Taking place in the context of Vietnam and the UK celebrating the 50th founding anniversary of their diplomatic ties, the visit is of special significance, contributing to strengthening a favourable political foundation towards boosting multifaceted cooperation between the two countries.
Vietnam and the UK officially established diplomatic ties in 1973. In 2010, the two countries upgraded their relations to a Strategic Partnership, opening a beautiful new chapter for bilateral relations. In September 2020, the two sides issued a new Joint Statement on a Strategic Partnership with seven priority areas of cooperation, while affirming their target towards raising the relationship to a higher level in the next 10 years.
During the past half century, the good friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and the UK has been preserved and nurtured by the Governments and peoples of the two countries. The mutual trust and understanding between the two countries located on the two continents have been increasingly enhanced through the maintenance of high-level delegation exchanges and cooperation mechanisms.
December 29 of 2020 marked an important milestone in the Vietnam-UK relationship when the two countries officially signed the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA), creating a driving force for their bilateral economic and trade cooperation. The UK is Vietnam's third largest trading partner in Europe, with a total two-way trade turnover of 6.8 billion USD in 2022, up 3.4% over the previous year.
The cooperation in other fields has also reaped many sweet fruits. Regarding national defence and security, the two sides have exchanged many delegations, as well as promoted cooperation in training, information exchange, and the purchase and sale of equipment. Regarding science and technology, the UK has participated in cooperation activities in the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, research and innovation and promotion of economic development and social security in Vietnam.
In terms of education and training, the UK focuses on developing cooperation with Vietnam, with the presence of the British Council in Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City. The UK has also actively promoted the participation of the system of leading British universities in training linkages, as well as built and developed higher education institutions in Vietnam.
Based on long-standing cooperation and friendship, the two peoples of Vietnam and the UK have upheld the spirit of solidarity and sharing, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK is a major contributor to COVAX, with the vaccine that was jointly developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. The UK donated 2,749,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Vietnam via both bilateral and COVAX channels. As an important friendship bridge between the two countries, the Vietnamese community living in the UK, consisting of about 110,000 people, has generally lived in harmony and stability and made active undertakings, contributing to strengthening community solidarity and towards the construction of the homeland.
In regional and international forums, Vietnam and the UK have witnessed close and effective cooperation. The UK has taken advantage of Vietnam's role as ASEAN Chair in 2020, to expand relations with ASEAN. Vietnam supported the UK’s request to become a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN and also actively supported the UK in the negotiating process to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
On September 8, 2022, King Charles III ascended the throne after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The King is the founder, patron and member of many charities in different areas, including the environment, business, education and the youth. King Charles III is very sympathetic to Vietnam. In the position of Crown Prince, he received Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong during his visit to the UK, in 2013.
During his meeting with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the COP26 on November 2021, Prince Charles expressed his support for promoting Vietnam-UK relations, especially in the fields of climate change adaptation, energy transformation and green and sustainable economic development. King Charles III sent congratulatory messages to President Vo Van Thuong on the occasion of his inauguration.
Taking place in the context that Vietnam-UK relations are on a good development momentum, President Vo Van Thuong’s visit aims to implement the foreign policy of the 13th Party Congress on comprehensive and extensive international integration, while affirming Vietnam's importance to the Vietnam-UK Strategic Partnership and to King Charles III personally. The State President's business trip also contributes to affirming the position and role of Vietnam in the region and the world, as well as strengthening exchanges and promoting cooperation between Vietnam and the UK, more deeply and effectively.