Vietnam, Brunei Strongly Boost Comprehensive Partnership

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s official visit to Brunei from February 10-11 is expected to open up more cooperation opportunities between the two countries.

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Vietnam, Brunei Strongly Boost Comprehensive Partnership
Vietnamese Ambassador to Brunei Tran Van Khoa. Photo: VNA

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s coming official visit to Brunei will create a strong impulse for further intensifying the two countries’ comprehensive partnership, said Vietnamese Ambassador to Brunei Tran Van Khoa.

Talking to the VNA, Khoa said the visit on February 10 – 11 holds great significance as it is the first trip to Brunei by a PM of Vietnam in nearly 16 years and takes place amid growing bilateral relations, following the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties in 2022.

The visit is a move to implement Vietnam’s foreign policy and shows the importance Vietnam attaches to its ties with Brunei as well as other ASEAN members.

During the trip, PM Chinh will have a meeting with Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah to set up orientations for promoting bilateral cooperation in all aspects, thereby helping to effectively implement the comprehensive partnership, the ambassador noted.

For the last more than 30 years, Vietnam and Brunei have witnessed important strides in their relations in all fields, from politics, economy, and trade to culture and people-to-people exchange, Khoa noted.

Since bilateral ties were officially established in 1992 and elevated to a comprehensive partnership in 2019, they have become increasingly close-knit, enhanced political trust and cooperation, and maintained mutual support at multilateral forums.

Bilateral trade has been on the rise after the Covid-19 pandemic, surpassing the target of USD 500 million ahead of schedule for 2025, he went on, adding that the countries launched the negotiations on agreements on security and anti-transnational crime cooperation in 2019.

The diplomat also highlighted collaboration in education, culture, and people-to-people exchange.

The two sides inked an MoU on education cooperation in April 2014 and another on tourism collaboration in November 2011. They offer visa waivers to their citizens holding ordinary passports for travel and are negotiating to extend the visa exemption period for ordinary, diplomatic, and official passport holders.

As of November 2022, there were close to 300 Vietnamese living in Brunei, including students pursuing doctorate education at the University of Brunei Darussalam and over 200 workings there.

In the recent past, Vietnam – Brunei relations have been thriving in a substantive manner. They have continuously coordinated and supported each other at multilateral forums and international and regional organizations such as the ASEAN – EU cooperation framework, Asia – Europe Meeting (ASEM), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the United Nations. They have also been working together to promote ASEAN’s centrality.

Vietnam, Brunei Strongly Boost Comprehensive Partnership
Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, second Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brunei Dato Erywan and Vietnamese Ambassador to Brunei Tran Van Khoa along with his spouse. Photo: VNA

In the coming time, he suggested, the two sides should carry out the outcomes to be obtained during the PM’s coming visit; keep fostering the comprehensive partnership, especially tapping into every economic cooperation potential; and continue contributing to the solidarity of ASEAN for the sake of regional and global peace, stability, and development.

Meanwhile, Le Hoang Oanh, head of the Asia-Africa Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoT), said with 16 free trade agreements (FTAs), including new-generation ones like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Vietnam will boost its exports to markets in the region and Brunei in particular.

She noted that agricultural and aquatic exports to Brunei need to satisfy Halal standards, viewing the country as a promising market for Vietnamese consumer goods, farm produces, and food.

Meanwhile, Vietnam has advantages in coffee, rice, processed products, seafood, spices, and vegetables, and the country can participate deeper in the Halal food supply chain in Southeast Asia and Brunei as well, the official said.

Statistics show that bilateral trade value was USD 725.7 million last year, up 147.6% over a year earlier, of which Vietnam’s exports reached USD 92.3 million, a year-on-year rise of 163.8%.

As of December 2022, Brunei ranked 26th among the 141 countries and territories investing in Vietnam with 157 valid projects worth USD 971 million, mainly in processing, manufacturing, construction, and real estate.

The two countries have cooperated fruitfully in oil and gas, with the Petrovietnam Drilling and Well Service Corporation (PV Drilling) having officially established its branch in Brunei.

They also signed a MoU on cooperation in agriculture and fishery between the two governments in May 2013 and launched a pilot project on rice cultivation in Brunei from September to December 2013.

In particular, annual meetings of the joint working group in the field of fishery between the two countries were held in Brunei in 2014, Ho Chi Minh City in 2015, and Brunei in 2017.

Vietnam, Brunei Strongly Boost Comprehensive Partnership
The Vietnamese Embassy in Brunei held a get-together to celebrate the National Day and the 30th anniversary of their bilateral diplomatic relations with the participation of Vietnamese living and working in Brunei and international guests in 2022.

At a meeting on the sidelines of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) last year, MoIT Minister Nguyen Hong Dien and Singaporean Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong, and Second Minister of Finance and Economy of Brunei Dato Amin Liew focused their discussion on the initiative on enhancing cooperation on clean energy and agreed to accelerate the formation of the initiative so that it can be launched early this year.

Experts said the two countries will step up cooperation in such areas as agro-forestry-fishery, Halal food, and infrastructure construction.

Oanh suggested that Vietnamese firms actively access the Brunei market and partners and implement their own business and marketing strategies.

Hannah Nguyen