Vietnamese PM urges stronger Vietnam-MENA ties

The first Forum for Economic Cooperation between Vietnam and MENA partners is being held in Hanoi from November 4-6. On this special occasion, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung delivered an important speech at the forum. VNA is pleased to introduce the full text of the Prime Minister’s speech.
The first Forum for Economic Cooperation between Vietnam and MENA partners is being held in Hanoi from November 4-6. On this special occasion, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung delivered an important speech at the forum. VNA is pleased to introduce the full text of the Prime Minister’s speech.

It gives a great pleasure to attend and address the first Forum for Economic Cooperation between Vietnam and MENA partners ever hosted by Vietnam . On behalf of the Vietnamese government and people, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to the Heads of MENA delegations, Ministers, Ambassadors, and all distinguished guests to this important and meaningful Forum.

Your presence here today demonstrates the profound interest and strong determination of us all to foster the friendship and multifaceted cooperation between Vietnam and MENA countries, for peace, cooperation and development.

Regardless of the geographical distance, Vietnam and MENA countries have long enjoyed traditional friendship and cooperation. We share the aspiration for peace, independence, freedom and development. We always stand shoulder to shoulder during the past struggle for national independence and in the current national building and development process. With the tradition of fidelity and gratitude, as we say in Vietnam : "When drinking water, remember the mountain spring", once again I wish to express our sincere and deep gratitude to the government and people of MENA countries for your valuable support and assistance accorded to the country and people of Vietnam.

In the 21 st century, great scientific discoveries, strong advances of technology, and economic integration taking place vigorously on multiple layers among countries, regions and worldwide have brought about enormous development opportunities for humanity. Nonetheless, many regions in the world are still faced with hunger, dispute, conflict and war.

Natural disaster, pollution, epidemics, exhaustion of water and natural resources represent a common challenge to all nations across the globe. Economic difficulties, a cause for social instability, have derailed some countries from the development track. Against that context, enhancing economic cooperation for common prosperity, poverty reduction, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and development-gap narrowing is crucial to build and reinforce strategic trust among nations, for peace, stability and sustainable development.

Vietnam and MENA countries can work together to overcome challenges, create and maximise every opportunity to enhance cooperation, for prosperity in our countries and for global economic recovery.

Apart from sound political ties, Vietnam and MENA countries possess enormous advantages and potentials to complement each other in development cooperation. After three decades of reform and opening up, Vietnam has become a middle-income developing nation and is firmly advancing towards industrialisation and modernisation.

Vietnam is now an attractive investment destination with stable socio-political environment, a potential market and abundantskilled labor force. The country also has a big advantage of being located in the Asia Pacific, a dynamically growing region seen as the engine for global economic growth. Meanwhile, MENA countries are of geo-strategic and geo-economics importance as a large region located at the junction point of three continents: Asia, Europe and Africa. This region is known for abundant capital resources and rich natural resources, especially its world’s largest oil and gas reserve.

With the policy of "being a friend, a reliable partner and a responsible member of the international community", Vietnam always attaches great importance to the multifaceted cooperation with MENA countries. We have established diplomatic relations with all countries in the region. We have established 12 diplomatic missions in MENA countries while 15 countries in the region have established diplomatic missions in Vietnam. Cooperation between Vietnam and MENA partners has gone from strength to strength.

Over the last 10 years, bilateral trade turnover between Vietnam and the MENA region has increased by 878 percent, from 889 million USD in 2002 to 7.4 billion USD in 2012, of which annual trade turnover with some individual partners has surpassed 1 billion USD. Many MENA businesses are involved in major projects in Vietnam, especially in such areas as oil and gas, ocean port, industry, real estate, and more. A number of Vietnamese companies have also implemented investment projects in the MENA region, notably the oil and gas exploration and extraction project of Petro Vietnam in Algeria. There are currently 26,000 Vietnamese workers in MENA countries.

Nonetheless, these achievements still fall short of our cooperation potentials and desires. Bilateral trade turnover between Vietnam and MENA countries only accounted for 5 percent of Vietnam's total exports in 2012. Meanwhile, the total investment in Vietnam is only a small part of the multi-billion dollar capital invested overseas annually of MENA countries. Vietnamese labour only accounts for less than 0.3% of total foreign labour in this region.

Against such a backdrop, the Forum for Economic Cooperation between Vietnam and MENA partners with the participation of many policy-makers and businesses is of special significance. With the initiative to host this Forum, the Vietnamese Government expects that it will create new impetus and breakthroughs to promote strong and effective development of friendship and multifaceted cooperation between Vietnam and MENA countries, especially in the areas of economics, trade, investment, oil and gas and labour.

To that end, I suggest the Forum to focus on the discussion of major issues as follows:

Firstly, providing information on the priority areas for business and investment in each country; sharing experience on how to make the business and investment environment more attractive and competitive, to create opportunities for our businesses to successfully do business and invest in each other’s market.

Proposing initiatives and concrete solutions to enhance the efficiency of cooperation mechanisms so as to assist businesses more effectively in addressing difficulties facing their investment and business.

Secondly, seeking new ways and means to promote and expand cooperation in the areas that each side has advantages, especially trade, energy mining and infrastructure development; formulating and signing agreements, MOUs to establish stable and long-term legal framework for cooperation in these areas.

Thirdly , developing orientations and measures to enhance and improve cooperation efficiency in the areas of agriculture, labour, education – training, healthcare, culture and tourisms.

Initial progress has been made in these cooperation areas between Vietnam and a number of African countries. This is a good example for us to develop and implement cooperation projects between Viet Nam and MENA countries, either bilateral or tripartite with the assistance of a third party.

Vietnam has an abundant and skilled labour force that can satisfy the growing demand for labour of MENA countries. Labour cooperation is an area in which we share much experience, we need to continue working together to bring to full play its enormous potentials.

Vietnam is implementing the Socio-Economic Development Strategy for 2011 – 2020 with focus on institutional reform, completion of the legal system, infrastructure and human resource development in conjunction with economic restructuring and growth model transformation to create momentum forsustainable development. We are also negotiating for important FTAs including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), FTAs with the EU and the Russia – Belarus – Kazakhstan Custom Union and a number of other FTAs. These agreements will bring about tremendous investment opportunities not only for Vietnamese businesses but also foreign investors in Vietnam. We commit to create favourable conditions for foreign investors. Your success is also ours.

We are certain that with our will, mutual trust and concrete actions, Vietnam and MENA countries will achieve success in raising cooperation efficiency for our common prosperity. I believe that the Forum for Economic Cooperation between Vietnam and MENA partners will mark the starting point for the cooperation and friendship between Vietnam and MENA countries to enter a new phase with flourishing future.-VNA

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