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Nepali PM’s visit hoped to strengthen friendship with Vietnam

The upcoming visit of Nepali Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli and his spouse to Vietnam and his attendance at the UN Day of Vesak 2019 from May 9-12 is expected to contribute to boosting friendship between the two nations in the future.

The visit takes place in the context of smooth developments in the traditional friendship between Vietnam and Nepal, especially collaboration through the Party channel and economic-trade partnership.

Cultural and tourism cooperation as well as people-to-people exchange have been strengthened, while the two sides have shown mutual support and collaboration at international forums, especially the UN.

Vietnam and Nepal set up their diplomatic relations on May 15, 1975 and have maintained sound relations in many areas. The two sides have regularly exchanged delegations in various areas from politics to trade.

Visits of Vietnamese senior officials to Nepal included those by deputy head of the Party Central Committee’s Inspection Commission Pham Thi Hai Chuyen in 2009; deputy heads of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations Pham Xuan Son in 2010 and Nguyen Huy Tang in 2014; Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang in 2014; Chief Judge of the Supreme People’s Court Nguyen Hoa Binh in 2017; and head of the National Assembly’s Defence-Security Committee Vo Trong Viet in March 2019.

Meanwhile, many Nepali delegations visited Vietnam, including those led by the Deputy Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation in 2004; Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Development in 2009, and the Minister of Trade in 2017. Vietnamese Honorary Consul General in Nepal Rajesh Kazi Shrestha also visited Vietnam in April 2018. During the Davos World Economic Forum in January 2019, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc also had a meeting with Nepali PM K P Sharma Oli.

Businesses of both sides have bolstered their partnership with multiple cooperation agreements.

Over the past 44 years, Vietnam has offered support to Nepal, including 50,000 USD in aid to help it deal with earthquake consequences in 2015. Nepal has supported Vietnam in citizen protection. The two sides are working together on the signing of an agreement on visa exemption for diplomatic and official passport holders.

The Vietnam-Nepal Friendship Association was set up in September 2014, while the Vietnamese Honorary Consul General in Kathmandu was appointed in October 2016.

Vietnam and Nepal have supported and collaborated with each other at multilateral and international forums. Nepal has backed Vietnam’s market economy and candidacy for the UN Human Right Council in November 2013, the UN Economic and Social Council, and the UN Security Council in the 2020-2021 tenure.

At the same time, Vietnam has supported Nepal in running for a seat at the UN Human Right Council for the 2018-2020 tenure. Nepal is also one of the founders the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

However, economic and trade cooperation between Vietnam and Nepal has remained modest. By September 2018, two-way trade reached only 38 million USD. Vietnam mostly exported to Nepal peppercorn and plastic products, while importing garment-textile materials, leather, and footwear. Currently, the Viettel Military Industry-Telecommunication Group is exploring investment opportunities in Nepal.

In April 2018, Nepal sent a business delegation to seek partnership opportunities in Vietnam and attended the Vietnam Expo 2018 in Hanoi from April 11-14. During the visit, the Nepal Chamber of Commerce and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in information sharing and trade promotion.

At the Vietnam Expo 2018, Nepali businesses showcased a number of typical products of Nepal.

Nepal is a landlocked country with eight out of the 10 highest mountains in the world. Among the country’s tourist destinations is Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha and now a World Heritage Site.