Monday, 10/12/2018
External relation achievements in 2017: new position, new momentum
4/4/2018 10:37' Send Print
Leaders of APEC economies take pictures. Photo: vov.vn

Despite better growth, the world economy still faces many risks and uncertainties due to financial-monetary, geopolitical and international security instability, and populist and protectionist movement. Regional and global economic and trade linkages were sustained, but international cooperation and free trade encountered considerable difficulties, while countries had to maintain necessary growth motivation and effectively adapt to the new demands of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

International relations in 2017 were strongly influenced by large countries' policy adjustments, resulting in multi-dimentational developments in regions including Asia-Pacific. Collaboration and competition were complicatedly interwoven, and force gathering in new forms and nuances posed challenges for small and medium countries. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in its 50th anniversary continued to be a successful regional organization, striving to maintain solidarity and build the ASEAN Community, but it also faced challenges in maintaining its position.

In that context, Vietnam proactively, actively and resolutely carried out both bilateral and multilateral activities in external affairs in 2017 to implement strategic objectives set out by the 12th Party Congress thus contributing to the socio-economic achievements of the country. As a result, 2017 was considered as one of the most successful years of Vietnam's external relations. Following are some major points:

The outstanding and prominent achievement was we successfully fulfilled the role as a host of the APEC Year 2017 of which the focus was the APEC Summit Week held in Da Nang. This event created a positive effect in many respects, continuing to affirm that APEC is the leading regional economic cooperation and linkage forum, highlighting the role of Vietnam in an event of "global" significance. The full attendance of APEC member economies’ leaders, the largest number of delegates, businesses and correspondents ever for the past 10 years, the organization, chairing and management, quality documents, absolute security and safety through out the APEC Year 2017 left good impression on international friends. APEC members, friends and international media highly valued APEC Year 2017 theme proposed by Vietnam and the four priorities on the agenda and contents of documents. This event put Vietnam in the world limelight, contributing to promoting Vietnam’s image, status and prestige.

The APEC Year 2017 was a lively manifestation showing that Vietnam’s multilateral foreign relations were elevated to a new height, shifting to "proactively and actively participating in the process of building and shaping general rules," thereby protecting and effectively promoting the strategic interests of Vietnam's security and development and at the same time demonstrating the spirit of "a responsible member in the international community."

The success of this event created a new perception, confidence, strength, and spirit for international integration, upholding national pride, self-reliance, and aspiration to stride forward of Vietnamese people and the business community.

Over the past year, we made great efforts to deepen Vietnam’s relations with neighboring, regional, major and traditional friendly countries. In 2017, Vietnam’s high-ranking leaders paid 18 visits to 19 countries, participated in 8 international multilateral conferences, conducted hundreds of bilateral contacts with heads of state of other countries and welcomed 36 heads of states and prime minister of countries to visit Vietnam.

In particular, during the APEC Summit Week 2017, we enhanced the level of and strengthened relations with big partners. On this occasion, we welcomed Party General Secretary, President of China Xi Jinping, and President of the United State Donald Trump on the same day. President of Chile and the Prime Minister of Canada also visited Vietnam on that occasion. More than 50 meetings and contacts with leaders of APEC member economies were organized.

The content of external activities were substantial, sustainably and stably deepened relations with partners and made the relations more stable and sustainable. Through big celebrations in relations with Laos, Cambodia, high-level visits to Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam strengthened political trust and substantial cooperation with our neighbors in the region. Relations with other key partners, such as China, Russia, the United States, Japan, and India were improved in political and economical fields. We established comprehensive partnerships with Myanmar and Canada.

We continued proactively and actively integrating into the international economy, upholding Vietnam’s role in regional and international and economic linkages and cooperation, and successfully fulfilling the tasks of foreign affairs, contributing to the development of the country. Foreign affairs and international integration were carried out in realization of Resolution No. 06-NQ/TW dated 5 November 2016 of the Fourth Plenum of the Party Central Committee on the effective integration into international economic economy, maintenance of socio-political stability while Vietnam is participating in new-generation free trade agreements. Together with other countries, Vietnam continued actively working towards the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), while guaranteeing the interests of Vietnam. We also actively stepped up negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), while lobbying the European Union (EU) to early sign, ratify and implement the Vietnam-EU free trade agreement (EVFTA). Leaders of partner countries also agreed to effectively implement the Free Trade Agreements of the Eurasian Economic Union and Vietnam and South Korea.

The effect of the growth potential of Vietnam, and its determination in renovation and international integration reflected through its diverse foreign activities, and its drastic measures to build a facilitating government partly contributed to strengthening economic relations with our partners and fulfilling and overfulfilling our external economic targets. Vietnam's total import-export turnover reached US$425 billion, the highest ever; and the number of international tourists to Vietnam reached nearly 13 million (up 30% over the previous year). During the APEC Summit Week in 2017, 121 agreements with total value of US$20 billion were signed. Thanks to advocacy, so far 69 countries recognized Vietnam as a market economy. The Government, ministries, branches and representative offices of Vietnam in foreign countries were very active in lobbying other countries to open their markets for Vietnamese goods.

In 2017, external relations continued to contributing to firmly protect national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and ensuring political stability, security and social order and safety. External relations in defense and security were strengthened, and defense and security cooperation with partner countries became increasingly effective, contributing actively to enhancing mutual understanding and trust between Vietnam and other countries. Vietnam completed the project to increase thickness and upgrade the system of border markers with Laos; completed 84.6% of the work on land border demarcation and landmark planting with Cambodia. We also implemented agreements on border and bordergate management with China and Laos. We together with ASEAN and China actively worked to adopt the Framework for the Code of Conduct for Parties in the East Sea (COC) and officially organized negotiations on COC. We accelerated negotiation and discussions on maritime issues with other regional countries, and at the same time resolutely and persistently combated acts of infringement upon our sea and island sovereignty. We resolutely fought against attempts to distort the issue of democracy, human rights and religion in order to interfere in Vietnam's internal affairs, while pushing for human right dialogues, and frank exchanges to increase understanding, reduce differences and promote stable relations with other countries.

External affairs were implemented proactively and actively, and gained great results in many other important fields. We took advantage of good relations and cooperation with other countries to protect citizens, fishermen, and legal status of more than 5,500 citizens and repatriated nearly 2,000 fishermen detained by foreign countries. Efforts were made to step up cultural diplomacy and external information to raise Vietnam’s profile in the international arena. Vietnam’s folk art “Bai Choi” singing practiced in the Central of Vietnam was added in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), increasing the number of Vietnam’s World Cultural Heritage. Many diversified and practical activities, such as the Homeland Spring, Vietnam Summer Camp, tours for overseas Vietnamese to Truong Sa, Vietnam Youth Startup Forum helped the Vietnamese community abroad link with the country.

It is possible to say that together with achievements in building and defending the country, the success of Vietnam’s diplomacy in 2017 consolidated the country’s strength, firmly boosted Vietnam's strategic position, facilitating external activities in 2018, the crucial year of the implementation of the tasks set out by the 12th Party Congress to bring about positive changes in line with the Party's resolutions.

In 2018 and in the years to come Vietnam will continue to synchronously carry out external relation tasks, bring into play successes of the APEC Vienam Year 2017 and bilateral relations, deepen relations, implement multilateral external relations, prepare for the ASEAN 2020 Chairmanship and candidacy for a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2020-2021 term, resolutely and persistently safeguard the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and security, and strongly implement Resolution No. 06/NQ-TW on effective implementation of international economic integration and firm maintenance of socio-political stability while the our country is participating in new-generation free trade agreements.

Under the wise leadership of the Party and the close cooperation of different forces, foreign relation channels, the political system and people, Vietnam is ready to cope with all challenges in the coming year to undertake diplomatic tasks and will continue to build and defend the Fatherland in the interests of the Party, country and nation.

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This article was published on the Communist Review No 903 (January 2018)

Pham Binh MinhMember of Politburo, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs