Thailand, Vietnam urged to be more proactive in face of new int’l challenges
The cooperation in international issues has made the two countries leading trade partners in ASEAN and those sharing common goals in the Greater Mekong Subregion.
Thailand and Vietnam should look toward taking on a more proactive role in shaping the new and emerging international system, Thai Ambassador to Vietnam Nikorndej Balankura shared the view in talks with The Hanoi Times.
|Thai Ambassador to Vietnam Nikorndej Balankura. Photos: VNA|
The view reflects the two countries’ aspirations for further cooperation as they enter into the 10th year of their Strategic Partnership in 2023.
“Through coalition-building and agenda-setting, Thailand and Vietnam can increase our countries’ leverage and strategic position, as well as that of sub-regional and regional groupings like ACMECS, ASEAN, and APEC,” Ambassador Balankura said.
Most recently, Thailand hosted the 2022 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in Bangkok on November 14-19, 2022, an event that demonstrated even closer cooperation between Thailand and Vietnam with the visit paid by the Vietnamese State President.
The Vietnamese side supported Thailand in the Chair to achieve consensus on the APEC Leaders’ Declaration, the APEC Ministerial Joint Statement, and the Bangkok Goals on Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy.
The bilateral outcomes of the visit ranged from the Plan of Action for Thailand – Vietnam Strengthened Strategic Partnership for 2022 – 2027, the establishment of twinning city relations between Thai and Vietnamese provinces, to Memorandums of Understanding between their financial institutions and between their Chambers of Commerce.
Ambassador Balankura said this is indicative of the strength of cooperation and potential for prosperity between Thailand and Vietnam when they join hands and work together. Such substantive and positive deliverables highlight the multi-layered friendship that Thailand and Vietnam enjoy and will continue to build on.
“Together, we shall work to ensure a more prosperous and sustainable future for our countries and peoples, as well as contribute strategically to the geopolitical balance at the regional level and on the global stage,” he emphasized.
|Thai Ambassador to Vietnam Nikorndej Balankura (L) meets Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in Hanoi in March 2022.|
Specific moves for tightened relations
Given robust relations over the years, Thailand has conducted different programs to strengthen bilateral relations.
The latest move is the opening of the Thai Room in Vietnam. It’s the cooperation between the Royal Thai Embassy, the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam (ThaiCham), and the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV) to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Thailand and Vietnam diplomatic relations.
The project aims to promote long-term cooperation in education and human resources development which are the foundation for the two countries’ socio-economic development. The Thai-themed decoration of the room also aims to promote a better understanding and awareness among the new generation in cultural aspects.
Notably, there is also a painting that portrays the signing ceremony of the Bangkok declaration. This highlights Thai determination to advocate the importance of ASEAN as a pillar of Thailand’s foreign policy. During the opening ceremony of the room, there was much interest expressed by several ASEAN ambassadors to establish cooperation with DAV under such a model.
Accordingly, the embassy is working closely with DAV and ThaiCham in organizing lectures and seminars on issues of mutual interest from political, economic, and cultural cooperation and the potential of Thailand and Vietnam. This includes issues of sub-regional and regional cooperation mechanisms such as the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
The first event is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2023.
The embassy also plans to connect the DAV with leading educational institutions in Thailand to promote bilateral cooperation in an educational and professional exchange. The Royal Thai Embassy will also work on developing the first "Thai studies" curriculum at DAV.
For better ASEAN
As a founding member, Thailand has always been an active advocate for regional peace and prosperity, Ambassador Balankura said, noting that ASEAN has been and will continue to be a cornerstone of Thailand’s foreign policy.
For that reason, Thailand attaches great importance to enhancing cooperation within ASEAN frameworks to build trust and confidence among ASEAN Member States, dialogue partners, and all friends.
Over 55 years of vigorous cooperation among members, ASEAN achieved countless accomplishments that promote the stability of the region. The peace and stability that the Southeast Asian countries have been enjoying today are due in no small measure to ASEAN’s role as a forum that promotes and fosters trust and confidence among its Member States.
Following the establishment of ASEAN under the Bangkok declaration in 1967 in Thailand, in recent history since the early 2000s, Thailand played a proactive role in ASEAN for the materialization of the ASEAN Charter that serves as a firm foundation in achieving the ASEAN Community in the following years. This is the first ASEAN document ensuring ASEAN’s fundamental principles; conferring legal personality and creating a governance structure for the grouping.
Additionally, Thailand places great importance on the establishment of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as a comprehensive and high-standard FTA. “It was a complicated and extended process, but with Vietnam’s active support, we are able to achieve one of the most comprehensive FTAs in the world,” said the ambassador.
With efforts of both countries in building the ASEAN Community, Vietnam and Thailand “achieved outstanding success in cooperation over 46 years of the diplomatic relations,” he stated.
Today, Vietnam is Thailand’s biggest investment destination. Thailand is investing in nearly 700 projects worth $13 billion in Vietnam, being the country’s 8th biggest investor.
Meanwhile, Thailand is Vietnam’s biggest trading partner in ASEAN with two-day trade of US$19 billion in 2021.
On this note, during the Vietnamese President’s official visit to Thailand on November 16, 2022, the two leaders reiterated their commitment to increase bilateral trade to US$25-30 billion by 2025.
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