Localities' external affairs contribute to nation’s foreign relations: Deputy FM

The implementation of foreign affairs in localities has obtained many important results, contributing to the overall success of the country’s external relations and the realisation of socio-economic development goals in provinces and cities, said Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs To Anh Dung.

Despite suffering impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years, with synchronous, flexible and breakthrough measures, external affairs in localities have overcome difficulties and gradually carried out the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress, and achieved comprehensive results, Dung told the press ahead of the 20th National Conference on External Affairs which will take place on December 13.

More than 200 international agreements have been signed between Vietnam’s localities and foreign localities, organisations and enterprises between 2019 and 2021, he said.

Many trade promotion and connection activities were organised in the period including Vietnam's Agricultural Digital Transformation International Forum 2021 and Meet Europe 2021.

Cultural diplomacy has been also actively deployed, creating a connection with political and economic diplomacy. "Then singing" was included in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2019, Nui Chua Biosphere Reserve and Kon Ha Nung Plateau of Vietnam were recognised as the world’s Biosphere Reserve in 2021, contributing to promoting the image of Vietnam and its people and culture to friends around the world.

Localities have also made important contributions protecting the country's border, sea and island sovereignty. The borderlines and the system of national border markers are maintained, social order and safety in the border areas are ensured. The dissemination of information and protection of fishermen and fishing vessels are well-coordinated and implemented synchronously between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), relevant agencies and localities, creating a solid foundation for securing the support of the international community.

Consular affairs and those relating to overseas Vietnamese are also a bright spot, especially during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The localities have closely collaborated with the MoFA and relevant authorities to promptly implement citizen protection work and organise more than 700 flights to bring home more than 200,000 Vietnamese citizens abroad as well as assisting citizens stranded overseas.

Regarding the orientation of external affairs in localities, Dung said the 13th National Party Congress has specified the goal of "building comprehensive and modern diplomacy with three pillars namely party diplomacy, state diplomacy and people-to-people diplomacy.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, external affairs of localities will focus on promoting the role of economic diplomacy. Following the successes in vaccine diplomacy, economic diplomacy will be an important catalyst for localities in restoring production and business and enhancing recovery.

It is necessary to meet the needs and aspirations of localities such as digital economy development, e-commerce, hi-tech agriculture and clean energy, Dung said.

Advantages of the localities will be fully exploited and at the same time efforts will be made to continue seeking and expanding new markets with great potential for local products; calling on the international community to join hands in realising the goals of inclusive and sustainable development.

According to the official, the 20th National Conference on External Affairs will be an important opportunity for localities, agencies and Vietnamese representative agencies abroad and international partners to evaluate the results achieved in the implementation of external affairs of localities, and suggest measures to strengthen coordination and improve the efficiency of this work in the coming time.

Due to COVID-19, the conference will be held in both in-person and virtual forms, ensuring pandemic prevention and control but still bringing efficiency to the event.

The conference is also a chance for delegates to share experience and exchange practical measures to support Vietnamese localities in promoting international integration for socio-economic development, he said, adding that it will focus on market expansion, investment promotion, taking advantage of external resources to overcome difficulties caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and recovering from the pandemic.