Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang said he will discuss ways to strengthen strategic cooperation with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak during his visit to Seoul on November 8-10.
In an e-mail interview with The Korea Herald ahead of his trip to Korea, the Vietnamese leader emphasised that the two countries should expand cooperation in all areas to keep their relations flourishing as part of the partnership established in 2009.
“I believe that in the time ahead, the two sides should continue to maintain exchange visits and contacts between high-level leaders,” Sang said.
He noted the vibrant economic ties between Vietnam and South Korea, among others.
Korea is Vietnam’s largest foreign investor with registered capital of more than US$23 billion and is also the Southeast Asian nation’s fourth largest trading partner with a trade turnover of $12.9 billion last year.
“Our two countries have comparative advantages that can be mutually complementary in economics, trade and investment,” he said. “There remains vast potential that the two sides can tap into, especially in the areas of infrastructure, high technology, information technology, training of human resources, education and healthcare.”
Both countries seek to increase their bilateral turnover to $20 billion by 2015 and Vietnam plans to continue to improve its business and investment environment to facilitate the two countries’ efforts for stepping up cooperation.
Sang and Lee will also discuss the prospect of a Korea-Vietnam free trade area, nuclear energy cooperation and the implementation of the Project on Red River City.
The Vietnamese president hoped Korea will continue to share its development experience and give priority to the provision of development assistance to help Vietnam grow.
Korea was the second-largest donating country to Vietnam by 2010. Korea provided $129 million in grants and $1.25 billion in soft loans between 1991 and 2010.
“With Korea’s assistance, many projects have been completed with effective operation, helping Vietnam record comprehensive achievements in all economic, social, environment and social security aspects. I have visited a number of infrastructure and public utility projects funded by the Korea’s ODA, and I highly value the effectiveness of these projects.”
Sang also noted that Vietnam is prepared to serve as a rice supplier to the region as the second-largest rice exporter in the world.
With an ever-increasing world population and change in weather patterns affecting farming across the region, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus Korea, Japan and China signed the Emergency Rice Reserve agreement to ensure food security for a region with a high demand for rice.
“Vietnam is committed to fully implementing the contents of the agreement,” he said.
The fund consists of $4 million in cash and 787,000 tonnes of rice in reserve to guarantee fast and effective provision of rice in case of emergency.
From here, Sang will travel to Hawaii for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. He plans to further promote the comprehensive economic partnership with Apec members.
Korea and Vietnam will work together at Apec to promote regional economic connectivity, green growth, economic-technical cooperation and human security.
Vietnam also plans to foster trade links through the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which is an extensive free trade deal for the member states.
“On the basis of the principles of development and mutual benefit, the TPP negotiations will make progress in the time ahead toward an Asia-Pacific free trade area,” he said. “Vietnam will join other members to ensure that the TPP and future free trade agreements will become fair and mutually beneficial.”
The two countries will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year with a slew of events in both countries.