At the invitation of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“the UK”) the Right Honourable David Cameron, His Excellency General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong of the Communist Party of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (“the CPV”) paid an official visit to the UK on 22 and 23 January 2013. This was the first ever official visit of a CPV General Secretary to the UK and as such marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Vietnam – UK diplomatic relations, the 20th anniversary of both the British Council’s and the Department for International Development’s operations in Viet Nam and the 3rd anniversary of the establishment of the Strategic Partnership between Vietnam and the UK. This visit also coincides with the 100th anniversary of former President Ho Chi Minh’s first arrival in the UK in 1913.
During their talks in London today, both Leaders welcomed the development of ever closer and deeper bilateral ties over the last 40 years and particularly the intensification of co-operation since the signing of the Strategic Partnership in 2010. They looked back to the progress that has been made in Vietnam and the UK over the past 40 years, especially Vietnam’s impressive record of poverty alleviation and socio-economic development and the part that the UK has played in this regard.
Looking to the future, both sides highlighted their intention to work together to inspire, learn, and innovate in order to fully develop the potential of their two peoples. Both sides agreed to enhance high-level visits as one way to deliver on the objectives of the Strategic Partnership 2013 Action Plan and in this regard the UK welcomed the official invitation extended to the Prime Minister by the General Secretary to visit Vietnam. Similarly, they encouraged increased exchanges between the CPV and British political parties as well as between CPV bodies and British Government agencies, academic and strategic policy institutions to meet those shared objectives. In particular both sides welcomed the leading role the CPV would take on anti-corruption, on which the UK is the lead donor partner in Vietnam, and undertook to work closely together on this agenda. Both sides agreed to work further on co-operation on media issues.
Both sides emphasised the two countries’ deepening strategic relationship as Vietnam sought to play an enhanced role on the global stage and agreed to strengthen cooperation and coordination at regional and international fora, including particularly the United Nations, ASEM and ASEAN-EU, in the run-up to Vietnam’s Universal Periodic Review of its human rights record. They stressed full support for an early ratification of the Vietnam – EU Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and the UK reaffirmed its support for efforts aimed at building the ASEAN Community by 2015 and ASEAN’s centrality in the evolving East Asian regional architecture. As the coordinating country for ASEAN – EU relations from 2012 to 2015, Vietnam reaffirmed its commitment to promoting ASEAN – EU relations in general and ASEAN – UK relations in particular.
Both sides further supported endeavours to build Southeast Asia into a region of peace, stability, cooperation and friendship; underscored the imperative of ensuring maritime security, safety and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea/East Sea, peaceful settlement of disputes in line with international law, including as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982. The two sides reaffirmed the importance of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea/East Sea (DOC) signed in 2002 and welcomed moves towards early conclusion of a Code of Conduct that creates a rules-based framework for managing and regulating the conduct of parties in the South China Sea/East Sea, including managing disputes and preventing conflicts.
Given the trade focus of H.E. General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit and the year 2013, both sides welcomed the opportunity for British business to engage with the General Secretary and his delegation at Mansion House with a view to increasing understanding of the Vietnamese business environment and the opportunities for increased trade and investment between the two countries. They further emphasised their continued commitment to achieving the targets of increasing bilateral trade to $4 billion and British investment in Vietnam to $3 billion by 2013. In particular the UK committed to support the process of negotiation and signing of the Vietnam – EU FTA, and early recognition of the Vietnamese economy’s market status while Viet Nam committed to working to further improve its investment environment, thus enabling British business to operate more effectively in Vietnam. Both sides welcomed Rolls-Royce’s intention to bid to supply engines for Viet Nam Airlines’ fleet of Boeing in 2013.
Vietnam expressed its appreciation of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) through the Department for International Development (DFID) in preceding years. Both sides agreed to build on the current strong partnership, focussing on key areas such as helping Vietnam achieve all the Millennium Development Goals, forge a growth path that benefits the poor and includes PPP , improve governance and tackle and avoid the adverse impacts of climate change. They would also work together to evaluate the lessons learned from their long development partnership.
Vietnam recognised the British Council’s positive contribution to the bilateral relationship during its 20 years in the country. Both sides noted with pleasure recent closer collaboration on higher and vocational education as evidenced by the high and increasing numbers of Vietnamese students choosing to study in the UK and especially by the joint support and commitment to work for an early launch of the first UK-Vietnam International University in Da Nang in 2013.
Both sides noted with satisfaction the growing defence relationship between the two countries, marked by their intention to open a Defence Attaché Office in London and the first visit of a UK Defence Minister to Vietnam. Both sides welcomed their enhanced security cooperation in the fight against serious and organised crime and illegal migration.
Both sides welcomed the increased people-to-people and cultural exchanges and looked forward to running a series of events in the two countries that celebrate the rich cultural identity of both nations and the creative opportunities emerging from those exchanges.
Both sides welcomed the signature of important documents during H.E. General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit, including:
- The Vietnam – UK Plan of Action for 2013,
- The first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Public Private Partnerships,
- The Agreement on the establishment of the Bilateral Defence Working Group between the two Ministries of Defence,
- The MOU on exchange of migration information between the Ministry of Public Security and the Home Office, and
- The MOU on measures to promote the establishment of the UK-Vietnam International University in Da Nang.
Both sides recognised H.E. General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s UK highly valuable visit as a catalyst for substantive progress on issues of mutual interest and importance. Both sides emphasised their commitment to continue working together in the interest of the two nations and for peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world at large.
The Foreign Secretary comments on the Vietnam’s leader visit to the UK