PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc held talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on May 16th, 2016 during the Vietnamese leader's official visit to Russia. (Photo: VNA)
The visit takes place in the context that both nations will organise the Vietnam Year in Russia and Russia Year in Vietnam in 2019 and 2020 to mark the 25th anniversary of the treaty on basic principles for the bilateral relations (1994-2019), and 70th anniversary of the diplomatic ties (1950-2020).
Russia is one of the first nations to recognise and establish diplomatic relations with Vietnam on January 30th, 1950, which has laid the foundation for the close friendship and comprehensive ties between the two countries.
Following efforts to develop the bilateral relations in the 1990s, the countries set up their strategic partnership in 2001, and upgraded the ties to the comprehensive strategic partnership in 2012.
Regarding cooperation policies and mechanisms, they consistently attach importance to and want to bolster bilateral collaboration based on equality and mutual benefits. They have set up and maintained annual high-level meetings as well as close coordination at international forums, especially at the United Nations as well as ASEAN-led cooperation mechanisms.
Meanwhile, cooperation through party and parliamentary channels has been promoted, contributing to the sound bilateral ties.
A wide range of dialogue and coordination mechanisms have been maintained, including annual deputy ministerial-level strategic dialogue on foreign affairs and defence-security and deputy ministerial-level dialogue on defence strategy. Furthermore, they hold annual political consultations at deputy foreign ministerial level and department level in the cooperation framework of the two foreign ministries.
Both countries share the same viewpoint on various regional and international issues, and supported each other at international forums like the UN, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Asia-Europe Meeting and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
Russia endorses Vietnam's position on settlement of disputes on the East Sea via peaceful measures based on international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and building the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) soon.
Over the past years, Vietnam and Russia have maintained the operation of the Inter-Governmental Committee on Cooperation in Economy-Trade, and Science-Technology, which was set up in 1992 and elevated to the deputy prime ministerial level in 2011.
Vietnam and member countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, including Russia, officially inked a free trade agreement on May 29th, 2015. The pact came into force on October 5th, 2016.
Progress has been made in two-way trade which increased from USD2.7 billion in 2016 to USD3.55 billion in 2017 and USD4.5 billion last year. In the first two months of 2019, the figure stood at USD790 million, up 9.4 percent year-on-year.
Vietnam’s major exports to Russia include phones, garments-textiles, and agro-fishery products. Meanwhile, Russia ships petroleum, steel, fertilisers, machines and equipment to the Southeast Asian nation.
As of February 2019, Russia ranked 24th among countries and territories investing in Vietnam with 127 projects worth over USD950 million, mainly focusing on mining, oil and gas, and processing and manufacturing industry.
Vietnam has run more than 20 projects in Russia with total capital amounting to nearly USD3 billion, with the Rusvietpetro joint venture, the Hanoi-Moscow cultural and commercial centre and farms of TH Groups being outstanding examples.
Energy has been seen as a traditional, strategic, effective cooperation area between Vietnam and Russia, significantly contributing to the state budget of both countries.
Apart from Vietsovpetro joint venture, Russia’s major oil and gas groups like Gazprom and Rosneft will deploy many projects on Vietnam’s continental shelf by 2030.
Meanwhile, Rusvietpetro is also carrying out another project in a Russian autonomous region.
Russia has maintained its support for Vietnam in personnel training, with its scholarships to Vietnamese students increasing from 345 in 2011 to about 1000 in 2018. Currently, more than 5,000 Vietnamese students are studying in the country.
Over the past time, the two countries have joined hands in science-technology and established ties between their localities like Hanoi-Moscow and Ho Chi Minh city-St. Petersburg.
Humanitarian activities and cultural exchanges continue to be a bridge between Vietnam and Russia, contributing to enhancing mutual understanding and friendship between their people.
Russia has become one of Vietnam’s ten biggest sources of tourists and the largest of its kind in Europe. The number of Russian holiday-makers to Vietnam rose from 176,000 in 2012 to 606,000 last year.
Of note, people-to-people exchanges have helped to consolidate and develop the Vietnam-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership./.