Flexible diplomacy across all fronts

January 22, 2023 | 18:00
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Vietnam’s economy has weathered difficulties to reach where it is today. Standing Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Minh Vu spoke with VIR’s Thanh Tung about how economic diplomacy has contributed to national development in 2022.

How did economic diplomacy perform in 2022, and what has been different to previous years?

Under the clear-sighted and timely direction of the Party and state leaders in 2022, the sector has shown an initiative in quickly shifting its focus from vaccine diplomacy to economic diplomacy in service of national recovery and development. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has coordinated with ministries, agencies, and localities to continue firming up the policy of the 13th National Party Congress on economic diplomacy in service of national development.

Flexible diplomacy across all fronts
Standing Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Minh Vu

Economic cooperation has become a focal point in all foreign activities. In nearly 70 foreign activities of key leaders in 2022, the leaders of the country all closely directed and promoted economic content. Overseas business trips of key leaders and visits to Vietnam by leaders of other countries have achieved specific and practical results, and foreign affairs in particular has been taking advantage of all opportunities and resources for national development. The diplomatic sector has contributed to international economic integration. It has promptly taken advantage of external resources for new driving forces for development, especially green financial sources, investment in energy transformation, and investment in high-tech industries.

The MoFA has also supported and promoted the effective implementation of 15 free trade agreements (FTAs) while advising and making recommendations for our country to participate in international economic integration initiatives to take advantage of resources for development.

In diplomacy, the Vietnamese representative office system has sought all opportunities, boosted connections, and supported Vietnamese localities and enterprises to promote exports, attract investment and expand economic cooperation with foreign countries.

In 2022, the MoFA organised over 50 delegations working with 25 localities, launched about 70 activities to connect localities with partners, and supported the signing of more than 40 international cooperation documents.

How has the sector aided the implementation of FTAs ​​and attracted investment?

The MoFA and representative agencies have continued to coordinate with ministries and sectors to support localities and businesses to make good use of the FTA network, attract investment, and boost trade. They have focused on maintaining and expanding export markets, taking advantage of the FTA network ​​to minimise the negative impacts of the world’s economy on Vietnamese exports.

The diplomatic sector has promoted Vietnam’s economic and trade relations with partners, especially FTA partners; lobbied partners to remove trade barriers for Vietnamese goods; and provided information on partners’ policies and detected opportunities to expand exports.

The sector has also coordinated with stakeholders in implementing many key trade and investment activities, taking advantage of digital technology to ensure the highest efficiency and promptly warning and removing difficulties for enterprises participating in international trade. It has continued to coordinate with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and other ministries to negotiate and upgrade existing FTAs, and research and negotiate ​​with new partners to diversify markets and supply chains.

The MoFA has accompanied the Ministry of Planning and Investment and agencies to encourage the mobilisation and attraction of high-quality investment, connect and support foreign enterprises to make new investments and expand investment in Vietnam, while promoting exchanges and cooperation with investment funds, and researching international investment trends. As a result, export-import turnover in 2022 hit a record at $732.5 billion, and the total foreign direct investment in Vietnam grew compared to 2021.

Promoting green economic cooperation and digital economy enables Vietnam to better attract investment and strengthen cooperation with partners. What is your take on this?

Vietnam is among the leading countries demonstrating a strong commitment to green and digital transformation. Our net-zero commitments will require our own strong efforts, but will also open up many opportunities for cooperation with international partners, as these are issues of global concern. Currently, international organisations, multilateral mechanisms, and development partners all give high priority and devote plenty of resources to the efforts of the international community in green transition, energy transition, energy transformation, innovation, and digital transformation.

The MoFA and other stakeholders have focused on cooperation with both bilateral and multilateral partners to maximise external resources and combine them with domestic resources for national strategies on green and digital transformation. Digital economic cooperation is also highlighted in high-level external activities, focusing on attracting investment, training human resources, and improving governance capacity.

In August, Directive No.15-CT/TW on economic diplomacy in service of national development to 2030 was enacted. Why is this directive important?

Directive 15 is important for economic diplomacy in the country’s new strategic development. For the first time, economic diplomacy has been identified as a basic and central task of Vietnamese diplomacy; a driving force for rapid and sustainable development; and a key to mobilising external resources.

Based on the close direction of the prime minister, the MoFA has drawn several important lessons for economic diplomacy. Vietnam must be a reliable and responsible friend and partner of the international community. The creativity of ministries, sectors, and diplomatic missions, as well as the spirit and responsibility of all staff is vital, and it is also necessary to mobilise the solidarity of the political system, people, and businesses for the common good.

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