Belarus and Vietnam seek to step up ties

December 04, 2023 | 08:00
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A slew of cooperation deals have been clinched between Vietnam and Beralus, expected to help revitalise investment and trade activities between both nations.
Belarus and Vietnam seek to step up ties
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh (right) held talks with counterpart Roman Golovchenko, Photo: Duong Giang/ VNA

During Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko’s visit to Vietnam last week, which was joined by 30 Belarusian firms, Vietnamese firms and their Belarusian partners signed cooperation contracts in industries such as industrial and agricultural machinery, mining equipment, vehicle spare parts, tyres, and agricultural products.

Both governments have inked an agreement on exempting their citizens from visa requirements in order to facilitate trade and investment ties.

The two countries have also agreed to focus their cooperation on trade and investment, especially in such sectors as vehicles, agriculture, light industry, IT, electronics, education and training, and aquatic product processing.

They have also agreed on a plan to remove barriers in trade and investment between both countries by effectively exploiting advantages from the free trade agreement inked by the Eurasian Economic Union (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Armenia) and Vietnam in 2015, and which took effect in 2016.

This deal is hoped by Belarus to strengthen its strategic plan to cooperate with Vietnamese partners via joint ventures to produce goods, which will be consumed in Vietnam and exported to other ASEAN markets. It has also been expected by other Belarusian companies to help them implement projects about manufacturing urban buses and processing milk products in Vietnam.

At last week’s Vietnam-Belarus Business Forum held in Ho Chi Minh City, three MoUs were inked between Belarus’ National Centre for Marketing and Price Study, Ho Chi Minh City’s Investment and Trade Promotion Centre, and the Vietnam Business Club. The agreements are expected to help enterprises from both countries to increase cooperation in many fields such as industry, agriculture, foodstuffs, high technology, IT, chemicals, and tourism.

Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko last week also worked with the government of Hanoi, where he witnessed a new cooperation deal signed between the capital and Minsk for the 2024-22026 period, following similar deals inked between both cities as far back as 2004, focusing on boosting cooperation in the sectors of transport, tourism, foodstuffs, culture, and economics and trade.

The two cities previously discussed plans to build the Belarus-Vietnam Trade Centre in Hanoi and the Vietnam-Belarus Trade Centre in Minsk, as well as to establish a joint venture between Hanoi Transportation Corporation and Minsk Automobile Plant to import and assembly Belarusian buses in Hanoi.

Vietnam and Belarus are collaborating in numerous sectors, ranging from national defence to economy, trade, culture, education, and sci-tech. Both nations have established a solid legal framework to promote cooperation in various fields, with about 50 cooperation agreements, including international treaties and agreements between ministries and agencies. Around 10 Vietnamese provinces have established friendly and cooperative relations with six provincial-level localities of Belarus.

Over the past two years, trade has witnessed a reduction, standing at $113.9 million last year, down 32.5 per cent on-year, and $46.42 million in the first nine months of this year. Vietnam exports many items to Belarus, such as aquatic products, natural rubber, textiles and garments, footwear, rice, cashew, and pepper. Meanwhile, Belarus exports to Vietnam milk and dairy products, fertiliser, machinery and equipment, vehicle spare parts, tractors, vans, and chemicals.

At present, Vietnam has merely one project in Belarus worth $810,000, while Belarus has only three valid ventures in Vietnam, registered at about $40 million.

Two of these projects are located in the northern province of Hung Yen, including one operating in manufacturing and assembling trucks and special-purpose automobiles with a registered investment capital of $15 million and another involving agricultural production and processing, food, beverages, and dairy products capitalised at $18 million.

Vietnam and Belarus forged diplomatic relations in 1992.

Under the free trade agreement between Vietnam and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), 90 per cent of import tariffs will be reduced to zero within 10 years.

Vietnam immediately removed import tariffs on around 60 per cent of goods from the union, including meat products, wheat flour, alcohol, mechanical equipment, and steel products. The tariffs on another 30 per cent of goods are gradually being reduced to zero.

The average level of Vietnam’s duties on the union’s goods will drop from 10 to 1 per cent, while EAEU’s average import tariffs on Vietnam’s goods will be reduced from 9.7 to 2 per cent in 2025.

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