11:00 | 01/02/2014 Cooperation
(VEN) - “Developing its relations with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries, is a national priority of Russia in the 21st century. Vietnam is our comprehensive strategic partner. It has for years maintained effective cooperation with Russia and served as a bridge between Russia and ASEAN countries,” Russian Ambassador to Vietnam Andrey G. Kovtun shared his opinion with Vietnam Economic News’ Hoa Le on the occasion of the Lunar New Year.
What are your views on Vietnam’s improving position in ASEAN?
In recent years, the role as well as the prestige of Vietnam in the region has strengthened. We highly appreciate Vietnam’s active contributions to efforts to build the ASEAN Community in the fields of security-politics, economics-trade and society-culture.
2013 marked a milestone in the development of Russia, Vietnam and the world as a whole. The global economy continued to face numerous difficulties, requiring countries to make great efforts to surmount negative trends. Despite external and internal challenges, Russia achieved its yearly economic development targets. So did Vietnam. The country continued to maintain macroeconomic stability and achieved economic growth despite certain hindrances. We have been happy to see Vietnam’s achievements and hope that you will be able to realize the goal of becoming an industrialized country by 2020. I believe the effective cooperation between our two countries will contribute to the realization of the goal.
What is Vietnam’s position in the external relations policy of the Russian government?
Developing its relations with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries, is a national priority of Russia in the 21st century. Therefore, the first decree President V.V. Putin signed as soon as he took up office on May 7, 2012 was the one regarding measures to implement Russia’s external relations policies, indicating the task of increasing the relationship with Vietnam - one of the comprehensive strategic partners of Russia in the Asia-Pacific region.
We wish to expand substantial cooperation with countries in the Asia-Pacific region in fields where Russia has advantages and regional countries have demand, such as energy, transport, food security, repairing natural disaster damages and space technologies.
Vietnam is our comprehensive strategic partner. It has for years maintained effective cooperation with Russia and served as a bridge between Russia and ASEAN countries.
What measures will Russia take to boost economic cooperation with Vietnam in 2014?
In the recent period, Russia and Vietnam made substantial progress in almost every field of bilateral cooperation. Thanks to the consistent efforts of both sides, bilateral cooperation has been considerably expanded and deepened. The upgrade of the Russia-Vietnam relationship to the level of comprehensive strategic partnership in 2012 evidenced the large scale and deepness as well as the stability of bilateral relations. It also required the two sides to pay special attention to persifying and improving the effectiveness of bilateral comprehensive cooperation.
Of course, the two countries still have many things to do because the great potential for bilateral economic cooperation is yet to be brought into full play. The development of large joint-venture investment projects will surely promote bilateral trade growth. Besides, the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and member countries of the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will also significantly contribute to the realization of cooperation objectives set by the two governments.
In the time to come, we must improve the trading mechanism and increase investment cooperation through encouraging businesses of the two countries to establish direct relationships. Russia and Vietnam can organize fairs, exhibitions and similar activities for businesses of the two countries to present their products and services. The cooperation between localities of the two sides will also create big opportunities.
Currently, Russia and Vietnam are implementing cooperation projects in important fields such as oil and gas, energy, including nuclear energy, mining, military techniques, banking and finance. Bilateral relations in the fields of science, technology and education have been strengthened. Exchanges and contacts between the people of the two sides have increased.
The number of Russian tourists to Vietnam has grown in the recent period. In the first 11 months of 2013, the number increased 64 percent - this was an impressive result. Therefore, tourism will be an important area of bilateral cooperation in the time to come.
The FTA between Vietnam and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan is expected to be signed in 2014. What prospects for bilateral economic cooperation do you expect from the agreement?
Russian Ambassador to Vietnam Andrey G. Kovtun: In recent years Russian businesses showed their growing interest in promoting cooperation with Vietnamese partners in fields such as banking, telecommunications, mining, tourism and some other fields. Of course, they may encounter some difficulties in the process of developing cooperation projects. But I think an important thing is that the two sides deeply understand each other and are always willing to deal with any problems which may arise in the cooperation process.
The agreement will surely lead to an increase in bilateral trade. But I would like to note some points. I don’t mean to discount quantitative targets but I believe ensuring the quality of goods in bilateral exchange is much more important. I think both Russia and Vietnam should not only look towards increasing bilateral trade but also maintain its balance and create favorable conditions for technological development to improve the welfare for the people of the two countries. Therefore, the FTA must cover not only trade in goods but also services, investment and technology transfer.
Negotiations on the FTA have been conducted along with activities of the Russia-Vietnam High-level Working Group on Priority Investment Projects. So, Russian businesses will have opportunities to increase investment in the Vietnamese economy. The larger reciprocal investment flows, the more goods will be exchanged. I think we must promote bilateral economic cooperation in this direction./.