Malaysian PM’s visit to strengthen Vietnam-Malaysia partnership

The forthcoming visit to Vietnam by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, the first since Mahathir took office in May 2018, is expected to further strengthen the friendship and extensive cooperation between the two countries.

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Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (R) shakes hands with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad  during the 33rd ASEAN Summit and related meetings in Singapore (Photo: VNA)
The visit on August 27-28 is taking place in the context of positive developments in Vietnam-Malaysia ties. Political relations are growing close and trustful through the maintenance of visit exchanges and effective operation of bilateral cooperative mechanisms. Collaboration across the fields from economics-trade to defence-security, labour and tourism, is expanding. The two countries have effectively coordinated at regional and international forums, especially the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations (UN). 

Vietnam and Malaysia established diplomatic relationship on March 30, 1973, and the friendly and cooperative ties between the two countries have unceasingly developed in all spheres. 

The two countries regularly exchange visits. Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang visited Malaysia in September 2011 and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, in August 2015, while Malaysia’s King Muhamad V came to Vietnam in March 2009 and September 2013, and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, in April 2014. 

The two countries issued a joint statement on their strategic partnership framework during PM Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to Malaysia in 2015, and approved a plan of actions to implement the strategic partnership in March 2017. Last year, the two sides joined hands to organize a series of activities to mark the 45th anniversary of their diplomatic relationship. 

Cooperation in defence has been maintained through the exchange of delegations at different levels and exchanges, training and experience sharing between their armed forces. Their naval forces exchanged draft MoUs in 2009 and 2017 on establishing mechanisms for joint patrols and hotlines, and sent ships on mutual visits. Vietnam’s air defence-air force has received a delegation of Malaysian defence industry businesses who came to explore cooperation possibilities in the maintenance of Su 30 aircraft, rockets and radar. 

Bilateral affiliation in security has also been intensified through the exchange of information serving the prevention and combating terrorism, and cyber and trans-national crimes. The two countries inked an agreement on cooperation in preventing and fighting trans-national crime in 2015. 

In particular, economic-trade-investment cooperation is an outstanding feature in bilateral ties. The two countries are among the top 10 trade partners of each other. Bilateral trade value has enjoyed good growth, reaching 11.5 billion USD in 2018, up 13.2 percent from the previous year. Vietnam exports to Malaysia mainly crude oil, rice, coffee and seafood, while importing steel, petrol, plant and animal oil, plastic materials, machineries, equipment, computers and electronic goods.

Petro Vietnam and Petronas Malaysia have partnered up since 1991 in oil and gas exploration, processing and service. The two companies are implementing 10 joint projects. 

Regarding investment, as of April 2019 Malaysia had 586 investment projects in Vietnam with total registered capital reaching 12.4 billion USD, ranking 8th among 130 foreign investors in the country. Vietnamese investors poured 1.53 billion USD in 19 projects in Malaysia. 

The two countries have also expanded cooperation in other fields, such as labour, education and tourism. 

Vietnam currently has around 29,000 workers legally working in Malaysia. In November last year, the two sides held the first meeting of their Joint Working Group on the sidelines of the 25th ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Meeting in Kuala Lumpur to discuss ways to implement their 2015 MoU on labour cooperation.  

Vietnam and Malaysia also signed an MoU on education in March this year, which replaced the deal inked in 2004. More than 1,000 Vietnamese students are studying in Malaysia. 

With a tourism cooperation deal signed in as early as 1994, Malaysia has now become the 7th largest source of visitors to Vietnam, with more than 540,000 Malaysians travelling to Vietnam in 2018, up 12.4 percent from 2017.

The two countries have regularly coordinated and supported each other at regional and international forums, and are working closely in promoting the building of the ASEAN Community. 

The Vietnamese community in Malaysia now numbers around 65,000, who live across 13 states.
VNA

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