Bilateral and Multilateral Foreign Relations Charting the Course for Stronger Vietnam

9:41:29 AM | 1/30/2024

Vietnam's potential, position, international reputation and important foreign achievements in 2023 are a solid foundation for Vietnam's foreign affairs and diplomacy in 2024 to overcome difficulties and challenges and help realize the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh attended the 26th ASEAN-Japan Summit in Indonesia where leaders from ASEAN and Japan ratified a Joint Declaration to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership

Outstanding impressions

The official trip to the Commemorative Summit for 50th ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation and bilateral activities in Japan from December 15-18, 2023 with a consistent and important message of “from heart

to heart”, “from action to action” and “from emotions to effectiveness” by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and the high-ranking Vietnamese delegation wrapped up successfully. This was an important and meaningful event that closed 2023, the year celebrating the 50th anniversary of Vietnam - Japan diplomatic relations, with great success. At the same time, this was also one of the last important high-level foreign affairs of 2023, an extremely successful year of Vietnamese diplomacy.

According to Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, 2023 was an eventful year of outstanding foreign affairs. Foreign relations on bilateral and multilateral levels continue to be expanded and deepened. Particularly, relations with many important partners have been raised to new highs with new qualitative and outstanding development, specially relations with neighboring countries, China, the United States, Japan and many other partners. Foreign affairs, especially high-level diplomacy, took place vibrantly across continents and at many important multilateral forums and mechanisms such as ASEAN, the United Nations, the Greater Mekong Subregion, APEC, AIPA, COP 28 and BRI.

Last year, Vietnam conducted 22 overseas visits of senior leaders and received 28 visits of senior leaders of foreign countries to Vietnam, affirming Vietnam's new stature and position in the world. Vietnam continued to play its role in important international organizations such as the United Nations Human Rights Council and UNESCO, contributed actively and responsibly to common world issues such as combating climate change, keeping peace in Africa and sending rescue forces to Turkey.

Foreign research, consultation and forecasting produced many important results. Faced with very complicated international developments, the diplomatic sector, along with other branches and levels of authority, advised the Politburo, the Party Secretariat and the Government on many important foreign projects, especially the project on developing relations with a number of important partners, ASEAN and Greater Mekong Subregion cooperation, and policies on dealing with other countries’ initiatives.

Economic diplomacy continued to be promoted, based on thorough understanding of Directive 15 of the Party Secretariat, which placed localities, businesses and people at the center of service, widely deployed in foreign affairs, especially high-level diplomacy, closely linked with political diplomacy, cultural diplomacy and other fields of diplomacy. Wherein, economic cooperation is always the central content of relationships, especially with important partners. Vietnam’s upgrading of relations with other countries in the past year created a breakthrough in economic cooperation with them and opened up many opportunities for Vietnamese localities and businesses. International economic integration and participation in international economic links have been more active, positive and effective.

In addition to effectively enforcing signed FTAs, in 2023, Vietnam signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with Israel, actively negotiated FTAs with other partners; and signed over 70 cooperation documents of ministries and agencies, nearly 100 cooperation agreements of localities and hundreds of cooperation agreements of businesses. As a result, economic diplomacy made important contributions to fostering economic growth, boosting the import and export value to nearly US$700 billion in 2023, with over 30 exports earning more than US$1 billion, attracting over US$28 billion of FDI, up 14.8%, and accessing many new quality capital sources in a difficult world economic context.

General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong at a working session with U.S. President Joe Biden in Hanoi, September 2023

Promoting innovative thinking on foreign affairs

Minister Bui Thanh Son said that 2024 is important in successfully implementing the resolution of the 13th National Party Congress. In the coming years, the unstable and uncertain nature of international situations will continue, and new and more complicated factors may appear. Domestically, the socio-economy will continue to recover and develop but many difficulties and challenges will be in the way.

By properly implementing the foreign policy of the 13th National Party Congress and resolutions, conclusions and directives on foreign affairs of the Party Central Committee, the Politburo and the Secretariat promulgated since the start of the current term and strongly fostering the identity of “Vietnamese bamboo diplomacy”, the diplomatic sector will continue to promote innovative thinking on foreign affairs, he said.

With the new position and strength that Vietnam has never had before, Vietnam needs to boldly go beyond old-fashioned thinking and find new ways of doing things for national interests. To do so, according to Minister Son, it is necessary to speed up and conduct research, consultation and strategic forecasting on foreign affairs; perceptively detect new issues, accurately identify opportunities, correctly place the country's strategic position and take advantage of international trends to actively have appropriate foreign policies and decisions.

Besides, Vietnam will promote the pioneering role while coordinating closely with the Party diplomacy, people's diplomacy, branches and levels to firmly consolidate the peaceful, stable environment and protect the fatherland, mobilize new external resources for socioeconomic development, and enhance the country's position and prestige. The country will focus on creating a new step in building and developing a strong, comprehensive and modern diplomatic sector.

In 2024, the world economy will still face many difficulties and risks. Thus, according to Minister Son, the diplomatic sector will continue to thoroughly grasp the Party's policies and orientations on economic diplomacy, closely follow the 2024 Socioeconomic Development Plan and domestic and global developments. Domestically, economic diplomacy will continue to take advantage of the country's new position and strength, concretize newly upgraded relationship frameworks into practical and effective economic cooperation programs and projects, especially in terms of market expansion and access to new capital sources for infrastructure development, high technology, digital transformation, green growth, tourist attraction and skilled labor export. Together with sectors and localities, the diplomatic sector will actively remove obstacles in economic cooperation with partners, especially important ones. It will improve the effectiveness of supporting industries, localities and businesses on the principle of “people, localities and businesses at the heart of service.”

The Prime Ministers of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia convene a meeting to affirm their commitment to strengthening solidarity among the nations, pledging to ensure national security and foster national development, December 2023

“Foreign affairs and diplomacy have promoted new positions and new forces and the combined strength of the entire nation, more firmly consolidated open, favorable foreign affairs for national development and national defense in the period. Amid global and regional uncertainties, we have made right decisions and active breakthrough steps to prove our nerve in foreign affairs. Successful visits and phone calls of Party and State leaders since the 13th National Party Congress, especially more than 40 visits of senior leaders to neighboring countries, major countries, strategic partners, most ASEAN countries, important partners and traditional friends as well as Vietnam visits by heads of state and senior leaders of many countries and international organizations painted a very beautiful, vivid and attractive picture on the foreign front in the past two years and created a new position for Vietnam in the international arena, highly appreciated, agreed and supported by domestic public opinions and international friends. Particularly, foreign affairs are very vibrant in 2023. Welcoming and receiving General Secretary and President of China Xi Jinping, US President Joe Biden, General Secretary and President of Laos Thongloun Sisoulith, Chairman of the Cambodian People's Party Hun Sen and many other heads of state of important countries to Vietnam was of historical significance and evidence to the statement that “our country has never had such fortune, potential, prestige and international position as it has today”. From a country under siege and embargo, up to now, we have expanded and deepened relations with 193 countries and territories, including three countries with special relations, six countries with global strategic partners (the United States and Japan were included into this group in the fourth quarter), 12 strategic partnership countries and 12 comprehensive partnership countries. 

(Excerpt from the speech delivered by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong to the 32nd Diplomatic Conference on December 19, 2023 in Hanoi)

By Quynh Chi, Vietnam Business Forum