Romania-Viet Nam: Towards a stronger comprehensive future

The diplomatic relations between Romania and Viet Nam were established more than 70 years ago, on the 3rd of February 1950. This long-lasting relationship between the two countries is the vivid expression of a time-tested partnership.
Romania-Viet Nam: Towards a stronger comprehensive future
Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son (R) and Romanian Ambassador to Viet Nam Cristina Romila. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

Traditional friendship

Despite the geographical distance between Romania and Viet Nam, both people share many similarities. They are generous, friendly and welcoming people, trustful in their future, faithful to their past, promoters of a world of peace, multilateralism and cooperation.

The past seven decades remarkably witness the way generations of Romanian and Vietnamese people took the traditional friendship further, in a tirelessly and result-oriented way.

The virtue of our relationship, confirmed throughout the years, resides in the trust between our people, in a deep understanding of our history, in the mutual support provided during challenging times.

Seven years after the establishment of diplomatic bilateral relations, the cooperation between the two countries developed at a major pace with the historical visit of President Ho Chi Minh to Romania in August 1957. The main objectives and priorities of the bilateral cooperation were set up during the bilateral talks, as well as concrete projects in the areas of education, oil and gas industry, agriculture.

The last two years, marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, were a re-confirmation of the enduring nature of our relationship, emphasized by the mutual assistance in fighting the pandemic. Let me mention the face masks donations made in 2020 to Romania by local authorities, by the National Assembly, and the precious contribution to the Red Cross in Romania, noble gestures of affection and support.

In 2021, Romania promptly replied to Viet Nam’s needs in the fight against the pandemic and donated 300.000 doses of vaccines of its national stock, reconfirming its commitment to helping each other in need.

The traditional friendship between our countries has also been reflected by the contribution of Romania to the national development of Viet Nam, in terms of training, specialized assistance and project development, in the fields of construction industry, oil and gas industry, agriculture, irrigation, railways, geological exploration, transportation, mining.

The comprehensive cooperation and the traditional friendship between Romania and Viet Nam have reached new momentum in July 2021 with the phone talks held at the highest level of the state. On this occasion, President Klaus Iohannis and President Nguyen Xuan Phuc discussed various measures to extend and deepen the bilateral relations and agreed to maintain and promote exchange mechanisms and cooperation in some prioritized fields such as economy-trade, education-training and labour, among others.

Important trade partners

Since 2016, the growing importance of the economic and trade ties between the two countries was underlined at all levels of the bilateral political dialogue. During bilateral consultations at governmental level, within the framework of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Science & Technology Cooperation in 2016 and the 16th session of the Joint Economic Commission Romania-Viet Nam, in 2019, concrete measures were proposed in economic and trade areas aiming to intensify bilateral cooperation. I remember them vividly as I was part of the Romanian negotiating team.

The signing of the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and Investment Protection Agreement (IPA) in June 2019, one of the major successes of the EU commercial policy reached during the Romanian Presidency of EU Council, has also fostered economic cooperation between Romania and Viet Nam, bringing multi-faceted benefits for the companies, workers and consumers from both countries.

As part of the half-year mandate, one of the main priorities of the Romanian EU Presidency has been the signing of the two agreements between EU and Viet Nam. The Romanian EU Presidency has made substantial efforts to promote the signing of both agreements by the end of its mandate, in June 2019.

Romania is actively supporting the strong determination of Viet Nam to promote close cooperation with the EU in all fields, being among the first three EU Members States which ratified the IPA.

The commercial turnover between the two countries has been growing significantly in the last 3 years, although it has yet to reach the true potential of the two economies, which are developing dynamically.

As of December 2020, the value of the bilateral trade was 272 million USD, up 1,83% over the same period in 2019. Exports amounted to 48 million USD and imports increased by 7,99% to 224.2 million USD.

The main Romanian export products are pharmaceuticals and fertilizers, machines, apparatus and electric equipment, food and drinks, common metals, wood, textiles, plastics and rubber, medical optical devices.

Romania imports from Viet Nam electric equipment, textiles, plastics and rubber, common metals, glass and ceramic products, furniture, fruits and vegetables, vehicle parts and transport equipment, footwear.

Supporting multilateral cooperation

The world is currently facing a wide range of challenges, from widespread conflicts, extreme poverty, climate change, human rights violations, to the unprecedented situation generated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

One of the main lessons we have learned during the past months, which were very intense and complex for diplomacies around the world, is the crucial need for effective and innovative multilateral cooperation.

We have also learned that the rule-based international order - with the UN at its core - must be upheld and strengthened, in order to effectively address these challenges. As unconditional supporters of multilateralism and rule-based international order, Romania and Viet Nam are restlessly acting towards supporting these two goals.

Romania and Viet Nam actively coordinate and support each other within the United Nations, the International Francophone Organization and the ASEM fora. Romania supported Viet Nam’s candidature for a non-permanent member seat of the United Nations Security Council for the 2020-2021 and its mandate priorities aimed at peace, security and common prosperity enhancement, in the region and the world.

Romania welcomed the successful results of Viet Nam ASEAN Chair in 2020 and supported the Viet Nam’s foreign policy objective for an ASEAN centrality role in the region.

The view from Bucharest is clear: within ASEAN, Viet Nam is one of the most forward-leaning members of the organization in embracing the Indo-Pacific approach, by actively supporting the adoption of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), in June 2019.

Romania highly appreciates Viet Nam’s contribution to peace, stability, cooperation and development of the region based on rules and respect for international law, as well as respecting the legitimate rights and interests of all countries, including ASEAN’s central role in the evolving regional structure.

Romania-Viet Nam: Towards a stronger comprehensive future
Deputy Foreign Minister To Anh Dung and Deputy Minister of Health Tran Van Thuan received the vaccine batch from Romanian Ambassador to Viet Nam Cristina Romila at the handover ceremony. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

Romania fully supports the peaceful settlement of disputes in order to ensure stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the South China Sea in line with international law, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

Romania and Viet Nam are natural partners. They are both coastal states with strategic locations and delta countries which are facing the challenges of climate change. In this respect, Romania and Viet Nam can learn a lot from each other. Romania is willing to share its expertise and experience in the field of connectivity as co-initiator or member of regional cooperation instruments and initiatives, such as the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), and the EU Danube Strategy. Concrete steps in this direction were taken during the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council in 2019, when the Romanian government strongly supported the adoption of the EU Strategy on connecting Europe and Asia.

The strategy also refers to the importance of the Black Sea Area for the connectivity between Europe and Asia, bringing back to life the strategic role of our geographical region for the relations between the EU and the states in Asia-Pacific.

Fighting together against Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown, once more, that global challenges require common action, solidarity and cooperation. Starting with 2020, Romania has redirected more than half of its budget for international development cooperation to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, with special emphasis on consolidating the capacity of partners’ health systems.

On the foundation of the two countries’ solid friendship, the Romanian Government has decided to donate 300,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Viet Nam, in July 2021. The vaccines arrived in Viet Nam in August 2021, transported by the Romanian national carrier, TAROM. It was a very emotional moment for me, and I feel privileged to have been part of the Romanian team that made possible an urgent response to the needs of a close friend.

As unconditional supporters of multilateralism and of the rules-based international order - with the UN at its core - Romania and Viet Nam supported the initiatives of the UN system, aiming at offering a global solution to the pandemic. In this respect, both countries welcomed the Resolution United response against global health threats: combating Covid-19 adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2020.

Serving as Ambassador of Romania to Viet Nam is a privilege for me, but also a high responsibility, given the historical bonds between our two countries. We can count on a strong and mature background of our bilateral relations, on its human value.

It is the right time for the bilateral relationship to capitalize on those areas of excellence of both Romania and Viet Nam, building on the past that brought us together during the challenging history of the 20th century and that creates immense opportunities for further cooperation in the 21st century and beyond.

The future of our relation is in our hands! We can do more for the Romanian-Vietnamese friendship to multiply its layers of cooperation. Let’s do it! (in Viet Nameza!)

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