In an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency, Anh said that the 50-year journey that the two countries have taken is marked with an important milestone when they lifted their ties to a strategic partnership on August 7, 2015, making Vietnam the only strategic partner of Malaysia among the ASEAN countries.
The upgrade showed the in-depth development of the bilateral relations with strong political trust, while reflecting a new chapter in their comprehensive cooperation over all fields such as politics, diplomacy, economy, trade, culture, defence-security, science-technology and sustainable development, she said.
The two sides are currently working together to implement the Action Plan to realise their strategic partnership in the 2021-2025 period, paving the way for the further growth of the bilateral relations in the future.
Anh noted that over many years, Malaysia has been one of the leading trade and investment partner of Vietnam among the ASEAN member states.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the two sides still maintained the exchange of delegations and high-level meetings through all channels in flexible forms, including the Vietnam visit by then Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in March 2022, said the diplomat, adding that bilateral cooperation mechanisms have also been maintained and promoted.
At the same time, the two sides have strengthened defence and security cooperation through high-level meetings. The signing of the cooperation agreement on transnational crime prevention and combat in 2015 created an important legal foundation for the two sides to promote their collaboration in the field of national security protection, she said.
The diplomat highlighted the economic-trade cooperation as a bright spot in the bilateral relations over the years. Malaysia is currently the second biggest trade partner in the ASEAN only after Thailand, and ranks ninth among all the trade partners of Vietnam in the world. Malaysia is also the third largest export market of Vietnam in the ASEAN. Two-way trade has continuously increased through years despite the pandemic impact, reaching 14.7 billion USD in 2022, up 17.6% year on year.
Malaysia is Vietnam's second largest investor in the ASEAN after Singapore, and ranks 10th out of the 140 countries and territories investing in Vietnam with 668 valid projects totalling 13 billion USD. Meanwhile, Vietnam has 21 investment projects in Malaysia with a total registered capital of 853 million USD.
Both sides are members of many organisations, forums and free trade agreements (FTA), including the ASEAN Plus free trade area, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Anh highlighted, underlining that the two countries are enjoying huge cooperation potential.
Regarding major focuses in the partnership between the two countries in 2023 and following years, Anh said that the two sides will collaborate in promoting the effective implementation of the Action Plan to realise their strategic partnership in the 2021-2025 period, with special attention to the maintenance of political trust and exchange of delegations at high and all levels through all channels, and the promotion of economic cooperation, creating favourable conditions for the bilateral collaboration in new and potential areas such as Halal industry and digital transformation.
At the same time, it is necessary to facilitate bilateral cooperation mechanisms such as the Joint Committee on economic, science and technology cooperation at the FM level, and the Joint Committee on trade cooperation at the Industry and Trade ministerial level, thus realising development goals in particular fields, she said.
In terms of economic cooperation, leaders of the two countries have agreed to work together towards the target of 18 billion USD in two-way trade in 2025.
As the two countries have reopened their tourism market, they should resume connections in this sector, people-to-people exchange, education and labour, Anh held, adding that Malaysia is a potential tourism and investment market of Vietnam.
Halal food industry is also a promising cooperation area for the two sides, as Malaysia is one of the leading countries in building standards that can help Vietnamese goods access the Malaysian market and other Islamic countries in the Middle East and other parts of the world.
The diplomat also revealed that in the time to come, the Vietnamese Embassy will coordinate with relevant ministries and agencies of Vietnam and the host country to organise various activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam-Malaysia diplomatic relations, including a ceremony to mark the event, which comprises of a meeting, a food festival and art performances.
Commenting on the contributions of the Vietnamese community in Malaysia, Anh said that currently, there are more than 30,000 Vietnamese people living, working and studying in Malaysia. Along with making important contributions to the host economy, the community has maintained and promoted the Vietnamese culture in Malaysia and engaged in many charity and social activities in the host country, while working as a bridge connecting people of the two nations, she said.