13:09 | 02/09/2016 Cooperation
(VEN) - Vietnam and Malaysia are important partners in ASEAN. The bilateral relations have been further strengthened over the past four decades. Vietnam Economic News’ My Phung talked to Malaysian Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Sofian Akmal Abd Karim on the prosperity of cooperation between the two countries as both sides are involved in regional and international agreements.
What is your opinion on the current state of relations between Malaysia and Vietnam after 43 years of diplomatic relations, especially since bilateral relations were upgraded to a strategic partnership?
Relations between Malaysia and Vietnam remain friendly and have developed over the years. We have seen growing trade and economic cooperation, investments from Malaysia, as well as frequent exchange of visits between government leaders and officials. There have also been active exchanges of visits between the private sectors and citizens of both Malaysia and Vietnam. Both countries should continue to work closely to explore new areas of cooperation for mutual benefit.
The signing of the strategic partnership between Malaysia and Vietnam will act to further deepen and enhance ties between our two countries. Malaysia and Vietnam are members of ASEAN, and we work closely with other ASEAN member states on issues of mutual concern, as well as to realize the full potential of the ASEAN Community.
On balance, I would describe relations between Malaysia and Vietnam as excellent, and have the potential to reach greater heights.
Education and training are an important area of bilateral cooperation between Malaysia and Vietnam. Could you share examples of programs or activities that have supported Vietnam in recent years?
Malaysia has been offering courses to Vietnamese participants under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP). This is part of Malaysia’s commitment to promote technical cooperation among developing countries, to strengthen regional and sub-regional cooperation, as well as nurturing self-reliance among developing countries.
The MTCP emphasizes the development of human resources through training in various areas which are essential for a country’s development such as public administration, good governance, health services, education, sustainable development, agriculture, poverty alleviation, investment promotion, ICT and banking. MTCP courses and scholarships have been offered to qualified Vietnamese participants since 1991. I am happy to note that more than 1,200 Vietnamese have attended various MTCP courses in Malaysia since it was offered.
For the past five years, Malaysian university students have participated in the Green Summer Volunteer Campaign in Ho Chi Minh City. This is done through the cooperation between the Ho Chi Minh City Youth Union and a Malaysian foundation for student volunteers called Yayasan Sukarelawan Siswa (YSS). It is good to have young people from Malaysia and Vietnam work together on community projects in Ho Chi Minh City. This is something positive, as it brings together the young people of our two countries.
Malaysia has a fast-developing tourism industry. What do you think is the key to promoting tourism cooperation between the two countries?
Malaysia and Vietnam are both in the Southeast Asian region and members of ASEAN. Because of our close geographical proximity, yes, we can and should learn from one another about best practices in drawing tourists to our countries.
Vietnam is well-positioned to become an international tourism hotspot, with your varied and ancient culture, and many sites recognized by UNESCO as natural or cultural heritage. Your country has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and natural attractions, and hospitable people. In fact, Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh City, has attracted many Malaysian tourists and shoppers.
There is ongoing cooperation in tourism between Malaysia and Vietnam. This is done through activities including travel fairs, exhibitions, travel packages and familiarization trips. Looking ahead, cooperation in the field of tourism between our two countries could grow further. The key is not to see our two countries as competitors, but as allies working closely to attract visitors to our region.
How could Malaysia and Vietnam boost cooperation as members of the ASEAN Economic Community and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, in your opinion?
The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) on December 31, 2015, and the signing of the TPP on 4 February 2016 involving both Malaysia and Vietnam reflect the vision of both governments to further enhance trade relations.
Based on an analysis by World Bank and PwC, Malaysia and Vietnam could emerge as significant beneficiaries of the agreement as compared to other countries with estimated GDP growth by 2030 to achieve eight percent and 10 percent respectively, compared to other TPP member countries.
With these expected growths, as well as the existing strong business links between our two countries, I hope to see more strategic collaborations and alliances could potentially be developed, especially in high-value industries such as construction, healthcare, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), automotive, and oil and gas.