Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK Tran Ngoc An
(Photo: VNA)

London (VNA) – The upcoming official visit to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh will create new momentum for the Vietnam-UK relations, now at their best development period, Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK Tran Ngoc An has affirmed.

In his interview granted to Vietnam News Agency on the threshold of the visit, Ambassador An stressed that Deputy PM Minh’s visit is the most important event among those held between the two countries to celebrate 45th anniversary of the diplomatic relations.

During his stay, Deputy PM Minh will have meetings with representatives of the UK Government, Parliament and the royal family to bolster the strategic partnership between the two countries, he said, adding that this is an important period for both sides as the UK is leaving the European Union (EU) and advocating to broaden relations with countries outside Europe, while Vietnam is integrating deeply into the global economy with its increasing position in the international arena.

Deputy PM Minh will chair a celebration to mark the 45 years of bilateral diplomatic establishment, which includes a stellar cultural programme “Vietnam Culture Day in the UK”, an exhibition displaying Vietnamese traditional costumes, and a photo exhibition highlighting Vietnam as an attraction of the world.

Also, Minh will chair and attend a line-up of economic events to enhance two-way trade and investment, the diplomat added.

Ambassador An said that since the two countries set up diplomatic relations in 1973, they have enjoyed positive achievements in their cooperative ties.

In the field of politics, they have maintained high-level meetings and exchanges. The Vietnamese Party General Secretary, President, Prime Minister and Chairwoman of the National Assembly have already visited the UK. Meanwhile, the UK Prime Minister, parliamentary leaders, and members of the Royal family have visited the Southeast Asian country several times. In 2010, the two countries officially established the bilateral strategic partnership, paving the way for the formation of various cooperative mechanisms such as strategic dialogue, Joint Committee on Economic Cooperation, and working group on defence ties. They have served as a firm foundation to further the bilateral ties.

On investment, the UK is now among the top 15 foreign investors in Vietnam, registering 4 billion USD in the country. Despite the complicated sitution in the world’s economy, two-way trade increased sharply to hit 6.1 billion USD in 2017, of which Vietnam exported 5.4 billion USD worth of products, up 10 percent from the previous year and tripling the figure recorded in 2010.

In the field of education, there are some 12,000 Vietnamese students studying in the European country. Receiving training in the world’s leading education environment, they will make positive contributions to the socio-economic development in Vietnam when returning home.

Regarding defence cooperation, the military attaché’s offices were set up in both nations. In addition, delegation exchange and experience sharing, especially in peacekeeping activities, have been maintained.

Furthermore, people-to-people exchanges have been enhanced in recent years. UK citizens now have a deeper understanding of the Vietnamese culture thanks to an array of activities to introduce and popularise Vietnamese culture and tourism. Vietnamese traditional cuisines like “pho”, “bun cha”, and “nem cuon” have been favoured in the UK and Vietnamese restaurants are now mushrooming in London and other big cities.

Ambassador An said that the two countries still have huge cooperative potential in the coming time. They see each other important to carry out their foreign policies.

During Brexit, the UK prioritises relations with Asia-Pacfic in its “Global Britain” strategy. In the writing on the “All of Asia” policy, Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mark Field affirmed that the UK is seeking ways to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and looking for opportunities to enhance connections with the ASEAN. Meanwhile, Vietnam has played an increasingly important role in cooperative frameworks and multilateral forums, including the CPTPP and the ASEAN.

As the two countries have complementary economies, there is large room for them to foster trade and investment. Although Vietnam is the 25th largest partner of the UK, Vietnamese shipments to the country make up only 1 percent of its imports. In addition, the UK’s direct investment in Vietnam is still modest as it invests some 300 billion USD in foreign countries and becomes the 5th largest foreign investor in the world.

The diplomat also relished his prospects for cooperation in other sectors like science-technology, defence and education. He said that increasing mutual understanding will open up new opportunities for collaborative projects in the time to come.-VNA