The visit is an important milestone, helping to consolidate political trust, strengthen strategic cohesion, and enhancing the effectiveness of bilateral cooperation while affirming the consistent policy of Vietnam in regarding Russia as the top prioritised partner in its foreign policy. The visit is also expected to create a new impetus to foster the comprehensive strategic partnership between Vietnam and Russia to develop in a deep, substantive and effective manner.
The Vietnamese people are happy to share achievements in all aspects that Russia has accomplished in the past years. Russia's socio-political situation is quite stable, with high consensus among the people. In addition, Russia successfully held a presidential election on March 18 under which veteran and highly-respected leader Vladimir Putin won an overwhelming victory with nearly 77% of the vote and established the government for a new tenure.
However, Russia is currently facing many difficulties due to the Western policies of siege and embargo against the country. In this context, thanks to the implementation of radical reform measures, the Russian economy continues to recover and maintain its momentum of growth with a GDP growth rate of 1.5% in 2017 and an estimated nearly 2% in 2018. The Russian Government has set a strategy for socio-economic development until 2025 with the goal of developing Russia to be among the top five economies in the world.
Regarding foreign policy, Russia has insisted on multilateral and equal diplomacy while appreciating the central role of the United Nations and supporting the multipolar world in addition to asserting its position as a powerful nation with an important role in addressing complicated regional and world issues.
Russia also continues to promote a "Look East" policy and pay attention to developing relations with Vietnam while attaching importance to Vietnam in its cooperation strategy in the Asia-Pacific region and considering Vietnam as its leading partner in Southeast Asia.
General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong's visit to Russia takes place ahead of big events of the two countries, including the 25th anniversary of a treaty on the basic principles for bilateral friendship in 2019 and the 70th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between Vietnam and Russia in 2020. We are pleased to see that the comprehensive strategic partnership between Vietnam and Russia has been constantly consolidated and strengthened.
The Vietnamese people always remember and appreciate the enthusiastic support of the people of the former Soviet Union, including the Russian people for the revolutionary cause and the national construction of Vietnam.
The traditional and trusted friendship is marked by regular high-level visits and exchanges between the two countries. The relations between Parties, States, Governments, Parliaments, and peoples are strengthened in a deep and substantive manner, contributing to boosting the bilateral relationship.
In addition, economic and trade cooperation between Vietnam and Russia has grown positively, particularly after the free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union took effect in October 2016. Two-way trade revenue reached US$3.55 billion in 2017, an annual increase of more than 30%. Russia ranks 22nd out of 117 countries and territories investing in Vietnam with 116 projects and a total registered capital of US$990 million. Vietnam also has 23 investment projects in Russia with a total investment capital of nearly US$3 billion.
Cooperation in the field of education and training has also expanded with an increasing number of Vietnamese students provided with scholarships to study in Russia and the number has reached 1,000 students per year. The two countries also see growth in culture, humanities, and tourism cooperation, with the number of Russian tourists to Vietnam increasing by an average of 30% per year to reach 574,000 in 2017.
General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong's official visit to Russia aims to continue implementing the independent, self-reliant, peaceful, cooperative and multilateral foreign policy of Vietnam and affirms Vietnam's active integration into the world to create an international environment conducive to the cause of national construction, protection and development.
The General Secretary's visit is a political event of landmark importance in the relations between Vietnam and Russia, contributing to boosting the multifaceted cooperation between the two countries in the new situation. The visit will also contribute to the effective implementation of a number of cooperation contents and drive stronger progress in economic, trade and investment cooperation between Vietnam and Russia.
May General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong's official visit to Russia be a success, creating a new impetus for promoting the comprehensive strategic partnership between Vietnam and Russia and creating positive changes in all fields of cooperation, especially economics, trade and investment in order to contribute to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the world.