Vietnam's international integration achievements
Foreign friends have been impressed by Vietnam’s expanded integration in international institutions and its bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. Here are achivements of Vietnam’s international integration process in 2016.
Thanks to its correct integration policy, Vietnam has established its diplomatic relations with 187 countries out of 193 members of the UN. It has built a network of strategic partnerships with 15 countries and comprehensive partnerships with 10 countries, including 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council.
At the 29th diplomatic conference, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh told VOV “We have established relations with many countries. Over 15 years, strategic or comprehensive partnership relations have been established. Within only 5 years, an additional 8 countries became Vietnam’s strategic partners.”
Vietnam’s admission to ASEAN in July 1995 was a milestone in Vietnam’s integration process. Vietnam joined the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) one year later and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in 1998. The country’s membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in January 2007 marked Vietnam’s full integration in international institutions. In 2015, Vietnam and other ASEAN members formed an ASEAN Community.
Former UN Resident Coordinator in Vietnam, Pratibha Mehta, said at the 29th diplomatic conference “I think the integration agenda of Vietnam is very strategized and clear. It’s pursuing integration very strategically and systematically. Vietnam is globally integrated. It’s already integrated in ASEAN and has joined so many groups like APEC. It has many robust agreements. Vietnam has the peacekeeping forces and has set up peacekeeping training centers. These are every important indications of the desire to prove Vietnam’s responsibility to the world community”.
Vietnam has signed 12 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with 56 countries. Danish Ambassador to Vietnam Charlotte Laursen applauded Vietnam’s international integration.
She said “I think we have, over the past year, seen a steady growth in Vietnam’s integration with the world economy. If I should mention some highlights, I think, one of the important ones is the conclusion of the FTA with the EU. The one one would be the global climate agreement in Paris. I think finally, it’s worth mentioning the summit of the international parliamentarians hosting in Vietnam. As far as I know, it’s the biggest international meeting in Hanoi ever. Vietnam is taking the next step in its foreign policy from an active member to an active contributor to global integration”.
Vietnam has enhanced its stature worldwide while pursuing its national interests in an increasingly interactive world, seizing opportunities for national economic development, and dealing with risks in international relations. Vietnam has proved to the world that it is a reliable friend, a trusted partner for all countries, and a responsible member of the international community.
Vietnam was a member of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Economic and Social Council in the 2014-2016 term. Vietnam also joined the UN peacekeeping force and the International Law Commission.
Being a member of the UN Human Rights Council for the past 2 years, Vietnam has gained experience in effective human rights protection.
Vietnam’s Ambassador to the UN Nguyen Trung Thanh said “We have been actively working with the Council and related parties who are interested in human rights protection. Thanks to this interaction, Vietnam has directly contributed to bilateral relations, particularly with friends, strategic partners, and comprehensive partners, so building trust and strengthening connectivity.”
On May 27, 2014, the Ministry of Defense inaugurated the Vietnam Peacekeeping Centre and sent lieutenant-colonel Mac Duc Trong and Tran Nam Ngan to work as liaison officers at the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan.
On August 18, 2016, senior lieutenant general Vo Van Tuan, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army, reviewed the 2 years since Vietnam joined the UN mission.
“Vietnam has sent a total of 12 officers, 7 of whom have successfully undertaken their tasks and returned home safely. The remaining 5 are on duty. The Vietnam Peacekeeping Centre is working tirelessly to send more troops to the UN mission”, said Mr Tuan.
Ambassador to Kuwait Nguyen Hong Thao was the first Vietnamese person to be elected to the UN International Law Commission in November this year. He said Vietnam has taken a step forward during its international integration process.
“Vietnam’s candidacy to the International Law Commission matched the foreign policy of the Party and State, which spells out Vietnam’s integration in economics, culture, society, and law. This shows that our country is more self-confident and competent in taking both national and international responsibilities.”, Mr Thao noted.
During its 3 decades of international integration, Vietnam has gained numerous economic results. The nation has expanded trade ties with 155 countries and attracted direct investment from 70 countries and territories.
88 bilateral FTAs have been signed, expanding trade ties to 220 markets. In 2016, Vietnam signed bilateral FTAs with South Korea, the EU, and the Belarus-Kazakhstan-Russia Customs Union. Vietnam also signed the Transpacific Partnership Agreement with 12 regional partners.
With the completion of 15 FTAs by 2020, Vietnam will become an important link in a chain of 56 economies, including 18 APEC members. Vietnam’s export markets have been expanded to 230 countries and territories. Export grew by 22.6% from 2011 to 2013.
Vietnam is listed in the group of the 30 largest exporters in the world. It has joined 3 of the global value chains, including food and food security, energy, and apparel and footwear. Some Vietnamese products have established strong bonds in oil and gas, telecommunications, garment, textile, and agricultural produce.
Deeper international integration has promoted Vietnam’s prestige and competitiveness. Vietnamese products have established trademarks in the world market.
CEO Mai Kieu Lien of Vinamilk began to sell her products in Iraq, regardless of the war, nearly 20 years ago, marking Vinamilk’s penetration into foreign markets. 300 tons of powder milk and 2,000 tons of full-cream milk were transported into Iraq in 1983. Now, Vinamilk products are sold in 43 countries and territories.
Lien said, “I was not confident initially. No one had ever thought of Vietnam’s export of milk for children while Vietnam was totally dependent on imported milk. In early 1997, we donated milk for children in Iraq. The milk was approved to meet quality standards and we received an order of 300 tons of milk in 3 months. All of us were very happy and worked round-the-clock to fill in the order in time. Then Vinamilk officially became one of Iraq’s bid contractors.”
Vinamilk is a Vietnamese milk exporter and also a shareholder in a number of foreign dairy companies. In 2010, Vinamilk contributed 19.3% of its shares to build New Zealand’s Mikara whole-milk powder company. In 2013, Vinamilk’s Twin Cows fresh milk, produced in New Zealand, was launched onto the market. In 2015, Vinamilk increased its shares to 22.8% to produce high-quality milk for demanding markets.
Also in 2013, Vinamilk bought 70% of shares of Driftwood Dairy, the largest milk vendor for South Californian schools, and controlled 100% of its shares in 2016.
After its successful penetration into the European and American markets, Vinamilk inaugurated Angkor Milk in Phnompenh, Cambodia, in May. It is now running a project in Poland to grasp the potential of the European market.
The Viettel group is enjoying a rapid growth rate and has attained a foothold in the world market. A military-run corporation, Viettel, is now operating in 9 countries with different brandnames. It expects to earn US$1.4 billion from overseas operation. 35 million of Viettel’s 100 million customers are foreigners, making Viettel one of the 30 world largest telecommunications groups.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc spoke at a ceremony in December marking Viettel’s 10 years of operations abroad. He said “Viettel has become a prestigious trademark. The corporation is an effective investor with contributions to solving social problems and developing telecommunications sustainably in countries in which it invests. A prestigious trademark is the pride of not only the corporation itself but of the whole nation.”
Viettel and Vinamilk are typical examples of Vietnamese enterprises who are creative and dare to confront the difficulties to be recognized globally.
Young entrepreneurs have also played an imported part during the integration process.
It took Asanzo Electrics, a Vietnamese company, two years to win the trust of Vietnamese consumers. In 2014, Asanzo sold 100,000 TVs, just one year after its first factory was built. The figure rose to 500,000 in 2016, making Asanzo equal with the world top electronics brandnames. This was such a remarkable success for Asanzo leader Pham Van Tam. The company has exported its products to Cuba, Laos, and notably Cambodia which is predicted to be a major consumer of Asanzo products when the second manufacturing factory is built in 2017.
Mr Tam said “We are working with a South Korean partner who wants to be Asanzo’s sole authorized dealer. Asanzo is not dedicated to high revenues but quality. Vietnam’ electronic products should be acclaimed internationally, not only its farm produce and minerals. I hope other businesses will share the same ideas and efforts”.
Nguyen Tuan Quynh is a familiar name among Vietnamese entrepreneurs. He used to be a key figure in major corporations, for example Saigon Petro, Saigon Gas, and Phu Nhuan jewelry.
In 2015, Quynh challenged himself at the age of 44 by opening Alpha Books. He talked about young start-ups and their world market penetration“The connectivity of Vietnamese trademarks in the global value chain is an important factor in Vietnam’s integration, which is often thought of as just promoting exports. That means a Vietnamese company does not necessarily export its products directly to a foreign market but it provides service to a big corporation who is charged with bringing that service overseas”.
Quynh added that Vietnam has only a few world-recognized brandnames and it requires great investment. He suggested Vietnamese start-ups must operate effectively and develop sustainably from their early stages.
Vietnam’s integration has helped to promote its socio-economic developments and raised Vietnam’s prestige in the world arena, which laid a firm base for its future success.