Vision of IRSEA. Romania has been continuously appreciated as a trustworthy partner by the countries in Asia. The bilateral relations between Romania and the Asian countries are free of direct political issues and with a rich history and dynamic developments over many years. Likewise, the relations between Romania and the Asian states are similarly robust at multilateral level, with a particularly strong cooperation at the UN, ASEM, ASEAN and other international formats.
In the aftermath of her 1989 democratic breakthrough, Romania has channeled utmost efforts towards deepening the integration within the European and Euro-Atlantic structures with an aim to safeguard her new democratic path, security and well-being of the Romanian people; it is against this backdrop that the bilateral relations with countries in other regions of the world have apparently developed at a different pace.
According to the Romanian President, Klaus Iohannis, the country’s bilateral relations with her partners in Asia, and not only, are expected to gain momentum starting with 2023: “At the same time, the investment of new energy is needed to reconnect or keep close, as the case may be, Romania's friends and partners in the Middle East, the Gulf, Africa, the Indo-Pacific and Latin America. In the current moment of global crossroads, it is not geographical distances that matter, but the proximity of values and action in mutual support when needed.” (Speech at the Annual Meeting of Romanian Diplomacy, 2022)
It is in this ambit that IRSEA continues to actively support, through all its means and its status as officially recognized think-tank, Romania’s steady efforts to further strengthen her long, continuous and sincere bilateral relations with her partners and friends in Asia. There is a need to know each other better, which is the target of IRSEA’s newest project titled “IRSEA Bridges to Asia”- an avenue opened for High Officials, Ambassadors, IRSEA partners and professional analysts, from both Asia and Romania.
The thriving bilateral relations between the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and Romaniaare convincingly presented by by H.E. Mr. Do Duc Thanh, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to Romania, also a good friend of IRSEA.
In his persuasive article, His Excellency Ambassador Do starts by evoking the historical and longstanding relationship between the two countries and continues by reviewing the political, economic, trade and investment, education, culture and tourism, agriculture, and labor cooperation areas of the bilateral relation. Ambassador Do concludes by providing visionary ideas for the continuous enhancement of the relations between the two peoples and countries.
Viet Nam and Romania share a longstanding relationship. On the 3rd February 1950, Romania was among the first countries establishing diplomatic relations with Viet Nam. The time-tested bilateral traditional friendship and multi-faceted cooperation have been consolidated and flourished in different areas, from political to economic, trade and investment, education, culture and tourism, agriculture, and labor cooperation.
The political relationship between the two countries is reflected in the exchanges of delegations at all levels, political consultations, mutual support in regional and international forums, especially in recent years, the active role played by Romania, as the President of the European Union Council in 2019, in the signing and ratification of the Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) between the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam and the European Union, the donation of 300,000 doses of vaccine to Viet Nam, as well as the assistance granted to around 1,500 Vietnamese evacuated from Ukraine.
Bilateral trade exchange between Viet Nam and Romania increases steadily at an average of 15%/year, reaching 425 million USD in 2022 from 227 million USD in 2017. The main exports of Viet Nam to Romania include machinery, equipment and spare parts (109.6 million USD), fiber (24.5 million USD), seafood products (24.5 million USD), computer and electronic products (11.6 million USD), iron and steel products (9.2 million USD), coffee (6.48 million USD), etc. Viet Nam’s mainly imports from Romania products are such as livestock feed (7.6 million USD), electrical equipment and electronic components (6.9 million USD), pharmaceuticals (6.3 million USD), woolen products (4.7 million USD), furniture products (3.4 million USD), etc… Being the world’s biggest exporter of cashew nuts and peper accounting for more than 35% of the world market, the 2nd biggest exporter of coffee and rice, the 3rd biggest exporter in rubber and footwear and the 4th biggest exporter of textile & garments, products of quality from Viet Nam can offer a wider selection for consumers in Romania. Sound achievements have also been witnessed in the cooperation in education and vocational training. About 4.000 Vietnamese graduates with higher education certificates from Romania have made recognizable contributions to Viet Nam’s development, some are currently holding important roles in the society. Those intellectuals are now the bridges to further boost cooperation and friendship between the two countries. The Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social affairs of Viet Nam and the Ministry of Labor and Social Justice of Romania signed in 2018 promotes cooperation in labor with about 5,000 Vietnamese workers who came to work in Romania in mechanical production, engineering, construction and services, offering solution on reducing burden of labor shortage in Romania on one hand, and opportunities of being trained with new advanced techniques for Vietnamese workers on the other. Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social affairs of Viet Nam and the Ministry of Labor and Social Justice of Romania signed in 2018 promotes cooperation in labor with about 5,000 Vietnamese workers came to work in Romania, offering solution on reducing burden of labor shortage in Romania on one hand, and opportunities of being trained with new advanced techniques on the other. Whether in mechanical production, engineering, construction or services, they are acknowledged for their expertise and hard-working aspect.
Viet Nam has accomplished impressive achievements in development for national growth and prosperity of the people. Viet Nam’s GDP growth rate is recorded at 5.9%/year in the period 2010 – 2020 and 8.02% to reach 409 billion USD in 2022 (with 732 billion of foreign trade – making Viet Nam become one of the top 20 economies with the largest trade scale). From having a post-war devastated infrastructure to becoming a middle-income country in 2015, Viet Nam has been recognized by the United Nations as one of the leading countries in realizing Millennium Development Goals, the 36th largest economy in the world as measured by GDP and “the bright spot” in the picture of global economic in 2022. Viet Nam becomes a responsible member of international organizations and institutions such as IMF, WB, ASEAN, ASEM, APEC, WTO and commits to comprehensive international economic integration. Viet Nam has diplomatic relationships with 192 countries, strategic partnership with 17 countries, comprehensive strategic partnership with 13 countries, and 15 multilateral and bilateral FTAs including EVFTA and EVIPA signed in 2019. Thus, Viet Nam is not only a stable market of almost 100 million people but also a regional magnitude market.
With the sound traditional friendship, in a current context of an ever-changing post-Covid-19 world, Viet Nam and Romania could further strengthen their ties in a number of fields:
• Enhancing political cooperation by promoting regular exchange of delegations at all levels, inter-parliamentary exchanges, political consultations, coordination at multilateral forums; in particular, high-level visits will create new motives for cooperation.
• Relaunching or signing cooperation projects and documents, bilateral agreements on culture, education, consular, anti-double taxation, mutual legal assistance, citizen protection, etc.
• Focusing on connection and cooperation between localities (such as signing of memorandum of understanding between Ben Tre – Tulcea, Lao Cai – Hunedoara, Da Nang – Timișoara, Hue and Iași,); Linking relationships between universities, hospitals, research institutions...; Signing the memorandums of understanding on cooperation in all fields of culture, education, research (river basin management, ecological environment...).
• Building relationship networks, for example establishing Viet Nam – Romania Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Romania – Viet Nam friendship groups, etc.; Promoting the role of the Vietnamese community in Romania, a community that is although not numerous (about 1,000 people), but successfully integrates into the local society, is united and always orient towards the country, acting as a bridge to boost bilateral friendship.
• Focusing on trade cooperation, especially in products that each country has competitive advantage and is complementary to each other: agricultural products such as coffee, fruit, honey, seafood, pharmaceutical products, textiles, footwear, etc.; optimizing travel and exchange of goods between Viet Nam and Romania, as well as between Eastern European and ASEAN markets, by seeking more advanced forms of transport, for instance direct flight and sea routes connecting Constanța port and Viet Nam’s deep seaports…
• Supporting businesses, promoting investment activities which were interrupted by the pandemic; supplementing businesses with information about EVFTA and EVIPA to effectively utilize these two agreements.
• Encouraging bilateral investment – which is still modest at the moment through promoting the EU's early adoption of the EVIPA; urging the existing cooperation, or introducing new and potential sectors of mutual benefits for both sides to invest in, such as modern agriculture, textiles, construction, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, "green and digital" projects, clean energy, telecommunications, development of infrastructure, highways, railways, hi-tech fields, artificial intelligence and smart cities, etc.
• Strengthening the promotion of labor cooperation, coordinating with functional agencies to exercise strict control in this field, equipping the workers with necessary knowledge and skills and create the most favorable conditions for workers to quickly integrate with local community, improving their working and living conditions.
Viet Nam always acknowledges and highly appreciates the valuable assistance extended by the Romanian Government and People to Viet Nam during the struggle for independence, in construction of the country. Together we will make every effort to contribute to promoting, deepening as well as enhancing the traditional relationship between the two nations to reach new level - based on mutual understanding and trust, for the interest of the two nations. For that objective we warmly welcome Romanian citizens and businesses to the beautiful country of Viet Nam./.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position or view of IRSEA.