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Fostering relations with Middle East countries
12-17-2007, 06:45 pm

Vietnam’s overall aim is to foster external relations with countries in the Middle East and move towards tapping the economic strengths of these countries for rapid and sustainable development, says Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung.

Mr. Nguyen Sinh Hung who has just concluded official visits to the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar and the Kingdom of Bahrain talked about the results of the tour in a interview granted to the media. Following are excerpts from the interview. 

Reporter: Could you brief us on the outcome of your recent tour to the three Persian Gulf countries?

Mr. Hung: This was an official high-level visit to the three Persian Gulf countries by a Vietnamese delegation. The delegation was accompanied by leaders of the Oil and Gas Group, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) and several businesses who have established relations with their counterparts in the gulf.

During the tour, the delegation held dozens of talks and working sessions and signed cooperative documents with Government officials and leaders of leading business groups in the three countries.

In Oman, I met with the acting Prime Minister and other leaders from the oil and gas, economics, trade, foreign affairs and tourism sectors, and witnessed the signing of cooperative agreements between the two countries’ Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and also between the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group and the Oman National Oil and Gas Company.

During talks with the Prime Minister-cum-Foreign Minister of Qatar and President of the Qatar Investment Authority, we both agreed to open embassies in each other’s countries at the earliest possible time to foster bilateral cooperation. Notably, the PM welcomed Vietnam’s proposal for the establishment of a Vietnam investment fund worth US$1 billion, of which Qatar will contribute 90 percent with the remainder being generated by Vietnam.

While in Bahrain, I met with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and several other ministers, and we reached cooperative agreements between the two Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the two Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The two sides also made progress in drafting an agreement on labour cooperation and agreements on investment protection and double tax avoidance.

Business forums were held in the three countries, where we portrayed Vietnam’s image, the achievements of the Doi Moi (Renewal) process, the socio-political stability and the attractive investment environment.

Reporter: Could you elaborate on the significance of the tour?

Mr Hung: The tour is another step towards implementing the Government’s programme of action on Vietnam’s rapid and sustainable economic development in the post-WTO period and in line with Vietnam’s Marine Strategy till 2020.

Notably, the tour took place following Vietnam’s election as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2008-09 period, with the aim of fostering external relations with the three countries and others in the Middle East. Specifically, we aim to attract both direct and indirect investment, boost cooperation in oil and gas, labour, as well as the import and export of commodities and services.

The tour once again testified to the Party and State’s consistent external policy of independence, self-reliance, diversification and multilateralisation of external relations, and that Vietnam wants to be a reliable partner of all countries in the world for peace, development and social progress.  

Besides political goals, we took another step towards exploring the economic strengths of these Middle East countries.

The success of the tour is far beyond our expectations, but more importantly, it helps raise Vietnam’s prestige and experience in developing ties with the governments and business partners in this region, which holds so much potential.

Reporter: What should we do to bring fully into play the achievements of the tour?

Mr. Khoan: Successful penetration of these markets requires a close coordination between the relevant sectors and businesses, particularly between investors, importers and exporters as well as the financial, banking and insurance services. We must quickly and effectively implement our commitments and economic contracts signed with these markets. In addition, we should promote the image of Vietnam and its attractive business and investment environment to reach economic deals with new partners.

Another important thing is that several big State corporations and groups, especially the Vietnam Oil and Gas Corporation and the State Capital Investment Corporation, should grasp the opportunity to carry out strategic programmes such as those on capital mobilization, investment cooperation, exploration, exploitation and the import-export of crude oil and other oil-based products.   

As most countries in the Middle East follow Islam, which is quite different from Vietnam’s Buddhism, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs should instruct labour export businesses to pay special attention to providing information and educating Vietnamese guest workers to understand and respect the traditional customs and practices, as well as the legal system of their resident countries.

Briefly, the tour of the three Persian Gulf countries has brought about many economic benefits for our businesses and helped to raise Vietnam’s position and role in the international arena.

Reporter: Thank you. 

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