Straits Times: Giving a boost to post-COVID recovery and Viet Nam-Singapore ties

On the occasion of President Nguyen Xuan Phuc's state visit to Singapore (February 24-26), the Straits Times published an article by Vietnamese Ambassador to Singapore Mai Phuoc Dung sharing about bilateral relations in the past time as well as future prospects, especially in the context of post-Covid recovery.
Bài viết của Đại sứ Việt Nam tại Singapore Mai Phước Dũng trên tờ Strait Times. (Ảnh chụp màn hình)
The article by Vietnamese Ambassador to Singapore Mai Phuoc Dung in the Straits Times.

At the beginning of the article, Vietnamese Ambassador to Singapore Mai Phuoc Dung recalled: "On a rainy morning eight months ago, I came to lay flowers at the statue of the late Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh at the Asian Civilisations Museum Green. This was among my first official activities after presenting the Letter of Credence to the President of Singapore and assuming the position of Ambassador of Viet Nam".

Set in a tranquil environment by the bank of the Singapore River, the statue of Uncle Ho, the Founding Father of modern Viet Nam, commemorates a short visit of Ho Chi Minh to Singapore in 1933 during his years fighting for the revolutionary cause.

According to the ambassador, the sculpture signifies how Singapore values the struggle for national independence of the Vietnamese people and symbolises the historical bond between our two countries, a history that will open yet another chapter with the state visit this week of Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

The foundation of friendship and mutual understanding

Singapore and Viet Nam established diplomatic relations in 1973 but experienced bumpy relations during the Cold War. As it drew to a close and as Viet Nam embarked on a policy of economic reforms in the late 1980s, the late Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet was keen to tap Singapore’s experience in socio-economic development and management.

In 1991, he asked the then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew to serve as a senior economic adviser for the Vietnamese Government. Responding to the request, Mr. Lee visited Viet Nam on numerous occasions to provide advice on macro-economic strategy.

In addition, Singapore sent a team of experts to Viet Nam to do field research and submit a recommendation report to Ha Noi. The Singaporean Government also established a 10 million SDG Assistance Fund to help train Vietnamese officials. Singapore’s timely support for Viet Nam in the early days of its economic renovation was significant for its subsequent development.

Strategic Partnership for active and comprehensive development

A year ahead of next year’s 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the 10th anniversary of the Strategic Partnership Agreement, both countries are currently enjoying a flourishing, multifaceted relationship.

"We have trust and understanding in each other and we share the same strategic outlooks on important international issues, including the rule of law, the preservation of order, peace and security, and the centrality of ASEAN in regional affairs", the ambassador stated.

Bilaterally, the two countries established the Viet Nam-Singapore Cooperation Commission in 1993 and signed the Viet Nam-Singapore Connectivity Framework Agreement in 2005. A bilateral consultation framework at the vice-ministerial level was set up in 2003 by the two ministries for foreign affairs, together with several other regular dialogues between partner agencies.

Singapore-Viet Nam bilateral trade has expanded unceasingly in the past decade, even during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, total bilateral trade reached roughly S$27 billion, representing an increase of 18.67 per cent over the previous year. Viet Nam was Singapore’s 10th largest trading partner in 2020.

Ambassador Dung stated this remarkable achievement is supported by strong investor interest. Since 2020, Singapore has been the largest foreign investor in Viet Nam. With a total investment of 7 billion USD (9.42 billion SDG), Singapore contributed to a third of foreign direct investment in Viet Nam in 2021.

According to the ambassador, people-to-people connection is another pillar of bilateral ties. Singapore is currently home to some 15.000 Vietnamese people. They work in different industries, including IT, education, construction, and hospitality.

Many of them have tied the knot with Singaporeans, making this lovely city their second motherland. Vietnamese cuisine and restaurants around the island have also enriched the cultural diversity of the Little Red Dot.

Đại sứ Mai Phước Dũng cùng cán bộ, nhân viên Đại sứ quán và các cơ quan đại diện Việt Nam tại Singapore dâng hoa tưởng nhớ Chủ tịch Hồ Chí Minh ngày 2/9/2021. (Nguồn: TTXVN)
Ambassador Mai Phuoc Dung and the Embassy and Vietnamese representative agencies in Singapore lay flowers at the statue of the late Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh at the Asian Civilisations Museum Green on September 2, 2021. (Source: VNA)

Promote post-COVID recovery

The ambassador emphasized that Singapore-Viet Nam relations have always been nurtured by the visits of its top leaders.

"The state visit by President Nguyen Xuan Phuc from Feb 24-26 continues this tradition, providing an extra momentum for bilateral cooperation during the pandemic. This visit is remarkable for the fact that it is the first such visit to Singapore by a head of state since the COVID-19 epidemic erupted", he said.

According to the ambassador, managing the COVID-19 pandemic, fostering economic recovery, addressing emerging security challenges, and promoting bilateral cooperation in regional affairs would be among the issues up for discussion.

Apart from a series of meetings with Singapore leaders, President Phuc and the accompanying delegation will also meet leading members of Singapore’s business community.

"Singapore is an advanced economy and home to many giant multinational corporations. It also invests intensively in sustainable and green development. This visit is an opportunity to lay the foundations for even more areas of cooperation, leveraging on the complementary nature of our economies", he said.

Economic connectivity, high technology, digitalisation, the green economy, clean energy and human resource development are some areas that offer great promise for future joint ventures.

Ambassador Dung believes that the agreements and cooperation programmes expected to be signed between the two governments and businesses during this visit will unlock much potential for mutually beneficial post-pandemic recovery and development.

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(Source: The Straits Times)