Vietnamese News Update (Dec. 22): Vietnam and African Union Establish Diplomatic Relations

Foreign officials have expressed their admiration for Vietnam's strong relationship with France and UNESCO. Vietnam has also established diplomatic relations with the African Union, showing its commitment to strengthening ties with nations around the world. In addition, the Malaysian media has praised Vietnam's impressive economic growth. Lastly, petrol prices in Vietnam have been increased as of December 21.

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Vietnam News Today (Dec. 22) notable headlines

Foreign officials hail Vietnamese ties with France and UNESCO

Vietnam, African Union establish diplomatic relations

Malaysian media gives positive assessment of Vietnam’s economic growth

Petrol prices revised up on December 21

Performing arts help promote tourism

Vietnam seeks cooperation opportunities with RoK in new fields

Ba Ria-Vung Tau targets becoming a high-end destination

Infrastructure inevitable to Vietnam’s digital economy: Expert

Vietnam meets 2023 target of foreign visitors​

NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue (R) and President of the French Senate Gerard Larcher at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties. (Photo: VNA)

Foreign officials hail Vietnamese ties with France and UNESCO

Several French and international officials have applauded Vietnam’s relations with France, as well as the Southeast Asian country’s contributions to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2023.

Senator Jeremy Bacchi, member of the National Council of the French Communist Party (PCF) and secretary of the PCF organization in Bouches-du-Rhone department, noted with satisfaction that the two countries have maintained and unceasingly developed close-knit ties across the board, including in economics and culture.

A number of activities have been held throughout the year to celebrate bilateral ties, further enhancing the existing friendship and helping the French people to learn more about the culture and history of Vietnam, as well as the Vietnamese people’s optimism during the realization of set targets, he said.

Francois Corbin, vice president of the Movement of the Enterprises of France (MEDEF) International and chairman of the France – Vietnam Business Council at MEDEF, said he is impressed with the Vietnamese side’s dynamism and growth over recent years, adding that with its current level of growth, the country will continue developing over the coming years.

The nation boasts businesses which have effective operations, high demand for infrastructure development, an expanding middle class, as well as major attention given to environmental protection and the fight against climate change, he opined.

French businesses own sufficient capacity and wish to develop the level of cooperation with Vietnamese firms and leaders in order to jointly work towards a future of common prosperity, Corbin remarked.

For her part, Helene Luc, honorary senator of France and former chairwoman of the France-Vietnam Friendship Association, cited then French President Jacques Chirac as saying during his visit to Vietnam back in 2004 that the country’s voice had touched the heart of the French people. This was repeated by President of the French Senate Gerard Larcher when he visited Vietnam in 2022.

Luc said such comments serve to reflect all the sentiments the two peoples have given to each other, adding hope that this voice will become even stronger so that the joint friendship will grow even further, cited VOV.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Baker, who will serve as chief representative of UNESCO in Vietnam next year, said the country boasts a diverse culture and has won recognition from UNESCO for not only its tangible and intangible heritage, but also geo-parks or biosphere reserves.

The potential that exists in bilateral cooperation is not limited to heritage preservation, but has also covered education, science, and the environment for sustainable development. Many educational projects have been carried out fruitfully across multiple localities.

Moreover, the country is one of the most active partners of UNESCO in terms of environmental protection, especially for biodiversity conservation and water resources protection, he elaborated.

The UNESCO official expressed his hope that the Vietnamese side, which has recorded booming economic development, will move to establish itself as a bright spot in the region and the world in terms of connecting economic development with social security ensuring, cultural preservation, and environmental protection.

Baker added that he hopes among the many collaboration opportunities in the time ahead, the nation and UNESCO will join hands to successfully carry out cultural, educational, and scientific programs.

Vietnam, African Union establish diplomatic relations

Vietnam wishes to strengthen cooperation with the African Union (AU) in the fields of politics, diplomacy, economy, trade, investment and culture, and in United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa, Vietnamese Ambassador to Ethiopia Nguyen Nam Tien has said.

He made the statement while presenting his letter of credentials to chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat in Addis Ababa on December 15, marking the official establishment of Vietnam-AU diplomatic relations.

The diplomat underlined that Vietnam stands ready to make more direct and proactive contributions to the AU’s common effort for an African of integration, prosperity and peace, that is promoted by the African people themselves and represents a dynamic force on the global arena.

Ambassador Tien said he will do his utmost to lift cooperative ties between Vietnam and the AU to a new height.

The diplomat briefed the host about Vietnam’s recent achievements, saying that the country has established diplomatic ties with 189 out of 193 UN members and trade relations with more than 230 economies. It is currently the 4th largest economy in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and 37th in the world. The agricultural sector, as a driving force of the country’s economy, has contributed to ensuring national food security and creating jobs for millions of workers, thus contributing to poverty reduction and social welfare, he added.

In Africa, Vietnam has set up diplomatic ties with 54 out of 55 countries and will soon establish diplomatic relations with Malawi, according to VNA.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Ethiopia Nguyen Nam Tien (right) presents his letter of credentials to chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat. (Photo: VNA)

The chairperson of the African Union Commission spoke highly of the achievements Vietnam has obtained in national construction and development, while highlighting the country’s important role in ASEAN.

He said he believes that in the coming time, Vietnam will make greater contributions to Agenda 2063 for peace and security in Africa, contributing to strengthening all-round cooperation between Vietnam and Africa.

Ambassador Tien took this occasion to convey President Vo Van Thuong’s invitation to the chairperson of the Africa Union Commission to visit Vietnam soon.

Malaysian media gives positive assessment of Vietnam’s economic growth

Website digitalnewsasia.com of Malaysia cited research results on December 20 compiled by consulting firm Oxford Economics, authorized by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales headquartered in the UK, and gave assessment of economic dynamics in Southeast Asia, including a positive assessment of the Vietnamese economy in 2023 and a positive outlook in the medium term.

According to Oxford Economics, the nation enjoyed outstanding export growth in the region this year.

In line with this, the country’s GDP growth in the third quarter of the year stood at 5.3% over the same period from 2022, up from 4.1% in the second quarter of the year.

This is largely due to a strong recovery occurring in the manufacturing sector due to increased export value amid improved electronics exports, especially exports to China.

According to Oxford Economics’ experts, thanks to the Government increasing public investment in the third quarter of the year, the country still has ample room to boost investment spending ahead in the next quarter.

Regarding the Southeast Asian region’s economy, Oxford Economics sees economic momentum in the third quarter of the year on the rise, but there are still concerns about potential challenges moving into 2024.

Factors influencing the 2024 forecast include slowing global growth, while tourist attractions lose their appeal and private consumption declines, cited VOV.

Photo: VOV

Southeast Asia recorded strong economic momentum in the third quarter of the year with improved trade and accelerated GDP growth beyond expectations.

Oxford Economics’ report also said that exports in Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam increased in the second and third quarters of the year, in which Singapore and Vietnam faced notable changes as both markets had a strong position in e-commerce.

However, Southeast Asia’s exports will still be affected by the prolonged global recession, especially in the US and Chinese economies. Although a recession may be avoided, the US is anticipated to face a period of weak growth in the near future.

Other developed economies are also expected to slow down due to tightening monetary policies, while China’s spending remains low due to facing domestic difficulties.

Even the once promising tourism industry is losing its appeal as most other Asian economies endured slow recovery in terms of tourist arrivals.

Meanwhile, personal consumption is at a moderate level due to a number of factors. The previous tightening of monetary policy is also starting to impact spending capacity amid higher debt service costs.

This period is even more difficult due to fiscal tightening policies as the 2024 budget is forecast to decrease, along with rising oil prices coupled with the risk of rising food prices.

Although inflation may continue to fall in the near future, analysts predict that from now until the second quarter of 2024, banks will not lower interest rates.

Petrol prices revised up on December 21

Retail prices of petrol were revised up in the latest adjustment on December 21 by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance.

The prices of RON 95-III and E5 RON92 increased by VND740 and VND687 to VND22,145 (US$0.9) and VND21,199 per liter, respectively.

Meanwhile, the prices of diesel, kerosene and mazut went up to VND19,524, VND20,494 per liter and VND15,265 per kg, respectively, VNA reported.

Illustrative image (Source: VNA)

The two ministries decided not to use the petrol and oil price stabilization fund.

Since the beginning of this year, petrol prices have undergone 36 adjustments, with 19 up, 14 down, and four unchanged.

Performing arts help promote tourism

Experts from UNESCO believe that the performing arts help improve people-to-people exchanges and promote tourism in Hanoi.

The Hanoi Water Puppet Show has left an unforgettable memory for Professor Israfil Shaheen of Dhaka University’s Department of Theatre and Performance Studies.

Shaheen, who was a member of the international delegation that attended the first World Performing Arts Festival held in Phan Thiet City in Vietnam’s central province of Binh Thuan from December 8 to 10, will provide input to Hanoi’s arts authorities on how to leverage performing arts for tourism development after enjoying some of the capital’s art programs.

Based on the festival’s success, Shaheen and foreign experts gathered in Hanoi to help the capital city turn performing arts into a tourism product after exploring scenic spots and enjoying stage performances.

They visited St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple, and a 300-year-old banyan tree and watched a water puppet and Legend of Youth performances at the Vietnam Women’s Museum.

Alvaro A. Franco R, an actor and producer from Colombia, said: “The feeling I got is the rich cultural and artistic life in Vietnam, and spaces and events like this festival are opportunities to show a brief picture of the whole culture.”

Director Le Quy Duong was the first to lay the foundation for building unique festival brands in Vietnam, promoting the tourism industry and selectively introducing Vietnam’s cultural and artistic heritage to the world, cited Hanoitimes.

Photo: VNN

“Previously, when people talked about where to watch performing arts, they thought of Europe, America, Japan, and South Korea. But through the festivals, Vietnam will become a destination for the world’s performing arts,” Duong said.

He also stressed that the festivals mean a space for all cultures and performing arts to create new works of art and cultural values.

Through the meetings in Binh Thuan and Hanoi, he expected that foreign and local experts would have a chance to exchange, understand each other, and find ways to cooperate in new art productions.

Professor Israfil Shaheen of Bangladesh was particularly pleased with the puppet show, saying it represented rural Vietnam, which is very similar to Bangladesh.

“The artists manipulated the puppets very spontaneously and skillfully. The presentation style was very simple but very creative and funny. It’s a very good sense of fun,” he said.

Israfil Shaheen noted that Vietnamese traditional performing arts are very simple and imaginative, with a lot of energy, rhythm, music, dance movements, choreography, and colorful costumes.

“They should bring performing arts from remote villages to cities, especially tourist spots. The government and other stakeholders should encourage artists to promote performing arts in tourism activities,” he said.

German educator Christine Schmalor emphasized the role of education. Noting that the Hanoi government has introduced theater arts in schools, she suggests that performing arts should be included in the school curriculum so that students can practice, not just watch.

According to her, arts education from an early age not only helps train a generation of potential artists but also shapes the tastes and awareness of future performing arts audiences.

The World Performing Arts Festival was initiated by director Le Quy Duong, who is also president of the Festival and Collaborative Theatre Committee (FACT) of the UNESCO International Theatre Institute (ITI).

According to World Theater Ambassador Lemi Ponifasio, the arts always ask who we are and where we are going as communities, societies, cultures, nations, and creatures belonging to a tense and fragile world full of necessarily diverse beings and life forms. He said this festival is a commitment that initiates and sustains meaningful dialogues and friendships.

In his view, the festival is a reminder to make space to listen to one another. It is a powerful tool for bringing insights from the past and present to the task of imagining a more caring and understanding world.

Prof. Tobias Biancone, Director General of ITI, said that the World Performing Arts Festival opens borders and brings shows from other countries to Vietnam and allows more Vietnamese productions to be sent abroad.

ITI highly appreciated the success of the festival and considered it a typical model in bringing performing arts to indigenous communities around the planet, as well as providing a professional and open creative space for artists to discuss, learn, and share professional knowledge and practical experience, to generate new creative values and narrow the cultural gap among continents, regions, and countries, for a world of peace, mutual support, solidarity, and prosperity.

Rosie Nguyen