45 years of co-operation and bilateral friendship

45 years of co operation and bilateral friendship
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last Tuesday as part of his official visit to Singapore

After the Paris Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam was signed in January 1973, Singapore was one of the first nations to forge diplomatic ties with Vietnam. The two countries’ relations developed favourably, with a first official visit to Singapore by Vietnam’s late Prime Minister Pham Van Dong in January 1978 and a joint statement affirming key principles guiding the Vietnam-Singapore relationship. In the early 1990s, as the regional and international situation changed and Vietnam implemented its open-door policy, the two countries’ relationship improved quickly, especially after Vietnam joined ASEAN in 1995.

Ever since, Singapore has been Vietnam’s reliable friend and a close partner in the region, always supporting Vietnam’s development and international integration. During Vietnam’s economic reform, Singapore’s late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was always a friend to Vietnam and often provided valuable advice for the country to develop.

From initial co-operation mechanisms such as the Vietnam-Singapore Co-operation Council (May 1993), the co-ordination group in charge of guiding the two countries’ economic co-operation (April 1994), the task force supporting Vietnam in infrastructure development and sharing experience in weathering the Asian economic and financial crisis (1997-1998), both countries have established a firm foundation for comprehensive co-operation in all sectors.

The reliable political relationship is an important foundation. Both nations signed the “Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Co-operation Framework in the 21st Century” in 2004. Nine years later, Singapore became one of the first ASEAN nations to forge a strategic partnership with Vietnam, when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong paid an official visit to Vietnam in 2013. This partnership ushered in a new co-operation era: co-operation for mutual benefit, respect, and especial trust between both countries.

New co-operation mechanisms were also established and frequently maintained, such as economic connectivity, political consultations, and defence dialogues. Hundreds of bilateral agreements have been signed, creating a firm legal foundation for both countries’ strengthened development.

Deep linkages in economics, trade, and investment have always been emphasised in the Vietnam-Singapore relationship. Right after Vietnam opened its doors to the world, Singapore was one of the first nations to approach Vietnam’s market. Two-way trade turnover has soared over the past 20 years, from $3 billion in 1997 to $8.3 billion in 2017. Singapore has become Vietnam’s largest ASEAN trade partner and Vietnam’s eighth-largest foreign trade partner overall. Singapore currently has over 2,000 investment projects in Vietnam, registered at over $43 billion, ranking third among 126 nations and territories investing in Vietnam.

The Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) project initiated by late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew is a prime example, having been deployed throughout Vietnam and currently standing at a total of nine VSIPs. They have attracted many investment projects, generated lots of employment for locals, and made important contributions to Vietnam’s economic development. VSIP has become a symbol of the economic connectivity between both nations. Commenting on the success of VSIP, in 2010, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stressed, “VSIP not only benefits Vietnam and Singapore, but also contributes to the whole region.”

Vietnam’s businesses have also invested in Singapore, with about 100 projects registered at nearly $300 million.

Both nations have also closely co-operated in boosting new-generation free trade agreements, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The bilateral defence and security co-operation has also increasingly expanded, with the two sides frequently deploying practical co-operation activities involving navy, air force, and rescue, as well as acting in concert in solving traditional and non-traditional security challenges arising in the region, such as terrorism, piracy, cybercrime, and cybersecurity.

In 2016, Singapore was the first nation to send its navy ships to call at Vietnam’s Cam Ranh International Port, which demonstrated the two countries’ strategic trust. The Shangri La forum, annually organised in Singapore, is an important event for Vietnam to affirm its strategic vision for important regional issues and its foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, co-operation, and development.

The bilateral co-operation in education-training, tourism, culture, and people-to-people exchange has also been flourishing. Over 18,000 Vietnamese people have joined the Singaporean co-operation programmes. 145 direct flights a week have strongly increased both nations’ tourism arrivals. In 2017, Vietnam welcomed nearly 300,000 Singaporean tourist arrivals, while Singapore welcomed over 500,000 Vietnamese tourist arrivals. Some 12,000 Vietnamese people live and work in Singapore, and many Singaporean people are also living and working in Vietnam. They are the bridge that helps boost understanding between people of both nations.

Vietnam and Singapore have also been closely co-operating with and supporting each other in regional and international forums, especially in the framework of the UN, ASEAN, APEC, ASEM, and WTO. They also work closely with each other on regional security issues. Both nations have also made active and positive contributions to the development of the ASEAN, contributing to maintaining peace, stability, and co-operation in the region and in the world. Being the two leaders in the ASEAN in implementing solutions to develop the ASEAN Economic Community, and also being the economies with the highest openness levels within the ASEAN, Vietnam and Singapore also share many benefits in boosting regional economic connectivity and globalisation.

Singapore’s support for and co-operation with Vietnam have contributed to making the 2017 APEC Year in Vietnam the great success. Vietnam highly values Singapore’s role as ASEAN chair in 2018, and is now working closely with Singapore and other regional nations on boosting the resilient, innovative ASEAN Community–in line with Singapore’s ASEAN chairmanship tagline of “Resilient and Innovative”.

Stretching up to new heights

Vietnam and Singapore are natural partners who are closely linked with each other by cultural similarities, geographical proximity, and similar regional and international benefits. What we have today comes from sincerity, trust, mutual understanding, and a shared vision for the ASEAN Community.

Currently, amid rapid international and regional changes and based on new requirements for their own development, Vietnam and Singapore need to further sharpen their thriving strategic partnership. Political trust always remains a cornerstone for the bilateral relationship, which should be further strengthened by frequent exchanges of high-level visits and contacts. Both nations should also increase consultations and experience sharing–especially in national governance and sustainable development, which are Singapore’s strengths.

The two countries will also boost exchanges in navy and air force activities and intensify co-operation activities involving anti-terrorism, cybersecurity, transnational crime, and cybercrime. They also need to amplify their economic co-operation in seeking new co-operation sectors suitable to their increased requirements, such as renewable energy, digital economy, startup development, smart cities, financial eco-systems, high-tech application, green production, and environmental protection.

This co-operation not only produces economic benefits, but also helps inspire creativity, startups, co-operation, and solidarity for future generations. Besides, both nations need to further expand their co-operation in education-training, improvement in managers’ capacities, healthcare, aviation, and navigation.

Considering the increasingly unpredictable and complicated developments on the world stage, both sides need to further strengthen their trust and solve all regional strategic issues of mutual concern in concert. They will also work closely with each other to deploy the master plan on realising the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, bridging the development gap among member states, expanding the ASEAN’s external activities, as well as creating unity and solidarity within the ASEAN regarding regional security issues.

The two countries will also boost co-operation in regional economic connectivity and, together with other members, implement the CPTPP, bringing benefits to member states and the entire region.

Celebrating their 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties also means both nations demonstrate their strong determination to further their strategic partnership in the future.

Looking back at all the achievements of the past 45 years, we do believe that the prospects of the Vietnam-Singapore relationship are quite bright within the shared ASEAN Community, benefitting the people of both nations, and furthering peace, co-operation, and prosperous development in the region.

Nguồn: www.vir.com.vn