Vietnam and Indonesia strengthen cooperation towards peace, stability and prosperity

Wednesday, 25/01/2023 16:10
(CPV) – Indonesia and Vietnam, two sizable nations in Southeast Asia, have a similar vision of becoming developed countries by 2045 at our centennial. A peaceful, stable, and prosperous region is another goal shared by the two nations. To achieve these objectives and keep ASEAN in the driver's seat of the regional architecture in the Indo-Pacific, Vietnam and Indonesia must continue and deepen their collaboration.
Indonesian Ambassador to Vietnam Denny Abdi 

So said Indonesian Ambassador to Vietnam Denny Abdi during an interview for Communist Party of Vietnam Online Newspaper.

Reporter: In 2023, Vietnam and Indonesia will celebrate 10 years of strategic partnership. Could you please review the outstanding achievements that the two countries have made over the past recent years? In your opinion, what do these achievements mean in promoting the relationship between the two countries?

Ambassador Denny Abdi: Indonesia and Vietnam shared a vision to become developed nations at our centennial in 2045. Accordingly, our strategic partnership, established in 2013, has been extended to strengthen both nations' capacity to accomplish this objective. Indonesia is committed to advancing this strategic cooperation bilaterally and making more significant contributions to peace and development in the region.

During President Joko Widodo's official visit to Hanoi on 11-12 September 2018, the two countries signed the Plan of Action for implementing the Strategic Partnership for 2019-2023. The PoA has been a guide for enhancing bilateral relations on multi-dimensional engagements, covering political and security, economic, trade and investment, socio-cultural, and people-to-people exchanges.

High-level exchanges have been maintained despite difficulties due to the pandemic in the past years. The phone call between President Joko Widodo and Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in August 2022 and the meeting of President Jokowi and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in November 2022 were other notable accomplishments.

In the economic field, the two countries recorded consistent growth in bilateral trade relations, reaching USD 11.5 billion in 2021, exceeding the USD 10 billion trade target set by the two leaders. Our trade value increased by 9.77 percent on average during the past five years. Both countries agreed to set the new bilateral trade target of USD 15 billion by 2028. Our bilateral trade reached around USD 13 billion last year. These positive trends create a certain optimism that we can achieve the new trade target before 2028.

On investment, more than 30 Indonesian companies have been operating in Vietnam. With a total cumulative investment of USD 638.8 million, Indonesian investors have 105 projects in several sectors, such as property, animal feed, cement, spare parts and digital economy. For example, Ciputra Group pioneered investment in the property sector in Hanoi while Japfa Comfeed built its seventh feed mill in Vietnam. Moreover, some Indonesian unicorns and other digital companies are also present in Vietnam, including Gojek, Traveloka, Sociolla, and Ruang Guru (Kien Guru).

People-to-people connections have been enhanced through various activities both in Indonesia and Vietnam. For example, more than 600 Vietnamese students have learned Bahasa Indonesia, and some Indonesian officials have undergone Vietnamese language training in Vietnam's institution. Moreover, the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Social Sciences and Humanities-Vietnam National University Hanoi has adopted Bahasa Indonesia as a credited course for their students.

Furthermore, cultural exchanges are regularly maintained through collaborations between media in both countries. Vietnam has two media representative offices in Jakarta, Vietnam News Agency and the Voice of Vietnam. Indonesia also has a regular program of media familiarization trips to promote mutual understanding among people in Indonesia and Vietnam.

Reporter: The state visit to Indonesia by President Nguyen Xuan Phuc on December 21-23, 2022 was considered an important milestone that made the two countries’ strategic partnership deeper, more sustainable and more effective. Could you tell me more about this?

Ambassador Denny Abdi: The last state visit of the Vietnamese President to Indonesia was in 2013 when we elevated our bilateral relations to Strategic Partnership. In 2018, President Joko Widodo paid a state visit to Vietnam, and both countries signed the PoA on implementing the strategic partnership 2019-2023.

The state visit of President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to Indonesia at the invitation of President Joko Widodo at the end of last year was timely in the context of welcoming the tenth anniversary of our strategic partnership in 2023. Moreover, the visit was conducted in the background of the unpredictable global situation with heightened risks of multidimensional crises with wide-ranging socio-economic impacts.

Amidst these uncertainties, countries must promote the paradigm of collaboration and not competition. Dialogue and diplomacy remain vital in ensuring that our recovery efforts are sustainable and beneficial for all.

Thus, the meeting between President Joko Widodo and President Nguyen Xuan Phuc last December reflected our shared efforts to elevate the partnership to cater to the changing needs of our people in today's world facing complex challenges. President Phuc's visit to Indonesia also reflected our firm commitment to always collaborate for the best interest of our nations and peoples.

During their bilateral meeting, the two leaders commended the substantive development of the bilateral partnership. They also mapped out efforts to deepen cooperation for post-pandemic recovery, prosperity, and regional peace and stability by boosting cooperation in various sectors.

In the political sphere, Indonesia and Vietnam have finally concluded the EEZ boundaries based on UNCLOS 1982 after 12 years of negotiations. The two countries have also signed MoU on counter-terrorism cooperation and MoU on cooperation to eradicate illicit drug trafficking, aiming to intensify cooperation in addressing traditional security issues that are more complicated and interconnected.

The state visit serves as a momentum to expand engagements in various spectrums, be it G-to-G, B-to-B, P-to-P, etc., as well as in strategic sectors that are coherent with the sustainable development agenda. For example, the signing of the MoU on Energy and Mineral Resources will further promote our clean and renewable energy partnership.

During his visit, President Phuc also met with the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and the Indonesia-Vietnam Friendship Association (IVFA), which consists of businesses, academicians, art and cultural representatives. The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and IVFA have strengthened the bilateral relations between Indonesia and Vietnam, promoting trade and investment cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.

Reporter: In 2022, Indonesia held the rotating role of G20 Chairmanship and in 2023, it holds the role of ASEAN Chairmanship. In your opinion, with these positions, how can Indonesia and Vietnam coordinate to promote their voices in multilateral forums, thus contributing to solving hot issues in the region and the world?

Ambassador Denny Abdi: In 2022, we had the chance to witness how ASEAN promoted the paradigm of collaboration for recovery: not leaving anyone behind.

Cambodia chaired ASEAN, Thailand hosted the APEC Meeting, and Indonesia held the G20 Presidency. ASEAN was at the center and led the regional and global recovery efforts through these three separate but interconnected forums.

As the world is still facing complex challenges of unprecedented food and energy security issues, Indonesia strives for ASEAN to be more relevant and matter for its people and the world. Indonesia believes there should be clear continuity between deliverables during the G20 Presidency last year and the ASEAN Chairmanship this year. Continuous discussions are essential in accelerating the post-pandemic global recovery.

Furthermore, enhancing collaboration will be at the heart of our engagement as Chair of ASEAN. We are committed to reinforcing ASEAN's centrality to ensure that ASEAN is equipped with enhanced capabilities to deal with current and future challenges and continues to preserve stability, peace, and prosperity in the region and the world.

It is now the right moment to look beyond the progress and achievements, assess the challenges in the strategic landscape of ASEAN Community-building efforts, and identify emerging issues that need to be considered post-2025 and beyond.

As one of the most important countries in Southeast Asia, Vietnam plays a crucial role in ASEAN and has worked with other ASEAN members to build a people-centered ASEAN Community. Indonesia hopes to work closer with Vietnam and other ASEAN member states to continue consolidating ASEAN unity, reinforcing ASEAN centrality, upholding international law, and strengthening ASEAN relevance in facing the complexities of today's challenges.

Indonesia will also work with Vietnam and other ASEAN member states to address Myanmar's situation comprehensively. It is essential to ensure Myanmar implements the five-point consensus in its entirety soon. The support of the international community, including the neighboring countries of Myanmar, is vital to promote inclusive dialogue within the country.

With the theme of ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth, Indonesia is determined to make ASEAN essential and relevant for the people of ASEAN and beyond and make Southeast Asia the center for regional economic growth.

Our shared goal is to foster an environment where international law is honored and upheld, so there is lasting peace, security, stability, and prosperity in the region and the world. As the AOIP and its guiding principles are further implemented, ASEAN and its partners will be better able to respond to complex problems and advance sustainable development and inclusive growth.

Indonesia aspires to cooperate with Vietnam, other ASEAN members, and ASEAN external partners to foster strategic trust and mainstream the paradigm of collaboration. We must all work together to demonstrate how cooperation and friendship can benefit the world.

Reporter: Indonesia is currently the 16th largest economy in the world, the largest market in Southeast Asia, and one of the top 10 largest producing countries in the world. Meanwhile, Vietnam also made remarkable economic achievements, especially in export expansion, GDP growth and inflation control. What recommendations do you want to make for the two sides to be able to seize opportunities for trade and investment cooperation, thus proposing new areas of cooperation as well as create solid momentum for increasingly strong economic cooperation between Vietnam and Indonesia?

Ambassador Denny Abdi: Indonesia and Vietnam's relations are continuously evolving in line with the development of regional and global issues. Our economic ties are expanding to numerous sectors while our political relations remain strong. In achieving the new bilateral trade target, Indonesia and Vietnam will resolve the current trade challenges that both countries experience and increase market access.

It is also essential to commence the Joint Committee in Economic, Science, and Technical Cooperation (JC-ESTC) to discuss various breakthroughs to address these challenges and expand each market based on the comparative advantage strategy. With this strategy, we can build trade cooperation that is mutually beneficial and not resort to competition.

Research and innovation, high-tech industry, and green economy are three potential industries that will further benefit our partnership. As we have seen over the last three years, research, innovation, and technology have all aided in the successful pandemic management that served as a foundation for a more robust socioeconomic recovery.

Further collaboration in this field will help developing countries, including Vietnam and Indonesia, to maximize their potential in building high-quality human resources that drive innovation as solutions to addressing current and future challenges. Developing joint research programs between academic institutions and intensifying dialogue between   researchers are two forms of cooperation that Indonesia and Vietnam can pursue.

Strong research and innovation ecosystems in both countries will also open more opportunities for cooperating in the high-technology industry that can generate added-value products and services. This partnership will eventually increase the two countries' competitiveness in the global arena. As each country has its strengths and weaknesses, Indonesia and Vietnam shall build collaboration based on our comparative advantages to achieve win-win economic growth.

As the world progresses, all countries are finding ways to pursue sustainable development by, among others, paying more attention to the environment. As more countries have announced their commitment to ambitious climate targets and net zero emissions, transitioning to a green economy should be consistently pursued. That is why Indonesia and Vietnam are promoting cooperation in renewable energy, electrification, and environmental protection.

Both countries are boosting efforts for a cleaner energy transition through partnerships in building a conducive environment for investment in renewable energy and electrification. Greater access to green finance, technology, and investment will help Indonesia and Vietnam integrate green economy policies into national development plans to advance each country's Sustainable Development Goals.

Moreover, the two countries can collaborate in marine and coastal ecological conservation and promoting sustainable agriculture and fishery products to protect our environment. Collaboration in tackling the impact of climate change and environmental degradation is crucial because if we fail, the next generations will be left with a damaged world beyond repair.

Reporter: As a diplomatic bridge between Vietnam and Indonesia, in 2023, what plans do you have to continue to promote the two countries’ cooperative relations, especially in Indonesia’s key areas?

Ambassador Denny Abdi: Indonesia and Vietnam, two sizable nations in Southeast Asia, have a similar vision of becoming developed countries by 2045 at our centennial. A peaceful, stable, and prosperous region is another goal shared by the two nations. To achieve these objectives and keep ASEAN in the driver's seat of the regional architecture in the Indo-Pacific, Vietnam and Indonesia must continue and deepen their collaboration.

The 10th anniversary of our strategic partnership provides the perfect impetus for stepping up communication in identifying and developing innovative cooperation that adds more value to our relations. We must build on existing and new forms of collaboration to promote economic and social development, foster innovation, and encourage research and development for the advancement of our nations.

Both sides are now preparing the Plan of Action for 2024-2028 as our contribution to each nation's development target, becoming advanced nations by 2045. The PoA will also serve as guidance to collaborate in supporting ASEAN's efforts to preserve peace and stability in the region and build a strong and prosperous ASEAN community. The Indonesian Embassy in Hanoi is working closely with the Vietnamese Embassy in Jakarta and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in both countries to finalize the new PoA, supported by relevant agencies in both countries.

We are also planning to organize several events to mark our strategic partnership's tenth anniversary. These events aim to enhance the engagement of various parties that support bilateral cooperation and people-to-people exchanges between the two nations.

With strong population growth, Indonesia and Vietnam are currently benefiting from favorable demographics where the youths in our countries constitute more than 50 percent of respective population. As we know, young people have the most innovative ideas and are most motivated to create a better world. Therefore, they play a crucial role in our national development.

In this regard, the Indonesian Embassy is keen to advance collaboration in potential fields, including developing high-quality human resources capable of embracing technology and adapting to the changing nature of work. These collaborations will add more value to our shared development goals and the region's advancement./.

Phuong Huyen