Int'l Cooperation

Last updated: Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Deepening Vietnam - Malaysia Relations

Posted: Thursday, February 08, 2018

Since Vietnam-Malaysia diplomatic ties were established in 1973, the ties of friendship and multifaceted cooperation between the two nations have grown steadily across a variety of fields. In 2018, the two countries are celebrating 45 years of diplomatic ties. Vietnam Business Forum had an interview with Mr M. Zamruni Khalid, Ambassador of Malaysia to Vietnam. Ha Thu reports.

The year 2018 marks the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Malaysia. What would you say about the relationship between the two countries for the past 45 years?

I am very pleased that this year Malaysia and Vietnam will be celebrating the 45th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. The two countries established diplomatic relations on 30 March 1973. Since then, bilateral relations between both countries have remained friendly and have developed rapidly over the years. The relations are underscored by the rapidly expanding economic cooperation and investments from Malaysia, as well as frequent exchanges of visits between government leaders and officials, the private sectors and citizens of both countries.

Bilateral relations between the two countries can be described as broad-based and substantive, with both countries presently enjoying vibrant cooperative relations in a wide range of sectors. The relations were further upgraded from a Comprehensive Partnership to a Strategic Partnership on 7 August 2015. The Framework of Strategic Partnership covers wide-ranging areas for the expansion of trade and investment, financial sector, defence and security, agriculture, education, labour, energy, culture, youth and sports, social activities, tourism and transportation.

I am particularly delighted to see how our economic relations have been growing in the last 40 years. I am proud to say that Malaysian enterprises, through the encouragement from the government, were among the first to venture into Vietnam in the early 1990s. Based on available statistics, Malaysia’s trade with Vietnam grew from US$51.8 million in 1990 to US$10.3 billion in 2016. Our exports expanded from a measly US$6.4 million to US$5.8 billion, while imports grew from US$45.4 million to US$4.5 billion in the same period. The product compositions traded between our countries have also diversified, from agriculture and food products to electrical and electronics products, chemicals and chemical products, petroleum products and consumer goods.

In addition, Malaysia is also one of the largest foreign investors in Vietnam. As I said earlier, Malaysian enterprises were among the first to invest in Vietnam in the early 1990s, taking advantage of the opportunities the “Doi Moi” economic reform from the mid-1980s. Over the years, our enterprises have been involved in manufacturing, banking/finance services, real estate/properties, construction and supply of utilities. Until 2016, Malaysia’s cumulative investments in Vietnam amounted to US$12.1 billion. Trade and investment numbers reflect the growing and continuing inter-dependence between our two countries.

The bilateral trade cooperation of both countries has been constantly growing and expanding. Would you please tell us what areas of cooperation Malaysian enterprises are interested in?
As I have mentioned above, most of our enterprises have been investing in manufacturing sector, real estate/properties, construction and provision of utilities such as power plant and water treatment. I believe that these sectors will continue to attract Malaysian enterprises to invest into Vietnam. In addition, other sectors that Malaysian enterprises are interested in are energy, including renewable energy, and services such as healthcare and business professional services.

Vietnam successfully hosted the APEC 2017. What would you think about this event as well as the priorities proposed by Vietnam for APEC 2017?
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate Vietnam for the successful outcomes of APEC 2017. I think Vietnam did very well in hosting APEC 2017 especially the APEC Leaders’ Summit held in Danang. We all know the challenges in organising large events like APEC 2017, which involved preparations, both logistically as well as substantively. Certainly Vietnam had set a high benchmark, especially for Malaysia, as we will be hosting APEC in 2020.

On the priorities set by Vietnam for APEC 2017, these have been addressed well both in the Leaders’ Declaration and Joint Ministerial Statement. I think as an important organisation in the Asia-Pacific region, APEC has to continue to promote sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth, deepen regional economic integration, tap the full potential of the business sector, particularly micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), as well as enhance food security and sustainable agriculture. I believe it is also in our interest to reduce the disparity among APEC economies, particularly through open trade and investment, business facilitation, and economic and technical cooperation. This would be beneficial not only to economically-developed economies, but also to other economies as well.

In addition, I am pleased to note the endorsement by leaders of the APEC Action Agenda on Advancing Economic, Financial and Social Inclusion, and the APEC Framework on Human Resources Development in the Digital Age. I believe these two documents are timely and very useful to APEC economies, especially for both of our countries. We need to be better prepared in order to tap new opportunities and overcome various challenges. I think it is imperative for our people, especially the younger generation, to be able to compete as the world shifts towards a more digital age.

Given the context that Vietnam and Malaysia are undergoing important developments, what is the prospect for cooperation between the two countries in the coming time?
Our countries have enjoyed very cordial relations over the years and we have been cooperating in many mutually-beneficial areas. Therefore, I am optimistic the relations between the two countries can be further bolstered in the areas of trade and investment, finance, civil defence and security.

Both of our countries are also involved in trade liberalisation process, either undertaken through the ambit of ASEAN or other means, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and other ASEAN-FTAs. Apart from that, our bilateral economic cooperation has proven to be beneficial to both of our countries. The presence of Malaysian investors in Vietnam has contributed to the socio-economic development of Vietnam, directly or indirectly.

Malaysia and Vietnam are geographically located in a very strategic region, which is well-connected to global production networks. Both of our countries have and will continue to benefit from this strategic location and the economic liberalisation efforts undertaken through ASEAN. Looking at the current developments in both Malaysia and Vietnam, as well as in this region, I believe there are many bright prospects for us to continue to cooperate, whether in political-security, economic as well as in people-to-people relations.

What messages would you deliver to Vietnamese enterprises and Vietnamese people on the occasion of Lunar New Year?
On the occasion of Lunar New Year, I would like to wish to all Vietnamese enterprises and people continued success, prosperity and good health. May all your endeavours be met with huge success and satisfaction. I also hope that this New Year will further strengthen the bond between Malaysians and Vietnamese, so that we will have mutual trust and respect one another. I look forward to more meaningful cooperation between Vietnamese enterprises and people with their Malaysian counterparts in the coming years.

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