Press release on the upcoming official visit to Russia by Foreign Minister of Vietnam Bui Thanh Son
On September 25-28, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Bui Thanh Son will be in Russia on an official visit.
His agenda includes talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko and several other events.
The upcoming visit is aimed at promoting cooperation between the two countries’ foreign ministries, reviewing their positions on current global and regional issues of mutual interest, and strengthening coordination on the international stage. Boosting Russian-Vietnamese cooperation in trade, investment, scientific, technical and humanitarian spheres will be in the focus of attention.
Diplomatic relations with Vietnam were established in 1950. In 2001, they reached the level of strategic partnership and in 2012 attained the status of comprehensive strategic partnership, the strengthening of which is one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities in the Asia Pacific Region. This meets the interests of the two nations and the goal of promoting peace, stability and sustainable development in the region.
Russia and Vietnam’s regular political dialogue at the highest and high levels is aimed at boosting the entire range of bilateral relations. Their leadership maintained close contacts amid the complicated conditions of the coronavirus pandemic. This year alone, President of Russia Vladimir Putin had telephone conversations with General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Nguyen Phu Trong (April) and President of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc (September). Nguyen Phu Trong also spoke by telephone with Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia Dmitry Medvedev (February). Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia Valentina Matviyenko had a telephone conversation with Chairman of the National Assembly of Vietnam Vuong Dinh Hue (June), while Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talked with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam Bui Thanh Son (April).
A high-level Vietnamese delegation led by Standing Member of the CPV Central Committee’s Secretariat Vo Van Thuong attended a roundtable conference on The Role of Russia and ASEAN’s Responsible Political Forces in Strengthening the Architecture of Security and Cooperation in Asia-Pacific, organised by the United Russia political party in June.
A major step towards relaunching a direct dialogue between our countries’ leadership was a visit by Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolai Patrushev to Vietnam in March 2021.
The foreign ministries of Russia and Vietnam maintain close ties based on two-year cooperation plans, including the current plan for 2021-2022.
A number of important events to promote cooperation in various spheres were held in 2019-2021 during the Year of Russia in Vietnam and the Year of Vietnam in Russia.
A major element of bilateral relations is trade and economic cooperation, which has been developing dynamically over the past few years, largely thanks to the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Vietnam, which came into effect on October 5, 2016. Bilateral trade reached $5.67 billion in 2020 (up 15.2 percent), when Russian exports to Vietnam increased by 42.9 percent to $1.62 billion and imports from Vietnam went up 6.9 percent to $4.05 billion. Between January and July 2021, bilateral trade was $3.6 billion (up 23.9 percent), with Russian exports to Vietnam up by 13.3 percent to $923.7 million and imports from Vietnam up by 28.1 percent to $2.67 billion.
Russia’s main exports to Vietnam are mineral fuel, ferrous metals, agricultural products and food (grain, meat, fish and ready meals), fertilisers, plastic and timber products, and imports include electronic goods and mobile phones, textiles and footwear, food and agricultural products.
The Russian-Vietnamese Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Chernyshenko and Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh, has been effectively fulfilling its coordinating role. The commission held its 22nd meeting in October 2019, in Hanoi. The 2020 meeting did not take place because of the pandemic, although the co-chairs held a meeting via videoconference in November. Russia and Vietnam are exploring opportunities for organising the 23rd meeting before the end of 2021 in Moscow.
The Russian-Vietnamese strategic partnership hinges on the fuel and energy sector. Established in 1981, and with Zarubezhneft and Vietnam Oil and Gas Group Petrovietnam as its members, joint enterprise Vietsovpetro is this sector’s flagship. Since its fields became operational in 1986, Vietsovpetro has produced almost 240 million tonnes of oil and 34.2 billion cubic metres of natural gas. In 2010, the two sides signed an intergovernmental agreement on extending the company’s operations until 2030.
Joint Company Rusvietpetro has been producing hydrocarbons in Russia’s Nenets Autonomous Area since 2008, and has extracted some 30 million tonnes of oil since that time.
Gazprom also has operations on Vietnam’s continental shelf, partly through VietGazprom joint operating company. Part of an international consortium, Novatek and Zarubezhneft are looking into joining the project to build an LNG terminal and a gas-powered power station in the south of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Established in November 2006, the Vietnamese-Russian Joint Bank with its headquarters in Hanoi and subsidiaries all over the country has been stable and effective. The possibility of using national currencies for trade transactions is viewed as a promising area in its work. Since the end of 2019, holders of Russia’s MIR bank cards can use them on Vietnamese territory.
Several Russian regions and Vietnamese cities and provinces have demonstrated mutual interest in establishing and promoting cooperation in various areas, including trade, investment and humanitarian ties. From the Russian side, these include Moscow, St Petersburg, the Primorye Territory, the Nenets Autonomous Area, the Republic of Bashkortostan and the Republic of Tatarstan, as well as the Kaluga, Kursk, Moscow and Yaroslavl regions. The construction of the dairy complexes in the Moscow and Kaluga regions, and in the Primorye Territory are the biggest projects to benefit from Vietnamese investment.
Arrangements are underway to assemble Russian vehicles (KAMAZ and GAZ) in Vietnam under the intergovernmental agreement to support the production of motor vehicles in Vietnam dated March 21, 2016.
The parties focus particularly on military and military-technical cooperation, as well as interaction in security matters, in strict compliance with international law and the respective national legislation of the two countries.
In line with the spirit of traditional friendship and comprehensive strategic partnership, Russia and Vietnam are cooperating in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus infection. In 2021, Russian agencies and companies donated about 15,000 Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine doses to their Vietnamese partners. RDIF is negotiating with the duly authorised Vietnamese institutions the supply of 60 million doses of this vaccine, as well as the single-component Sputnik Light vaccine, once it is registered in Vietnam. The possibility of both vaccines being produced by Vietnamese companies is being discussed as well.
Early on during the coronavirus pandemic, Russia sent kits for 7,000 tests to Vietnam, and 500 kits more (for 50,000 tests) in November 2020. A mobile lab mounted on a KAMAZ truck was sent to Vietnam in 2019 and is widely used for diagnosing coronavirus in remote Vietnamese regions. On June 19, 2020, the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi received a batch of Cycloferon produced by Russia’s Polysan. In September, the St Petersburg’s Committee for External Relations sent a batch of Cytoflavin to the Ho Chi Minh’s People's Committee; this was valued at over $100,000 (covers 2,500-3,000 patients) which is also produced by Polysan.
The Joint Russian-Vietnamese Tropical Research and Technology Centre (established in March 1988) is unparalleled in terms of bilateral research and technical cooperation. The results of its applied and fundamental scientific research, including in medicine, environmental studies and materials science, are highly valued beyond Russia and Vietnam.
Education and professional training are an important part of Russian-Vietnamese relations. Tens of thousands of Vietnamese specialists have been trained in our country over several decades. Many of them still hold high government and military positions and are prominent figures in the science, culture, art, and public life of that country.
About 6,000 Vietnamese students are pursuing their studies in Russia, of whom 2,000 receive annually allocated state scholarships. In the 2021/2022 academic year, tuition for 1,000 Vietnamese students studying at Russian universities is being covered by the federal budget.
For many years now, the Russian Centre of Science and Culture (RCSC) has been operational in Hanoi. Its main goal is to promote humanitarian exchanges between our countries.
The RCSC and the Hanoi branch of the Pushkin Russian Language Institute have been promoting the study of the Russian language in Vietnam. The Russian centres created by the Russkiy Mir Foundation, as well as Russian language classes in the Vietnamese capital and in Da Nang, have been operating in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City since 2010.
The Russian Ministry of Education is implementing a programme under which Russian teachers teach the Russian language at Vietnamese secondary schools.
Currently, about 5,000 Vietnamese are studying Russian at public schools. In 2021, after a long break, Russian was again included in the school curriculum as a first foreign language (along with English, Chinese, French and Japanese).
The Russian-Vietnamese Friendship Society and the Vietnamese-Russian Friendship Society are very instrumental in promoting people-to-people exchanges in the spirit of respect for commemorative events in the history of the two countries.
Prior to the pandemic, Vietnam was a popular holiday destination for Russian tourists, and Russia was gaining traction among Vietnamese tourists as well (in 2019, the tourism numbers were 572,000 and 59,000, respectively). In April 2016, a tourist office named Visit Russia opened in Hanoi. It represents Rostourism in Vietnam and several other countries in Southeast Asia. That said, the tourist flows between the two countries may resume quickly once the pandemic recedes.