Ambassador Nikorndej Balankura: Vietnam remains a top priority in Thai foreign policy

Monday, 12/02/2024 10:01
(CPV) - On the occasion of the Lunar New Year of the Dragon 2024, Thai Ambassador to Vietnam Nikorndej Balankura has granted Communist Party of Vietnam Online Newspaper an interview about Thailand-Vietnam relations and prospects for the two countries’ bilateral cooperation.
Thai Ambassador to Vietnam Nikorndej Balankura (Photo: Thai Embassy in Vietnam)  

Reporter: Since Vietnam and Thailand established diplomatic relations in 1976, the two countries have maintained and reinforced their good political relations. Over the past years, Vietnam and Thailand have held high-level delegations and meetings between leaders of the two countries; regularly coordinating and supporting each other at international forums. Could you share more about the diplomatic relationship between the two countries at present? 

Ambassador Nikorndej Balankura: Thailand-Vietnam relations have grown from strength to strength over the years since the countries established their diplomatic ties in 1976. The cordial and fruitful ties are underpinned by mutual benefits, trust and respect between the two countries. We have witnessed tangible progress in politics and security, economics, trade, investment, culture, education and people-to-people cooperation. Our partnership with Vietnam has further advanced when both sides agreed to elevate ties to “strategic partnership” in 2013 and to “Strengthened Strategic Partnership” in 2019. In the political realm, Vietnam, as neighboring country and regional partner in ASEAN, remains a top priority in Thai foreign policy. This was reaffirmed when Vietnam was designated for the first official visit of H.E. Mr. Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand on 25-26 October 2023. Last December, H.E. Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue, Chairman of the National Assembly, paid an official visit to Thailand to further advance legislative, political and people-to-people ties between two sides. 

Reporter: The year 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam-Thailand strategic partnership. Could you please highlight some critical points of this relationship milestone and share about the prospects for the two countries’ bilateral cooperation in all fields in the coming years?

Ambassador Nikorndej Balankura: The year 2023 marked an important milestone in Thailand-Vietnam relations. Both sides had worked closely to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the “Strategic Partnership”, with strong and continued support at all levels. High-level political dialogues and visits took place to celebrate the auspicious event, including the visit of Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Thailand to Vietnam to attend the 9th Thailand-Vietnam Political Consultation Group in June 2023, the first foreign official visit of H.E. Mr. Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand to Vietnam on October 25-26, 2023 and the official visit of H.E. Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue, Chairman of the National Assembly, to Thailand on December 7-10, 2023. Moreover, commemorating activities by both countries were being launched throughout the year 2023. One of the remarkable and successful events is the 1st Meet Thailand on August 3-4, 2023 in Quang Tri province. The event attracted approximately 500 participants from both Thailand and Vietnam, enhanced local-to-local economic opportunities, and increased Thai investors’ awareness of economic potential of Central Vietnam. Looking ahead, numerous promising prospects are expected in the year 2024 for Thailand and Vietnam as both sides will join hands in paving way for the elevation of their relations to new height of “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”, which will contribute to comprehensively strengthening and deepening bilateral relations as well as subregional and regional stability and prosperity. 

Reporter: Thailand is Vietnam’s largest trade partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the 9th largest foreign investor into Vietnam. The two countries expect to reach 25 billion USD in trade turnover by 2025. How do you assess this prospect of cooperation?

Ambassador Nikorndej Balankura: Around 10 years ago, bilateral trade between Thailand and Vietnam amounted to some 8.15 billion US Dollars, with only 292 Thai investment projects in Vietnam. Today, Thailand has become Vietnam’s largest trading partner in ASEAN with the total trade volume of nearly 20 billion US dollars. The Thai investments in Vietnam also tripled to 735 investment projects with total value of more than 14 billion USD, making us the 9th largest foreign investor in the country. Despite economic and geo-political uncertainties, the trade target of 25 billion could still be achieved if the two countries continue to create conducive environments for trade and investment flows, particularly, by supporting business exchanges between SMEs in both countries, promoting supply chain connectivity and exploring cooperation in new areas including renewable energy, electric vehicle, digital economy and hi-tech industries.

Reporter: Besides the good political-diplomatic and economic-trade cooperation that the two countries have achieved, how do you assess people-to-people exchanges between the two countries?

Ambassador Nikorndej Balankura: In terms of  people-to-people interactions, we have fostered very close ties between the two countries. Today both Thais and Vietnamese know each other better in terms of culture, language, movies and music. Last year, 1,033,688 Vietnamese travelers have visited Thailand (source: Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Thailand) and approximately 489,174 Thais visited Vietnam (source: VNAT). I see this number growing, especially after the pandemic. Thai airways had also resumed their operation last year to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, so I see a very promising cooperation in all aspects - political, economic as well as people-to-people aspects.

Reporter: What are your impressions on Vietnam’s people and development achievements in your term since you took the term of Thai Ambassador to Vietnam?

Ambassador Nikorndej Balankura: During my tenure, I’ve been very impressed with Vietnam’s achievement in all aspects. I also witnessed that Vietnamese people are very determined and hard working towards their goals. In this connection, I would like to be part of and contribute to the fulfillment of those goals and dreams. It is my hope that through increased Thai investment, Thailand can contribute and play a complementary role in helping Vietnam become a Developed Country by 2045 and achieve Net zero by 2050. It is also my conviction that through close bilateral cooperation, Thailand and Vietnam will play a significant role in elevating the Mekong Subregion’s visibility in the global arena.

Last by not least, on the occasion of Tet, the year of the Dragon, which Thai people believe is an auspicious year, I, along with my colleagues and staff members of the Royal Thai Embassy, would like to send our best wishes, may you and your family enjoy good health, joy and prosperity.

Reporter: Thank you very much!

Bich Lien