Vietnam – Myanmar: Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership looks forward to the future

Myanmar is among the first countries which established the relations with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In 1947, Vietnam set up its first liaison office in Yangon. In 1948, the two sides agreed to upgrade the liaison office to the Office of Information and Propaganda and in 1957 upgraded it into the Consulate General. On May 28, 1975, the two countries officially established diplomatic relations and set up embassies in the two countries.
vietnam myanmar comprehensive cooperative partnership looks forward to the future Artist captures the splendour of Myanmar
vietnam myanmar comprehensive cooperative partnership looks forward to the future Vietjet offers tickets priced at 0 VND at Myanmar tourism expo

Comprehensive cooperative partnership

In November 1954, Prime Minister U Nu visited Vietnam, signed a joint statement with President Ho Chi Minh, taking the "five principles of peaceful coexistence" as a basis for bilateral relations. In February 1958, President Ho Chi Minh visited Myanmar. In the joint statement of the visit, Myanmar affirmed its support for the unification of Vietnam under the Geneva Agreement. Since then, the relationship between Vietnam and Myanmar has always been nurtured, strengthened and developed. On the occasion of the State visit to Myanmar by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in August 2017, the two sides signed a joint statement on upgrading relations to "Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership" framework.

According to the joint statement, Vietnam-Myanmar relations are defined with a new framework of partnership and comprehensive cooperation on all aspects, including five pillars: i) political cooperation; (ii) defense and security cooperation; (iii) economic cooperation; (iv) cultural, social and people-to-people exchanges; and (v) regional and international cooperation.

With new framework, the relations between the two countries have seen significant progress. Economic relations, trade and investment have gained great results. Trade turnover reached $ 548.3 million in 2016, surpassing the goal of $ 500 million set by the leaders of the two countries. In 2017, two-way trade reached $ 828.3 million, up 51% from 2016.

Vietnam became the seventh largest foreign investor in Myanmar with 70 projects with total registered capital of around $ 2 billion. The Association of Vietnamese Investors in Myanmar has been established and actively operated. Among the effective projects are: Hoang Anh Gia Lai Complex Center in Yangon, direct flight between Vietnam and Myanmar of Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet Air, Office of Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), telecommunication network of Viettel in Myanmar (Mytel) ... Up to now, Vietnam has had more than 200 enterprises having presentatives in Myanmar in various forms: representative office, branch, joint venture and company with 100% Vietnamese capital.

vietnam myanmar comprehensive cooperative partnership looks forward to the future
Hoang Anh Gia Lai Complex Center in Yangon. (Photo: Nikkei)

The bilateral security and defense cooperations have developed deeply, effectively and practically, with new forms of cooperation such as exchanges of young officers, training in Vietnamese and Myanmar languges; military healthcare; defense industry; border management, anti-illegal migration, anti-smuggling ...

The two countries have also signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) on culture and education cooperation, creating momentum for cooperation programs, exchanges on culture, education and sports between the two countries.

Looking towards the future

The bilateral relationship has developed in many aspects, in the spirit of mutual benefit, contributing positively to the development of each country. There have been many advantages to bringing the relationship into the new depth.

It is a great advantage when the leaders of the two countries maintain regular talks and exchanges and reach agreements in many areas of cooperation. The two sides have the mechanism of annual meeting of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation, Political Consultation, Security and Defense Consultation, and the Joint Subcommittee on Trade Cooperation. Every year, both sides organize trade fairs to introduce products and attract investment into each country. During the official visit to Vietnam (April 2018) by Myanmar State Counselor, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister of the Office of the President of Myanmar Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the two countries deepened their Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership by better defining the direction of cooperation, for the time being and for the future.

vietnam myanmar comprehensive cooperative partnership looks forward to the future
Mrs. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visited Ha Noi in April 2018.

The two countries have emphasized the exchange of delegations at all levels and channels, including the Party, the Government and the National Assembly; agreed that the close cooperation on the party channel is an important pillar, that the people-to-people exchanges will contribute to strengthening friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

The leaders of the two countries have also expressed their determination to boost cooperation in trade, investment, security and defense, agriculture, forestry and fishery as well as to promote cooperation in the field of finance and banking, education, health, justice, energy-petroleum, tourism, transportation and telecommunications.

The two governments have clarified the concept of Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership that being comprehensive means being deepened; and, the more deeply the relation develops, the more comprehensive it becomes. The two countries will soon sign the 2018-2023 Action Plan to implement the Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership effectively.

In addition, the two countries share not only the history of fighting for national independence, but the people of the two countries are closer due to cultural similarities. This is a good advantage to promote people-to-people exchanges, cultural cooperation and community building.

In the process of promoting the partnership between the two countries, however, there exist some challenges. Firstly, the cooperation in politics and defense is always considered as sensative issue. From the bilateral aspect, both countries have shared experience in stabilizing political situation, ensuring security, promoting economy as well as respect for the principle of non-inteference in the internal affairs. From the mutilateral aspect, the two countries are ASEAN member countries who have the responsibility to contribute to the Association’s common voice while keeping the bilteral relations in line with the multilateral cooperation and vice versa.

Secondly, the complexity of Myanmar’s internal politics draws much concentration from the Government of Myanmar. Therefor forging a stable diplomatic policy is also a great challenge for the country.

Thirdly, given the current complex situation in the region and over the world, when the crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine State is being internationalized and the issue of the South China Sea is threatening the sovereignty of Vietnam, both countries are under a lot of pressure from the outside. The two countries need to trust each, share views and information and views more often, further support each other in the regional and international forums to ensure the sustainable development in the relationship between the two countries.

vietnam myanmar comprehensive cooperative partnership looks forward to the future
Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon. (Illustrative photo: Vietjet)

Share and learn from each other

Myanmar has implemented the open and international integration policy after Vietnam, however, the civilian government of Myanmar has so far faced many difficulties in integration and development. The country has difficulties in internal politics, in the implementation of socio-economic programs as well as on the international arena. Humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State has become the focus of criticism and pressure from the international community.

However, Myanmar is a country full of life energy. The government, under whatever the regime, has expressed great determination, tireless efforts for peace and for national reconciliation and development. Myanmar people are peace-loving, gentle, hard-working and have a very high self-esteem that will help bring the country forward.

At this time, the role of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is very important. She is not only a symbol of democracy in Myanmar but also a daughter of General Aung San, who led the struggle for national independence. She is the one who can connect 135 ethnics of Myanmar, connecting the civilian and military leadership and leading the two important process of building peace and democracy. She is also an excellent diplomat who is able to help Myanmar overcome international pressure, pursuing independent and self-reliant foreign policy. She has a special affection for Viet Nam, the country that her father had special relations with President Ho Chi Minh.

Myanmar has always considered Vietnam a traditional friend, a reliable partner in ASEAN and in international and regional forums. Myanmar always expresses its desire to study and share experiences in economic development, innovation and reform with Vietnam. This is a good point for Vietnam to continue implementing and developing the Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership with Myanmar. Vietnam has been continuing to be a reliable partner, deeply sharing with the Government and peoples of Myanmar.

Vietnam should share its experiences but also can learn a lot from Myanmar, especially in the management of private economic sector and foreign investment, development of advanced general education and preservation of traditional culture.

H.E. Dr. Luan Thuy Duong

Vietnamese Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Myanmar

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