|Vietnamese Ambassador to the RoK Nguyen Vu Tu
Speaking to Vietnam News Agency ahead of the trip, Vietnamese Ambassador to the RoK Nguyen Vu Tu said this is the first time Ngan has made an official visit to the Northeast Asian nation as leader of the Vietnamese parliament.
The tour takes place amid the countries’ thriving partnership in all spheres. However, there remains much room to enhance cooperation, he said.
Vietnam always wants to intensify its friendship with the RoK which is promoting the New Southern Policy, in which Vietnam is considered an important partner.
The two sides are realising the outcomes of the Vietnam visit by RoK President Moon Jae-in last March, he noted.
Highlighting the foundation of bilateral relations, Tu said the countries share many cultural and historical similarities, complementary economies and a strong friendship.
The diplomat expressed his belief that with existing advantages and thorough preparations by both sides, Chairwoman Ngan’s visit will be successful, thus strengthening political trust between their leaders and the friendship between the two peoples. It will also drive bilateral relations to develop.
Since diplomatic ties were set up in 1992, great strides have been made in their connections in all areas, from politics, defence, security, economy to culture, tourism and people-to-people exchange.
He said the two countries have high political trust bolstered through regular exchanges of high-ranking delegations.
The RoK is currently the biggest foreign investor in Vietnam with a total registered direct investment of some 65 billion USD poured into more than 7,000 projects as of October this year.
It is the second largest trade partner of the Southeast Asian nation, which in turn ranks fourth among the RoK’s trade partners. Bilateral trade topped 60 billion USD in 2017, partly thanks to the Vietnam-RoK Free Trade Agreement taking effect in December 2015.
The RoK is also the second biggest official development assistance provider for Vietnam, with 1.5 billion USD committed for 2016 – 2020.
Cultural and people-to-people exchanges have also developed considerably, Tu said, citing the many cultural events that have been held over the years.
There are more than 180,000 Vietnamese people in the RoK while Korean citizens also number over 160,000 in Vietnam. They have contributed to each country’s development as well as bilateral cooperation, he said.
In 2017, some 2.5 million Koreans and 320,000 Vietnamese visited each other’s countries. More than 400,000 Vietnamese tourists chose the RoK for their holiday in the first 10 months of this year.
The ambassador added another highlight in bilateral relations is their close coordination in regional and global issues. They have worked closely at international organisations and multilateral forums like the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the Asia-Europe Meeting and regional cooperation mechanisms like the Mekong-RoK, ASEAN-RoK, ASEAN Plus Three, ASEAN Regional Forum and East Asia Summit.
They have cooperated in regional and global affairs like sustainable development, climate change response, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and shared a common stance on resolving territorial and sea disputes by peaceful means, adhering to international law, respecting and protecting navigation and aviation freedom in the Asia-Pacific.
Ambassador Tu also suggested ways to foster ties in certain areas.
He said on the basis of the bilateral free trade agreement, the two sides should expand trade turnover to 100 billion USD in 2020, while also working towards balanced trade by the RoK importing more Vietnamese goods.
Meanwhile, RoK businesses should be encouraged to invest more in Vietnam, including infrastructure development, high technology and renewable energy. They should also pay more attention to transferring technology, developing supporting industries and creating conditions for Vietnamese firms to join their global production and supply chains, Tu said.
He also called for better coordination to carry out reached agreements. The two countries need to facilitate people-to-people diplomacy through cultural and educational activities and youth exchange to help consolidate their friendship.
Both sides also need to create more favourable conditions for more Vietnamese and Korean students to study in each other’s countries because they are the core force contributing to bilateral relations in the next two and three decades.
Cooperation between mass organisations should also be tightened to assist Vietnamese and Korean expatriate communities in the other country, Tu said, pledging that his embassy will work with RoK agencies and localities to step up people-to-people ties.