The first official visit to Belarus by Chairwoman Ngan is made at the invitation of Chairman of the Council of the Republic Mikhail Myasnikovich and Chairman of the House of Representatives of the NA of Belarus Vladimir Andreichenko.
Great strides in bilateral relations
In 2019, the two countries’ relations have enjoyed strong developments with cooperation enhanced in all spheres.
Their existing cooperation mechanisms consist of an inter-governmental committee on economic, trade and scientific-technological cooperation; an inter-governmental committee on military cooperation; a committee for scientific and technological cooperation; and a political consultation at the deputy foreign ministerial level.
The countries have cooperated closely and supported each other at the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement and many other international forums and organisaions.
Regarding parliamentary ties, the Vietnamese and Belarusian parliaments inked a cooperation agreement in April 2009, creating a legal framework to reinforce ties between the two legislative bodies.
Over the years, the two legislatures have held regular delegation exchanges, and the Vietnam-Belarus and Belarus-Vietnam friendship parliamentary groups have been established.
Flourishing economic partnerships
Thanks to both sides’ efforts, bilateral trade has grown well, from 107.15 million USD in 2014 to 153.4 million USD in just the first nine months of 2019, including 83.9 million USD worth of goods Belarus exports to Vietnam and 69.5 million USD of good going the other way. Trade revenue is expected to reach 200 million USD this year after standing at around 100 million USD for many years.
Vietnam’s main exports to Belarus include aquatic products, wood items, textile-garment, footwear, rice, natural rubber, cashew, peanuts, peppercorn, tea, canned fruit and vegetables, pharmaceuticals, and computers. Meanwhile, it imports fertilizer, machinery, equipment, car components and spare parts, tractors, trucks and chemicals.
In May 2015, Vietnam and the Eurasian Economic Union, of which Belarus is a member, signed a free trade agreement that took effect on October 5, 2016.
So far, Belarus has invested in three projects worth 16.25 million USD in Vietnam. In return, the Southeast Asian nation has one project worth 1.6 million USD in the wholesale-retail sector in Belarus.
Notably, during the trip to Vietnam by Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Igor Lyashenko in September 2019, the two sides inaugurated a truck assembly joint venture MAZ ASIA and signed a document on the foundation of a dairy product joint venture. These two projects demonstrate the countries’ efforts to switch from trade to partnerships in processing and manufacturing.
Many fields of cooperation
Over the years, Belarus has assisted Vietnam in personnel training. Security-defence cooperation has been maintained through delegation exchanges and the inter-governmental committee on military technique cooperation. Meanwhile, bilateral collaboration in science and technology has also been developing with many fruitful projects.
The countries organised the Belarusian Culture Days in Vietnam in 2014 and 2017 and the Vietnamese Culture Days in Belarus in 2015.
The number of Belarusian tourists to Vietnam has been rising fast since Vietnam offered visa exemptions for Belarusians in 2015. In January 2017, the Belarusian President signed a decree allowing citizens of 80 countries, including Vietnam, to stay in the nation for five days without a visa.
Additionally, labour cooperation is also one of the potential cooperation directions. The countries signed an inter-governmental agreement on fixed-term working visas which came into force in June 2013.
Locality-to-locality collaboration has also been strengthened. Cooperation deals have been inked between many localities, including Hanoi and Minsk; Da Nang and Grodno; Ho Chi Minh City and Minsk; Quang Ninh and Minsk, Grodno and Brest; and Quang Nam and Mogilev.
There are about 500 – 600 Vietnamese people in Belarus at present, and they have received favourable conditions to study, reside and do business in the country. In December 2006, President Alexander Lukashenko permitted Vietnamese nationals who had worked and studied in Belarus before 1992 to reside in the country permanently.