Driving towards a stronger Vietnam-RoK strategic partnership

(VOV) - Korean Republic President Park Geun-hye’s visit will affirm her country’s desire for a closer strategic partnership with Vietnam, deepen mutual understanding, and consolidate trust between senior leaders.

Korean Republic President Park Geun-hye will pay a State-level visit to Vietnam from September 7–11 at the invitation of President Truong Tan Sang.

This is President Park Geun-hye’s first Vietnamese visit since taking office in February and the fifth by an incumbent Korean President in the years after both countries established diplomatic ties in 1992.

Those 20 years, and the four years of formal strategic partnership, have witnessed bilateral relations broadened and branch out through a variety of fields, helped along via regular delegation exchanges at all levels.

The RoK, with 3,392 valid projects, is Vietnam’s fourth largest investor behind Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore.

Major Korean conglomerates such as Samsung, LG, Huyndai, and Kumho Asiana have committed to their Vietnamese investments over the long term. Samsung and LG are intent on bolstering their existing investment capital for expansion across the Southeast Asian nation.

The RoK is also Vietnam’s fourth biggest trade partner. Vietnam is its ninth largest export market. Bilateral trade reached US$21.12 billion in 2012, a 42-fold increase on 1992’s US$500 million.

Two-way trade turnover has climbed to US$15.1 billion over the past seven months, up nearly 40 percent on the equivalent period last year.

The RoK provision of official development assistance to Vietnam is only second behind Japan.

Its more than US$70 million of ODA in 2010 rose to US$200 million in 2011, the year in which the RoK designated Vietnam one of its 26 “strategic ODA cooperation partnerships” with focuses on green growth, human resource development, and infrastructure upgrades.

The RoK pledged Vietnam US$1.2 billion from its Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) over the 2012–2015 period, US$200 million higher than the 2008–2011 total.

South Koreans are the second largest contingent of foreign tourists visiting Vietnam. Vietnam welcomed in excess of 439,000 RoK visitors during the past seven months, a 4.3 percent improvement on 2012.

Both countries have signed a cultural cooperation agreement, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on sports and tourism cooperation, and diplomatic documents concerning youth exchange and education.

A Korean cultural centre has operated in Hanoi since 2006. The Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training considers the RoK a strategic education and training partner.

As many as 5,000 Vietnamese students are pursuing tertiary qualifications and post-graduate degrees at RoK institutions.

The RoK is Vietnam’s second biggest labour export market, receiving more more than 9,800 Vietnamese guest workers in 2012. A total of 68,000 Vietnamese workers have travelled to the RoK under the employment permit system (EPS) programme.

The RoK is a major contributor to Vietnam’s anti-bird flu campaigns and regularly offers humanitarian aid in the wake of natural disasters.

Healthy rates of people-to-people exchanges have been maintained thanks to the efforts of organisations like the Vietnam-RoK Friendship Association, the RoK-Vietnam Friendship Exchange Association, and the Vietnam-RoK Parliamentarian Friendship Group.

The twin city relationships between Hanoi and Seoul, HCM City and Busan, and Danang and Deagu testify to the strategic partnership’s strength on inter-locality levels.