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Nov 23, 2021 / 20:02

Economic cooperation - the key pillar for Vietnam-Japan relationship

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh pledges to improve the investment environment for Japanese investors after months-long restriction measures against Covid-19 are lifted.

Economic cooperation will be one of the key pillars in Vietnam-Japan relations in the post-pandemic era, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said during his ongoing visit to the Northeast Asian country.

 Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh speaks at the investment conference in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan on Nov 23. Photos: VGP

Enhancing economic ties would open a new development period for both, Chinh told Japanese media ahead of the visit, which started on November 22.

For that reason, both countries will facilitate the penetration of each other’s products and recover production. At the same time, Vietnam calls for further Japan’s official development assistance (ODA) to the country, with a focus on infrastructure, health, manpower, digital transformation, and climate adaptation.

The next focal point will be the health sector with the transfer of Covid vaccine and drugs; joint efforts in increasing pharmaceuticals supply and enhancing medical capacity for leading hospitals in Vietnam like Cho Ray, Bach Mai, and Military Hospital 108.

Chinh expressed hopes for even stronger cooperation between the two countries after referring to Japan’s provision of over four million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Vietnam.

Education, manpower training, as well as people-to-people links will be other fields of cooperation.

In addition, culture and tourism will play an important role in pursuing recovery plans and bringing the two nations closer with more activities to be organized for both sides to boost mutual understanding.

Security and defense ties will be covered by agreements on technology transfer in the defense industry with specific activities in patrol, overcoming wartime legacies, search and rescue.

Finally, discussing international issues of mutual concerns will be included in the cooperation agenda together with preparations for the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations in 2023.

 Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and Tochigi Prefecture's Governor Tomikazu Fukuda   

Reliable destination

Concerning restrictions, Chinh said Vietnam has taken tough measures over the past months to protect people the first and foremost amid the low vaccination rate. Now when the pandemic was brought under control, Vietnam will switch to living safely with Covid-19 to put businesses at the center in its recovery plans.

He emphasized that the restriction measures had largely hindered the operations of factories, saying, “I would like to hear the opinions of foreign-affiliated companies, including those from Japan, and make every effort to improve the business environment.”

The top priority will be given to administrative reforms to facilitate the investment. Therefore, barriers will be soon tackled to ensure smooth operations in the new normal. At the same time, authorities will make preferential policies and conduct supporting measures, including cutting immigration procedures and resuming international flights.

To serve the development in the long run, Vietnam encourages foreign investment, including those from Japan, in infrastructure, digital transformation, green growth, and climate adaptation under the public-private partnership (PPP) mechanism. 

To make the goals achievable, Vietnam will gear special focus on improving skilled manpower, Chinh added.

Speaking at the meeting with authorities and businesses in Tochigi Prefecture on November 23, the Vietnamese PM said businesses of both Vietnam and Japan are given opportunities to better cooperate thanks to the support of both sides.

Talking about the relationship with Japan, he said, “We have a credible friendship in many fields and are at the best stage.” “The relationship between the two countries is better than ever, and I look forward to further development.”

 Cooperation agreement between Vietnam's Vinh Phuc and Japan's Tochigi.  

Larger room for cooperation

Regarding economic ties, both representatives of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) said the path ahead remains open to both countries in terms of economics.

Chief Representative of JICA Vietnam Office Shimizu Akira said the agency will focus on urban transport, energy, infrastructure, agriculture, maritime security, digital transformation, and development projects in the Mekong Delta.

“JICA will continue to contribute to the development of Vietnam through projects on the exchange of human resources and knowledge, thereby strengthening the partnership between Vietnam and Japan,” said Shimizu Akira.

Supporting Vietnam since 1992, JICA has provided JPY3 trillion (US$26 billion), sending 15,000 Japanese experts to work in the Southeast Asian country and train around 27,000 domestic laborers for Vietnam’s development programs.

Its capital has helped build 3,000 km of expressway, 250 bridges, five international ports, and 10 power plants with a capacity of 4,500 megawatts (MW), enabling Vietnam to connect its regions and with other ASEAN countries.

Its cooperation has also covered the health sector, which started in 1975 by training about 100,000 health workers in the universal health coverage (UHC) program. Its support was intensified during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Japanese investment into Vietnam reached nearly $63 billion in 4,700 projects while the two-way trade hit $40 billion in 2020, according to JETRO’s Chief Representative Nakajima Takeo.

He said the economic ties remain potential despite Covid-19, presenting good sentiment towards the Vietnamese market. In 2021 alone, only two projects in Vietnam’s Can Tho and Vinh Phuc were worth $1.9 billion. 

 PM Chinh and Vietnamese nationals in Tochigi.