Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh grants interview to Clever Group ahead of visit to Romania

WVR - On the threshold of his official visit to Romania on January 20-21, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh granted an interview to Romanian media Clever Group on Vietnam’s development experiences, important policies of the 13th National Party Congress and the prospects of the Vietnam-Romania relationship. The World & Vietnam Report would like to introduce this interview to our readers.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh grants interview to Clever Group ahead of visit to Romania
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh pays an official visit to Romania from January 20 to 22, 2024. (Source: VGP)

Prime Minister, please explain the reasons and valuable experiences that have propelled Vietnam's remarkable development across all sectors, especially how the country, once facing food shortages, became the world's third-largest rice exporter in a short period.

Looking back over the nearly 40 years of Doi Moi (renewal process), Vietnam has achieved significant historical milestones, with the economy growing over 53 times and per capita income increasing about 28 times. The people's live have notably improved in both material and spiritual aspects. The poverty rate has decreased from 60% in the early 1990s to 2.93% in 2023. Vietnam has surpassed Millennium Development Goals ahead of schedule, ranking high in human development among economies of similar development levels. The country plays a crucial role in global and regional supply chains, being one of the world's 20 largest economies with a network of 16 signed FTAs and 3 FTAs under negotiation.

Despite global complexities in recent years, Vietnam has maintained a stable macroeconomic foundation, controlled inflation, promoted economic growth, ensured major economic balances, and kept the state budget, public debt, and foreign debt below regulated limits. The trade balance has remained surplus, ensuring energy and food security. The labour market has shown good recovery and development. In 2023, key indicators such as CPI, GDP growth, trade surplus, and FDI attraction demonstrated robust performance, particularly in agriculture, contributing significantly to domestic food security and global supply.

The significant achievements are attributed to various factors and practical experiences, among which stand out:

A firm commitment to national independence and socialism, a fundamental principle aligned with Vietnam's revolutionary path and essential in the ideological legacy of President Ho Chi Minh. National independence and socialism are fundamental factors that mobilize comprehensive strength internally and externally, fostering a spirit of self-reliance, self-strengthening, and overcoming difficulties and challenges to achieve the goals set in the nation-building and protection mission of the Party, State, and the Vietnamese people.

Revolution is of the people, by the people, and for the people. Placing people at the center, as the subject, the driving force, the goal, and the most essential resource for development. Emphasis on empowering people's sovereignty; all policies must genuinely originate from the people's lives, aspirations, rights, and legitimate interests, with the happiness and well-being of the people as the striving goal. President Ho Chi Minh's idea of "the country is rooted in the people" is the inheritance and promotion of the historical tradition of building and protecting the nation over thousands of years, applied creatively in the country's innovation, integration, and development.

Constant consolidation and strengthening of unity: unity within the Party, unity within the people, unity among ethnic groups, and international unity. The precious experiences and traditions of unity have been encapsulated by President Ho Chi Minh into the concept of Great Unity: "Unity, unity, great unity. Success, success, great success." The Party, State, and the Vietnamese people have preserved and promoted this concept throughout the country's history of struggle to build and protect the homeland. Unity is also fundamental in garnering support and assistance from progressive forces worldwide for democracy, progress, and peace.

Combining the strength of the nation with the strength of the times, domestic strength with international strength. National strength is the internal resource, including the main pillars of people, nature, and the historical and cultural traditions of the country. The times' strengths include peace, cooperation, and development trends, scientific and technological advancements, a knowledge-based economy, and globalization. Clearly identifying internal strength as fundamental, strategic, long-term, decisive, and tightly integrating and harmonizing it with external strength is crucial and breakthrough.

Proper leadership by the Party was the foremost factor determining the success of the Vietnamese Revolution. Mastering, creatively applying, and contributing to the development of Marxist-Leninist principles and the ideology of Ho Chi Minh. All directions and policies must genuinely come from reality, respect objective laws, regularly self-renew, self-adjust, enhance capabilities, and innovate the leadership methods of the Party. Building a clean, comprehensive state and political system intensifies the struggle against corruption, negativity, and waste.

How does Vietnam manage to harmonize Communist ideals with certain market economy principles?

The significant achievements in developing a socialist-oriented market economy in line with the communist ideals in Vietnam in recent years are primarily due to a solid grasp of Marxist-Leninist principles, the thought of Ho Chi Minh, innovative application to Vietnam's specific conditions, and the embodiment of a patriotic spirit rooted in the country's cultural and historical traditions.

Vietnam's socialist-oriented market economy is characterized by modern market principles, international integration, and efficient operation following the laws of the market economy. It is managed by the socialist rule of law state, led by the Communist Party of Vietnam, ensuring a socialist orientation for the goal of a prosperous, strong, democratic, just, and civilized country.

This economy features diverse forms of ownership, with the state sector playing a leading role, continuous consolidation and development of collective and cooperative economies, and a significant contribution from the private sector as a crucial driving force. Encouraging and developing foreign direct investment (FDI) is part of the strategy, evident in Vietnam attracting USD 36.6 billion in FDI in 2023, a more than 32% increase compared to 2022, even amidst challenging global conditions. Such success demonstrates Vietnam's attractiveness to the international business community and foreign investors.

In the socialist-oriented market economy, the state manages through policies, laws, strategies, and planning, utilizing market mechanisms, market tools, and the laws of value, supply and demand, and competition. The state regulates these factors harmoniously, effectively releasing production potential and mobilizing and utilizing resources efficiently. The state issues and enforces an effective legal system, mechanisms, and policies to create a transparent, fair legal environment conducive to the development of economic components and economic entities. State regulation aims to achieve development goals in each period, connecting economic development with the realization of social progress and justice. It addresses market mechanism shortcomings, ensuring a balanced benefit and creating a favorable environment and conditions for rapid and sustainable development.

Overall, Vietnam's success lies in its ability to integrate and balance communist ideals with market economic principles, adapt them to specific conditions, and consistently pursue building a socialist-oriented market economy, contributing to the country's impressive achievements in recent years.

Could you please share the most critical decisions made by the 13th National Party Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, especially the short-term and medium-term development goals of Vietnam?

The 13th National Party Congress clearly defined the goal of striving for Vietnam to become a developing country with modern industry by 2025, surpassing the low average income level; By 2030, it will be a developing country with modern industry and upper middle income, and by 2045 it will be a developed country with high income.

To achieve the above strategic goals, Vietnam focuses on building the foundational elements for rapid, sustainable development - that is socialist democracy, the socialist rule of law state and the socialist-oriented market economy. Promote the implementation of 3 strategic breakthroughs on institutional improvement, human resource development and building a synchronous and modern infrastructure system. Building an independent and self-reliant economy is associated with active and proactive international economic integration. At the same time, Vietnam focuses on implementing major policies and guidelines in all fields in the short, medium and long term, including:

Regarding the economy, continue to prioritize promoting growth associated with maintaining macroeconomic stability, controlling inflation, and ensuring major balances of the economy. Promote economic restructuring associated with innovating growth models towards industrialization, modernization, promoting science and technology, innovation, mobilizing and effectively using resources, improving High productivity, quality, efficiency and competitiveness of the economy. Focus on renewing traditional growth drivers (investment, consumption, export); At the same time, strongly promote new growth drivers such as digital economy, green economy, circular economy, emerging industries and fields (such as artificial intelligence, semiconductor chips, hydrogen, etc.).

Regarding culture, society, environment, well-being of Vietnamese people and building an advanced culture, rich in national identity to truly become an endogenous strength, a driving force for national development and protect the country. Culture must be placed on par with economics, politics, and society. Arousing patriotic traditions, national pride, belief, and desire to develop a prosperous and happy country. We do not sacrifice progress, social justice, and the environment in exchange for simple economic growth. Focus on ensuring social security, constantly improving the material and spiritual life of the People. Strengthen environmental protection, prevent natural disasters, and respond to climate change.

Regarding defense and security, maximize the combined strength of the entire nation combined with the strength of the times to firmly protect the independence, sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of the Fatherland; maintain a peaceful and stable environment for national development; ensure political and social stability; maintain social order and safety; build an orderly and safe society. Promote decentralization and decentralization; strengthen discipline and discipline; Promote the prevention and fight against corruption, negativity and waste, contributing to strengthening trust among the People.

Regarding foreign affairs, Vietnam is steadfast in its foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralization, diversification, being a good friend, a reliable partner, and an active and responsible member of the international community. Focus on building an independent, self-reliant economy associated with proactive, active, deep, substantive and effective international integration; in which independence and self-reliance are the basis and strength to improve the effectiveness of cooperation and international integration. Practice over the past years has shown that this is a very correct and timely policy of Vietnam, contributing to helping the country overcome difficulties and challenges and obtaine great and historically significant achievements.

Vietnam today is one of the world's most important players in international relations, having friendly relations with all superpowers or significant countries. How does Vietnam successfully achieve this position?

Emerging from the profound scars of war, Vietnam, enduring unparalleled pain and loss, deeply understands the intrinsic value of peace. Guided by the spirit of "putting aside the past, respecting differences, promoting commonalities, looking to the future," Vietnam has orchestrated a transformative journey—turning erstwhile adversaries into steadfast allies, replacing confrontation with constructive dialogue, and evolving into a beacon of healing and progress.

In the aftermath of the conflict, Vietnam, with its open and comprehensive foreign relations, has woven a narrative of deep, substantive international integration. Once a besieged and embargoed nation, Vietnam now has diplomatic ties with 193 countries worldwide. Within its circle of 30 strategic and comprehensive partners, five are permanent members of the UN Security Council, seven belong to the G7, and 16 align with the G20—a testament to Vietnam's global resonance.

Part and parcel of this success is a foreign policy deeply rooted in practicality, inheriting and advancing Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh's diplomatic legacy. Embodied in the metaphor of "Vietnamese bamboo: solid roots, strong trunk, flexible branches," this diplomatic identity reflects Vietnam's unwavering commitment to self-reliance, national interest, and a spirit of solidarity, kindness, and loyalty.

The firmness at the root symbolizes a tradition of self-reliance, with bravery, steadfastness, and courage embedded in the body, enabling Vietnam to face challenges with resilience. The flexibility in the branches represents a nuanced approach—softness, cleverness, and creativity—in the execution of foreign affairs.

This foreign policy, marked by independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation, development, diversification, multilateralization, initiative, and active integration, is implemented with solidity, flexibility, and adaptability across all facets of governance. Vietnam's dynamic approach, achievements in socio-economic development, and an unyielding commitment to the "four nos" defense policy have elevated the nation's international standing.

As the regional and global landscape continues its unpredictable evolution, marked by unprecedented challenges, Vietnam's foreign affairs confront new difficulties. Yet, with a shared wish to collaborate with other nations and the international community, Vietnam stands ready to proactively, positively, and effectively contribute to preserving a peaceful, stable, and conducive environment for rapid and sustainable development. Together, nations can forge new driving forces for growth and unite to address shared global challenges, from climate change to natural disasters and epidemics

How do you evaluate the current relationship between Romania and Vietnam?

Vietnam and Romania share a longstanding and robust traditional friendship and cooperative relationship, which has flourished for almost 75 years. Romania stands as one of the earliest nations to formally recognize Vietnam, extending invaluable support and assistance during Vietnam's fight to reclaim national independence and reunification and its ongoing journey toward nation-building and development. Approximately 4,000 Vietnamese officials and experts have been trained with the help of Romania, constituting a significant intellectual asset crucial for the country's progress and prosperity.

Romania has actively assisted Vietnam with the EU Free Trade Agreement negotiations, leading to ratification and implementation of the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). Moreover, Romania was among the pioneering EU members to endorse the EU - Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA), showcasing its support for enhanced economic integration between Vietnam and the European Union. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when global health was in peril, Romania distinguished itself as the first EU country to provide vaccine aid to Vietnam, an act of solidarity that has been pivotal in enabling Vietnam to manage the health crisis and pave the way toward economic resurgence.

Vietnam holds in high regard and is deeply thankful for the timely, generous, and heartfelt aid extended by the Romanian government and its people. This sentiment is rooted in a shared history of friendship and mutual support, which Vietnam profoundly cherishes and remembers.

Furthermore, Vietnam commends Romania for its notable socio-economic advancements in recent times. Despite global uncertainties, Romania has exhibited a persistent pace in economic growth, consistently ranking among the upper echelons within the EU, with a growth rate of 5.9% in 2021, 4.8% in 2022, and projected growth of 3.1% for 2023. The rise in GDP per capita is a further testament to the country's prosperity, increasing to over USD 17,000 in 2022, with an anticipated surge to beyond USD 18,500 in the upcoming year.

In tandem with Romania's achievements, the bilateral relationship with Vietnam is witnessing substantial progress across multiple sectors. Trade exchanges have solidified, with two-way turnover nearly doubling from USD 261 million in 2019 to USD 425 million by 2022. Additionally, both nations have inked an Education Cooperation Program for the period of 2023 - 2026, deepening their collaborative efforts in the field of education. There is a concerted push to fortify local-level cooperation, which promises to yield mutually beneficial outcomes and further the partnership between Vietnam and Romania.

People-to-people exchanges are increasingly robust as more Romanian tourists explore Vietnam. With significant opportunities for collaboration and ample potential within the framework of our established and cordial traditional ties, Vietnam aspires to enhance its cooperative relationship with Romania. We aim to fortify political trust by escalating the exchange of delegations at all levels and through every channel; to intensify participation in multilateral and regional forums; and to create new milestones in trade and investment, solidifying them as cornerstones of our bilateral relations.

Vietnam is keen to advance collaboration in sectors where Romania possesses expertise and Vietnam has burgeoning potential, including education, culture, civil society, labor, and the burgeoning spheres of digital economics, green and circular economies, science and technology, artificial intelligence, and emergent industries.

We also look forward to the Romanian Government's continued support in safeguarding the legitimate rights of Vietnamese workers in Romania, facilitating conditions conducive to the Vietnamese community's integration and stable long-term business pursuits, and enhancing their role as a conduit between our nations.

You studied in Romania and worked at the Vietnamese Embassy in Bucharest. Please share your memories with Romania and your feelings when you return to visit Romania as Prime Minister of Vietnam?

My lasting impressions of Romania's stunning landscapes, its dynamic and warm people, and the hospitality and kindness I met at every turn, remain vivid in my heart.

The formative years I spent in Romania, immersed in my studies and work, are indelibly etched in my mind. I fondly recall the endearing faces, voices, laughter, and moments shared with my Romanian mentors and comrades whose significant impact steered us international students towards our present successes.

Both myself and fellow alumni, particularly the Vietnamese students who shared this journey, owe a debt of gratitude to the educators, peers, and gracious citizens of Romania who provided unwavering support throughout our academic sojourn. The skills and knowledge honed in this nurturing environment have been instrumental in our ongoing contributions to Vietnam's development and defense. Moreover, they underpin our active role in nurturing the longstanding friendship and cooperative spirit between our nations.

Returning to Romania is both a joy and an emotional experience for me. I hold on to the belief that this visit will serve as an impetus for further enrichment, deepening, and practical advancement of our amicable ties. Such enhancement serves not just our peoples, but fosters peace, collaboration, and progress on a regional and global scale.

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