|Mexican Ambassador to Vietnam Alejandro Negrin Muñoz (Photo: MOIT)
Reporter: Since Vietnam and Mexico established diplomatic relations in 1975, the two countries have maintained and reinforced their good political relations. Over the past years, Vietnam and Mexico have held high-level delegations and meetings between the 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?
Mexican Ambassador: The central value of coincidence between Mexico and Vietnam is the struggle to preserve our independence and our sovereignty at all times. For that reason, Vietnam, and particularly President Ho Chi Minh, is loved and admired in Mexico. It is very interesting to observe that our diplomatic relationship unfolds in multiple pillars and in each one of them we saw important results in 2022.
At the level of economic diplomacy, we observed an exponential growth in our relations and a very serious dialogue to improve access to our markets in the context of the CPTPP.
At the level of state diplomacy, in 2022 we had an intense political dialogue in which we came to the conclusion that it is time to move towards a comprehensive partnership and strengthen cooperation in all areas. At the level of parliamentary diplomacy, parliamentary friendship groups were established in the Chamber of Deputies of Mexico and in the National Assembly of Vietnam.
And, at the level of party diplomacy, we had multiple developments: two visits by members of the Communist Party to Mexico, and also great activism from the Labor Party of Mexico, whose leader, Alberto Anaya, visited Vietnam to continue promoting cooperation in specific areas with the extraordinary support of the Vietnam National Acupuncture Hospital, which for several decades has brought its know-how to Mexico.
Reporter: On the occasion of the two countries marking the 47th anniversary of Vietnam – Mexico diplomatic relations (May 19, 1975 – May 19, 2022), Chairman of Vietnam’s National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue had online talks with President of Mexico's Senate Olga Sanchez Cordero. The two leaders exchanged, agreed, and strengthened many cooperation programs to promote the deepening of the Vietnam-Mexico relationship. Would you please share how the multi-faced cooperation between Vietnam and Mexico has been effectively implemented in 2022?
Mexican Ambassador: I was fortunate to be invited to the meeting between the President of the Mexican Senate, the President of the National Assembly of Vietnam, and several other legislators on July 4, 2022. I was amazed at the depth and level of detail of the dialogue, and of the contributions to the relation from parliamentary diplomacy.
One aspect of concurrence is that there is already enough density to expand our cooperation in very specific areas, such as post-COVID-19 experiences for economic recovery; schemes to expand trade and investment; and the urgent need to sign agreements to create institutional frameworks to cooperate in areas such as agriculture; customs; and defense; among many others.
A second aspect of enormous importance, not always known, is the degree of coincidence and the permanent support that we offer each other in international fora. We talk about coincident approaches to climate change, respect for international law, and peaceful and lasting solutions to conflicts. In short, from parliamentary diplomacy a very important contribution is made to identify the specific spaces that will define the future of the relationship between Mexico and Vietnam.
Reporter: Mexico is the second biggest trade partner of Vietnam in Latin America, and Vietnam is the eighth biggest trade partner of Mexico in Asia. Would you please share what measures Vietnam and Mexico should take to further promote bilateral trade cooperation between the two countries in 2023?
Mexican Ambassador: This is a central issue and the most important objective of my mission in this great country: to further strengthen our economic relations and achieve better access for Mexican products to the Vietnamese market. I think there are two fundamental facts that are very important to know in Vietnam.
On the one hand, Mexico is by far the main buyer of Vietnamese products in Latin America. Even the most important economies in our region do not purchase from Vietnam even half of what Mexico is buying. And that is the data that must be remembered.
Second, the CPTPP has unleashed the potential of our economic relations. Only in 2022 and according to preliminary Mexican figures, we will have bought products from Vietnam for around 9 billion dollars. And here the challenge is that, just as Vietnam is selling a lot in Mexico, we have to help our businesspersons know the Vietnamese market, and we have to give them support to access specific markets. In this sense, my evaluation is very positive because we had a very important business mission in November, because we had a modest increase in Mexican exports to Vietnam, and because the Vietnamese intellectual property institute granted recognition to the denomination of origin to our Tequila.
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?
Mexican Ambassador: This is one of the spaces with the greatest potential in our relations, and I celebrate and congratulate the great effort made by the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations (VUFO), particularly their organization of the Assembly of the World Peace Council, which was attended by a Mexican delegation.
I also want to comment that, little by little, I have been discovering the enormous variety of Vietnamese civil society, which makes contributions on issues such as gender equality, climate change, and children's rights, and, on the other hand, that there is also a universe of philanthropic organizations that do very important work. I want to comment that in Mexico there are more than 40,000 non-governmental and civil society organizations, on the most diverse issues and, therefore, there is enormous potential to strengthen people-to-people diplomacy.
Reporter: What are your impressions on Vietnam’s people and development achievements in your term since you began the term of Mexican Ambassador to Vietnam?
Mexican Ambassador: During my first year in Vietnam, I have been able to discover in daily life that it is an extraordinary country, of great vitality, with the capacity to face challenges, and with a great future. Thinking quickly: the first thing is that I think the Government of Vietnam handled the COVID-19 pandemic and the population's access to vaccination very well. I even applied myself already a dose in Vietnam. Secondly, the enormous success of Vietnam in the fight against poverty; It is something in which specifically in Mexico we have a lot to learn from Vietnam. Also, the economic resilience with noteworthy growth projections. In short, I believe that Vietnam has all the capabilities to achieve its grand national goals: to be an upper-middle-income nation by 2030, and to be a developed economy by 2050.
Reporter: In 2023, as a bridge of the two countries’ friendship, what will you do to contribute to promoting bilateral relations between Vietnam and Mexico, including continuing to support Vietnam to run for election to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in the term 2023-2025 tenure, as well as at other multilateral and international forums?
Mexican Ambassador: The first thing I want to say is that the pandemic confirmed that ambassadors and embassies play a central role in relations between countries. It is true that the technological revolution, business relations, parliamentary dialogues, and the cooperation of civil society also play a very important role. But the main agent of cultural transmission, of political communication, and of detonation of economic exchanges, continues to be the ambassadors.
In 2023, both my team and myself will be focused on a group of very specific objectives: the first is to advance toward establishing a comprehensive partnership between Mexico and Vietnam, which implies a multiple effort of dialogue, to define a medium-term work plan, and the negotiation of agreements and instruments that we need to sign. Second, we need to collaborate for the successful completion of two high-level mechanisms that should be carried out in 2023: the political consultation mechanism and the joint committee for economic cooperation. Third, we need to continue working with Vietnamese and Mexican institutions to achieve better access for Mexican products to the Vietnamese market. Last but not least, working intensively for a greater cultural presence of Mexico, including an exhibition of the great Mexican artist Diego Rodarte in April, at the HCMC Museum of Fine Arts, and the dignification, restoration and relocation of a replica of a monumental head of the Olmec culture that is also located in that museum; We have also been working so that the most important and prestigious university in Mexico, UNAM, through a center it has in China, develop projects with the University of Hanoi, with the University of HCMC and with the Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences: this effort will be permanent and constant in 2023.
Reporter: Thank you so much!