Since then, Hanoi and Tel Aviv have witnessed remarkable developments in their relationship with reciprocal visits at various levels and the establishment of diplomatic representative offices.
Most notably, economic ties have increased sharply over recent years, especially following the signing by the two nations of their first ever bilateral trade and investment agreement in 2004.
These connections were further buttressed five years later in 2009 when both governments reached agreement on legislation that eliminated double taxation on earnings by transnational companies and created more transparency in laws affecting business transactions.
Recent reports suggest that the top-line trade revenues between the two countries is on a trajectory to exceed US$1 billion annually within the next couple of years, with Israeli exports to Vietnam surging in the neighbourhood of 120%.
Vietnam primarily exports agricultural products, clothing, and electronic equipment while it imports fertilizer, machinery, equipment, as well as electronic parts from Israel. There are now literally hundreds of Israeli brands, such as Iscar, that have found their way to Vietnam.
In 2011, Israel and Vietnam were also signatories to a US$250 million agreement involving financial protocol and maritime development. The deal came on the heels of heightened demand in Vietnam for Israeli products, especially those related to high-tech agriculture.
These economic links are expected to prosper even further in the coming years and decades as both governments recently have come to a meeting of the minds on a free-trade agreement.
Israel has most notably been a significant partner in the agriculture and dairy segments of the Vietnam economy. Israeli based SAE Afikim, for example, has invested US$500 million in 12 dairies that produce in excess of 300 million litres of milk annually.
It has been widely reported that the agricultural operation is one of the largest of its kind to be found anywhere around the globe and the biggest ever undertaken by an Israeli company.
In addition, a group of Israeli specialists have administered training courses pertaining to agriculture in Vietnam and it has been touted by both governments that there are plans to expand collaboration into the aquaculture segment.
People-to-people exchanges have also contributed to the strengthening of the relationship. Besides a large number of Vietnamese workers in Israel, there are frequent and recurring meetings between politicians, businessmen, and academics.
Both countries have also expended considerable effort to promote their tourism in each other’s country. To ease air connectivity, Air Vietnam has opened a representative office in the Jewish state.
In more recent years, Israeli ties with Vietnam have widened into a variety of differing realms. Even though not widely reported, education has become an important element in Israel-Vietnam relations.
It has also been reported that there are approximately 2,000 Vietnamese students on average studying agriculture in Israel each year. Meanwhile other exchanges are taking place in the realms of culture, biotech, information technology, and communications.
Relations have also been strengthened in terms of humanitarian aid. In 2006 and 2007, for example, a team of 54 doctors and nurses from Israel went to nine semi-remote locations in Vietnam to provide badly needed medical care.
In addition to providing care the medical teams distributed food and clothing, and provided livestock to households to help them establish a foundation upon which to build, enabling them to lift themselves out of poverty.
Looking forward, it is highly anticipated that Vietnam will continue to be Israel’s closest ally within the 10 member-state ASEAN bloc.
In concert with the birth of the ASEAN Economic Community, Vietnam offers Israel not only a gateway to large investment opportunities, but also provides a way to penetrate the wider ASEAN market.
Make no mistake, Israel is putting down roots in first-rate renewable and farming technologies and they are fundamentally invaluable to assist Vietnam in realizing its fullest agricultural capabilities and ambitions.
Tel Aviv could also, in the not so distant future, offer Vietnam a launching pad to access untapped consumer markets and even perhaps serve as a hub for expansion in the wider Middle East and North African markets.