By Binsal Abdulkader
ABU DHABI, 1st September, 2023 (WAM) -- Vietnam and the UAE are expected to conclude the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) this year, which will add new vigour to the 30th anniversary celebrations of diplomatic relations between the two countries, a top Vietnamese diplomat told the Emirates News Agency (WAM).
"During the past 30 years, the friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and the UAE have been actively developing in all areas, especially politics, diplomacy, trade, investment, labour and travel. Viet Nam and the UAE are accelerating the negotiation of CEPA, which shall give great impetus to two-way trade between the two countries," said Nguyen Manh Tuan, the Vietnamese Ambassador to the UAE.
In an exclusive interview with WAM at the Vietnamese Embassy in the capital, he said Viet Nam and the UAE are accelerating the negotiation process to sign the "crucial" CEPA within this year.
Manh Tuan said increased interactions between top officials of both countries have further strengthened the bilateral relations. It all began with the 2007 Vietnam visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The latest in that series were Vietnamese Vice President Thi Anh Xuan's visit to the UAE and Vietnam visit of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, this year, the ambassador pointed out.
Another milestone was a series of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for cooperation signed between both countries in almost all major sectors, he said.
Economic ties in upswing
The bilateral economic cooperation has witnessed tremendous growth since 1993 with constant official and business-to-business interactions between both sides to boost trade and investment, Manh Tuan noted.
Regarding investments, he expressed hope that as both Viet Nam and the UAE have committed to achieving Net Zero by 2050, renewable and clean energy such as solar power, wind power and hydrogen would be the keys to unlock investment potential of the two countries.
About the Vietnamese businesses in the UAE, the envoy said most of them deal with logistics, fruits and vegetable, foodstuff and non-food items. Vietnam Oil and Petroleum Corporation (PTSC- PetroVietnam), and Financing and Promoting Technology Corporation (FPT) have set up their offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. "We are expecting more of them to come as soon as the CEPA negotiation is moving forward."
As WAM reported in April 2023, Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said, "The UAE is Vietnam's number one Arab trade partner, accounting for 39 percent of its total trade with the Arab countries. The volume of non-oil trade between the two sides reached AED29.4 billion (around US$8 billion) in 2022. The trade in goods other than mobile phones and their accessories, which grew to 46 percent from less than 36 percent in 2019, is promising. It totalled AED 13.5 billion (over US$3.5 billion) last year, up 9 percent from 2021, and with a 34 and 26 percent growth from 2020 and 2019 respectively."
ASEAN ties as impetus
The UAE's increased cooperation with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in which Vietnam is a member, acts as an impetus to relations between the two countries, the ambassador stressed.
The UAE has obtained Sectoral Dialogue Partner (SDP) status in the ASEAN in 2022. The UAE as regional trade hub and the ASEAN as an emerging trade bloc of Asia create a great potential for relations between both parties, he emphasised. Vietnam is the UAE's largest trade partner in the ASEAN as of 2022.
The increased interactions through trade, aviation and tourism have helped Vietnamese and Emiratis know each other well, Manh Tuan pointed out.
The UAE's tourist attractions, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are drawing thousands of Vietnamese tourists every year, he said. With more halal restaurants and other attractions for Arabs in Vietnam, the tourist traffic from the UAE is expected to increase in the coming days, the envoy added.
About 3,500 Vietnamese people are working in the UAE, mainly in construction, mechanical works, shipbuilding, and service industries. The Liaison Board of Overseas Vietnamese People, under the umbrella of the Vietnamese Embassy, is working for the community's welfare, he noted.
Cooperation at COP28
Viet Nam and the UAE have good cooperation in multilateral fora, especially the United Nations, Manh Tuan said.
COP28, the UAE-hosted UN Climate Conference in Dubai, is expected to be the most productive COP ever with the Global Stocktake to be delivered for the first time, he pointed out.
"Viet Nam will send a high-level delegation to COP28 and work closely with the UAE to make it a successful event with practical outcomes."
78th anniversary of Vietnam
As this year also marks the 78th anniversary of Viet Nam's independence, its celebrations would be even more special as it coincides the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Viet Nam and the UAE, the ambassador explained.
The embassy is organising a grand celebration on 21st September, 2023 evening at the National Theatre in Abu Dhabi for invited guests. Vietnamese cultural performances and exhibition of Vietnamese products will enrich the event, the envoy said.