S’pore, Vietnam set for strategic partnership

Singapore and Vietnam are set to elevate their relationship to that of a strategic partnership, building on the close ties between the two nations.

The partnership, a first for Vietnam with an Asean nation, will open up new avenues of cooperation between the two nations, including defence, education, training, finance and security.

The pact will be inked next year when the two countries celebrate 40 years of formal diplomatic relations.

“I look forward to elevate our relationship…

This will cement the existing links between Vietnam and Singapore and renew our commitment for closer cooperation,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

He was speaking at an official dinner at the Istana hosted for Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, who is here on a three-day visit, at the invitation of Mr Lee.

Raising a toast to the friendship between the two nations, Mr Lee said both sides are committed to an integrated Asean community by 2015, “in order to achieve a common goal of a peaceful, prosperous and more integrated South-east Asia”.

Mr Trong, the top official of CPV, in turn said Vietnam “firmly believes that relations between the two nations contain all favourable and necessary conditions to reach new heights”.

Vietnam, once seen as an emerging Asian economic dynamo, has been dealing with a slowing economy in recent times, with foreign investments dropping 34 per cent this year, according to government figures.

But the country enjoys close economic links with Singapore, with bilateral trade hitting almost $10 billion in the first seven months of this year.

Last year, the two exchanged goods worth US$11.8 billion (S$14.5 billion).

The Republic is also the fourth-largest foreign investor in Vietnam, with cumulative investments of US$24 billion in more than 1,000 projects.

Among these are the four successful Vietnam-Singapore industrial parks.

A fifth park is now on the cards.

Economic cooperation between the two countries is facilitated by the existing Connectivity Framework Agreement.

More linkages are on the way, with the two sides signing memorandums of understanding yesterday on financial cooperation, taxation and study visit programmes for senior CPV officials.

“These agreements reflect the comprehensive and broad-based nature of our friendship,” Mr Lee said.

Earlier, the two leaders held bilateral talks in which they discussed recent developments in the South China Sea.

They agreed that the situation should be resolved peacefully in accordance with international law.

They also expressed hope that discussions between Asean and China on a Code of Conduct to manage the South China Sea territorial disputes peacefully could start soon.

Mr Trong leads a 12-member high-level delegation to the city-state.

He is scheduled to speak at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy tomorrow.

 Source: TST 13/9/2012

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