This is the first visit to Austria by a Vietnamese President in the past 15 years, and the first trips to Italy and the Vatican by a Vietnamese head of state in the past seven years. The President's visit to Italy will be also the most important highlight on the occasion of the 50th founding anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations and the 10th anniversary of the Strategic Partnership.
The first destination of the President’s working trip is Austria, one of the first European countries to establish diplomatic relations with Vietnam.
After more than five decades since its establishment and development, and thanks to the persistent effort of the leaders and peoples of the two countries, the Vietnam-Austria relationship has developed fruitfully and reaped many remarkable achievements.
The two sides have maintained contact and delegation exchanges at all levels. Political trust is an important driving force designed to foster bilateral cooperation in many fields.
Austria is one of Vietnam's top 10 export partners in Europe, while Vietnam is Austria's largest trading partner in ASEAN. Bilateral trade turnover in 2022 reached 2.79 billion USD. Austria's investment in Vietnam is valued at about 148 million USD. In addition, the two countries have gained positive results in other fields such as culture, education, and science and technology.
Within the framework of his European working trip, President Vo Van Thuong will also pay a state visit to Italy - Vietnam's third largest trading partner in the European Union.
Since the establishment of a Strategic Partnership in January 2013, the two countries have actively promoted practical and effective cooperation in all areas from politics, diplomacy, economics to science, and education.
During high-level exchanges, Italy always affirms its determination to promote multifaceted cooperation with Vietnam, and considers Vietnam a priority country with whom to develop relations in Southeast Asia.
Vietnam is one of the 10 emerging markets in Italy's priority list for trade and investment development until 2030. Vietnam is also Italy's largest trading partner in ASEAN.
Businesses from the two countries are always provided with favourable conditions to enhance cooperation in economic areas where Italy has strengths and Vietnam has demand, such as mechanical engineering, textiles, leather shoes, wood processing, and renewable energy.
Last year, two-way trade turnover reached more than 6.2 billion USD, up 11% year-on-year.
Despite being located on different continents, the geographical distance cannot prevent the close relationship between the people of Vietnam and Italy. This connection is partly strengthened through vibrant cultural exchange activities.
In 2023, the Vietnam Year in Italy and the Italy Year in Vietnam are being organised to celebrate the 50th anniversary of bilateral ties. A string of diverse activities are being organised to help people of both countries enhance their mutual understanding and come closer together.
In the 2003 – 2013 period, the Italian government, in coordination with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), supported Vietnam in restoring the My Son Sanctuary with a total budget of USD 1.5 million.
Vietnam also granted permission to establish Casa Italia (Italian House) in Hanoi in 2019 and the Italian Cultural Institute in Hanoi in 2022.
The relationship between Vietnam and the Vatican has seen much positive progress. Since 2011, the Vatican's non-resident special envoys have been operating in Vietnam. Both sides have maintained high level exchanges as well as the Vietnam-Holy See joint working group.
The relationship between the Holy See, the Catholic Church in Vietnam, and the Vietnamese authorities at all levels is maintained on the basis of mutual understanding, dialogue, and respect. The Vietnamese community in the Vatican is divided into two groups: those who work for the Holy See and those who reside there.
Promising prospects are opening up for creating breakthroughs in the development of relations between Vietnam and its European partners. The working trip of President Vo Van Thuong not only aims to continue implementing the foreign policy of the 13th National Party Congress on independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation and development, but also provides an opportunity to promote and deepen Vietnam’s bilateral cooperation with Austria, Italy and the Vatican.