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Prime Minister’s US trip carries message of trustworthy Vietnam

Prime Minister’s US trip carries message of trustworthy Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s trip to the US from May 11-17 once again demonstrates Vietnam’s consistent foreign policy of being a friend, a trustworthy partner and an active and responsible member of the international community.

During the trip, he will attend the ASEAN-US Special Summit at the invitation of US President Joe Biden and make a working visit to the US and the United Nations. 

This is the first foreign activity of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) outside the bloc's territories since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also the first visit to the US by PM Chinh after the 13th National Party Congress.

ASEAN and the US officially established dialogue relations in 1977 and upgraded the relationship to a partnership at their third summit in 2015. The US established a diplomatic mission in ASEAN in June 2010, and sent a resident ambassador in the grouping in April 2011.

With such mechanisms as the annual summit, the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference (PMC), the ASEAN-US Dialogue at the deputy foreign ministerial and the Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) levels, and the ASEAN-US Joint Cooperation Committee, among others, the two sides have cooperated comprehensively across spheres, from politics-security, to economy, culture and social affairs, as well as development cooperation on the basis of their plan of action for 2021-2025.

The US has participated fully in and contributed actively to cooperation mechanisms and frameworks led by ASEAN like the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+).

The US has also committed to supporting ASEAN’s solidarity, unity and centrality and joined the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) in July 2009.

The two sides have stepped up collaboration in responding to non-traditional challenges, covering maritime security, the fight against terrorists and transnational crimes, and cyber security.

In the economic sphere, the US is now the bloc’s second biggest trade partner and largest FDI supplier, with two-way trade reaching 308.3 billion USD and investment worth 34.7 billion USD in 2020.

The economic and trade ties have been implemented through the Trade and Investment Framework and the US-ASEAN Expanded Economic (E3) Initiative Work Plan.

The two sides have also vowed to promote cultural and people-to-people exchanges, along with collaboration in education, human resources development, human rights and religion, anti-corruption, the protection of migrants and women’s empowerment.

Regarding development cooperation, the US has launched two programmes, one on inclusive growth in ASEAN through the Innovation, Trade and E-Commerce (IGNITE), and another on the partnership for Regional Optimization with the Political-Security and Socio-Cultural Communities (PROSPECT).

ASEAN and the US have coordinated in the COVID-19 combat since the pandemic broke out, and supported each other in dealing with its socio-economic impacts, and comprehensive, sustainable recovery.

The US has announced a contribution of 500,000 USD to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and pledged to assist the bloc in implementing the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework.

As of late 2021, the US said it had provided more than 42 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and over 200 million USD for ASEAN countries in the pandemic fight.

The US has also opened its Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Southeast Asia Regional Office in Vietnam’s capital city in August 2021.

The upcoming special summit marking the 45th founding anniversary of the relations between the two sides will review and evaluate the relationship, and set out major cooperation orientations in the time ahead.

ASEAN and US leaders will also compared notes on regional and international issues of shared concern.

They will also hold in-depth discussions on cooperation in such areas as economy, trade, investment, cooperation, maritime security, pandemic fight and post-pandemic recovery, climate change response, energy, science-technology and sustainable infrastructure development.

Prime Minister Chinh is scheduled to deliver a speech at the summit with a message about a trustworthy Vietnam that stands ready to coordinate with countries to build a region of peace and stability, towards prosperity.

Thriving Vietnam-US relations

Meanwhile, the US-Vietnam relations have developed positively since the establishment of the bilateral diplomatic ties 27 years ago. The two countries have held meetings and talks at all levels in suitable forms amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On all occasions, the US has affirmed its commitment to supporting a strong, independent and prosperous Vietnam and attached importance to the relations with Vietnam.

It has suggested the two sides take further steps to enhance the relationship with priority given to cooperation in economy, trade, national defence-security, health care and energy.

The economic-trade-investment ties continued to be a bright spot of the bilateral relations, with two-way trade hitting over 111.56 billion USD last year. The US remained Vietnam’s biggest importer, and Vietnam has been the ninth biggest trade partner of the US.

The two sides are working hard to implement an action plan towards harmonious and sustainable trade balance, while maintaining dialogues to foster cooperation and handle pending issues in the trade ties.

As of March 2022, the US had invested 10.3 billion USD in Vietnam, ranking 11 out of 141 countries and territories investing in the country. The US has expressed its readiness to forge cooperation in the areas in which Vietnam is interested like infrastructure development, supply chain, energy and digital economy.

At the same time, cooperation in national defence and security has been maintained with diverse contents, notably the settlement of war consequences and maritime capacity improvement.

Educational collaboration has also made strides, as the US has opened six educational institutions in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, and Binh Duong, and transferred technology with Vietnam.

For pandemic response, the US has donated nearly 40 million vaccine doses to Vietnam, of which nearly 39 million doses were channeled through the COVAX Facility.

The two countries have also coordinated in regional and international issues of shared concern like Mekong, Myanmar, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and COVID-19, particularly within the framework of the United Nations Security Council and ASEAN mechanisms.

Vietnam’s active contributions to UN

Since joining the UN in 1977, Vietnam has proven itself as a responsible and active member, as reflected through its realisation of sustainable development goals (SDGs), engagement in UN peacekeeping operations, membership of the UN Human Rights Council for 2014-2016 and non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council in 2020-2021.

The UN has played an important role in Vietnam’s socio-economic development. During the 2017-2021 period, the UN had helped Vietnam with more than 423 million USD.

Since the pandemic outset, Vietnam has received nearly 50 million vaccine doses via the COVAX Facility, exceeding the initially committed number of 38.9 million, and 45 million USD worth of medical supplies from UN organisations.

The UN General Assembly has adopted Vietnam’s proposal to designate December 27 as International Day of Epidemic Preparedness. Vietnam also contributed 50,000 USD to the UN COVID-19 response fund, and 1 million USD to COVAX.

At the 26th UN Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, PM Chinh emphasised Vietnam’s commitments to net zero emissions by 2050 and joining the global methane pledge, the Glasgow COP26 Declaration on Forests and Land Use, the Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement and the global climate change adaptation alliance.

For UN peacekeeping operations, Vietnam has sent 493 soldiers and officers to UN peacekeeping missions and deployed four rotations of the level-2 field hospital and one engineering unit. It has sent the most female soldiers and officers to UN peacekeeping missions.

The two sides have approved a framework on strategic cooperation for 2022-2026 with a focus on inclusive social development, climate change and natural disaster response, environmental sustainability, economic transformation and administration with total funding amounting to more than 542 million USD, up more than 100 million USD from that in 2017-2021.

Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, former Vietnam's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said PM Chinh’s visit to the UN is of significance as it reaffirms Vietnam’s commitments to the role of multilateral diplomacy and multilateral system, especially the UN.

The visit also offers an opportunity for the two sides to outline major orientations for cooperation between Vietnam and UN organisations, according to the ambassador./.