Vietnam and UAE to Increase Cooperation in a More Practical Way

Vietnam seeks to deepen its partnership with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a multitude of areas, as there is great potential for collaboration.

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The Vietnamese Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Nguyen Manh Tuan, has expressed his conviction that the collaboration between the two nations will enter a new period of expansion and become more practical and efficient in all areas.

He made the statement in a recent interview given to the Vietnam News Agency prior to Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan’s participation in the 2023 Global Summit of Women and various bilateral activities in the United Arab Emirates, together with an official visit to Qatar from May 3-8.

Vietnamese Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Nguyen Manh Tuan (in middle). Photo: Phuong Uyen
Vietnamese Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Nguyen Manh Tuan (in middle). Photo: Phuong Uyen

Tuan declared that, over the past three decades, the bilateral friendship and cooperation between both nations have been flourishing in a multitude of areas, such as politics, diplomacy, trade, investment, labour, and tourism. In addition, the political trust and mutual understanding between the two countries have been continually reinforced.

Economic partnership has always been a crucial and shining element of collaboration between countries. The UAE is the largest trading partner of Vietnam in the Middle East and North Africa, while Vietnam is the top partner amongst its ASEAN counterparts.

The UAE has become the seventh largest importer of Vietnamese goods. In 2022, Vietnam saw an impressive 27.5-fold increase in exports to the UAE compared to 2006, resulting in a trade surplus of USD 3.27 billion, according to statistics.

He noted the special significance of 2023 in the bilateral relations between the two countries, as it marks the 30th anniversary of their diplomatic ties as well as the commencement of negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

The Ambassador described the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CEPA) as an important milestone in the bilateral cooperation between Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The CEPA will usher in a new phase of strategic collaboration in various fields, provide a robust foundation for the rapidly-growing Vietnam-UAE ties, and open up opportunities for Vietnam’s exports of goods and services to the UAE and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Additionally, the CEPA will facilitate UAE’s investments in Vietnam, and help unlock the potential for cooperation in innovation, renewable energy, logistics, technology, tourism, and agriculture.

Abdulla Ali Alhameli - Charge d’Affaires a.i of the UAE Embassy in Vietnam (first from left) shares at the conference.
Abdulla Ali Alhameli, Charge d’Affaires a.i of the UAE Embassy in Vietnam (first from left) shares at the tourism promotion conference in Hanoi. Photo: VNT

The Vietnamese and UAE communities in each other’s countries are playing an important role as a bridge of friendship between the two sides, according to the UAE ambassador. Around 3,500 Vietnamese individuals are legally employed in the UAE, mainly in the construction, mechanics, shipbuilding, and service sectors.

In the interview, Tuan emphasized the substantial opportunities for trade and investment collaborations, particularly after the launch of negotiations for the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This agreement will act as a legal basis for boosting bilateral trade and investment.

Cooperation in the energy sector is a promising area of collaboration as the UAE is highly skilled in new energy, renewable energy, and oil and gas exploration and exploitation. Additionally, collaboration in agriculture is a priority as Vietnam has an abundance of expertise in this field, which can help the UAE ensure food security.

The diplomat also underscored the cooperation potential between the UAE and Vietnam in terms of infrastructure and logistics, which are in line with the UAE’s strengths and Vietnam’s requirements. In addition, the two countries have complementary advantages when it comes to the tourism sector.

The two sides sign a Ministerial Declaration on starting negotiations on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA)  at the meeting. Source: moit.gov.vn
Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien and Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi of the UAE sign a Ministerial Declaration on starting negotiations on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement between the two nations. Source: moit.gov.vn

Discussing the prospects and obstacles for Vietnamese exports, Tuan stated that the UAE President declared five priorities earlier in the year, one of which was to broaden international economic ties, thus providing numerous opportunities for Vietnamese products to enter this market.

However, there are also certain challenges, he noted, elaborating that Vietnamese goods will face fierce competition with those from the countries already signed onto CEPAs with the UAE. Additionally, logistics expenses are higher than those of other countries due to the geographical distance and high transportation prices. Furthermore, most food and beverage products of Vietnam haven’t yet earned Halal certificates, and exporters have yet to grasp the demand and behavior of Muslim consumers or the business practices in the UAE.

The esteemed Ambassador expressed his conviction that, with the mutual trust, agreement, and endeavors of both sides, and their potential and complementing strengths, the Vietnam-UAE cooperation will enter a new period of development and become more practical and efficacious across all areas.

Last month, the Minister of Industry and Trade of Vietnam, Nguyen Hong Dien, and the Minister of State for Foreign Trade of the United Arab Emirates, Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, signed a Ministerial Declaration to initiate negotiations for a Comprehensive and Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two nations, following the completion of Vietnam’s necessary protocols. Last month, Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien and Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi of UAE have signed a Ministerial Declaration on starting negotiations on a CEPA between the two nations right after Vietnam completed its procedures.

During the meeting, the Vietnamese official said the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) can bring numerous benefits to both nations, given that Vietnam has become a manufacturing hub for many important commodities in the region and the world, while the UAE boasts many strengths as a transshipment port and financial and logistics centre.

The combination of strengths of the two sides will create a momentum for growth in their trade and investment ties in the coming time, he said.

The UAE has been actively researching, negotiating, and signing numerous Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with key partners such as Vietnam, according to His Excellency Sultan bin Saeed Al Mazrouei. He expressed his hope that the two countries can successfully sign an FTA in the near future.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is looking to establish partnerships with Vietnam in a number of areas, according to Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail Al Mazrouei. He noted that potential areas of collaboration include power transmission, power generation, food security, healthcare, infrastructure, construction, and port management. Al Mazrouei stated that the UAE is eager to build strong relationships with Vietnam in these areas and to work together to advance the mutual interests of both countries.

Hannah Nguyen