Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to Vietnam boosts Vietnam-Malaysia relations

Vietnam and Malaysia formally established diplomatic relations in 1973. Over the past 46 years, the traditional and multifaceted friendly relations between the two countries have been constantly strengthened and developed. The two countries are important members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and share common foreign policy goals such as respect for multilateralism. Both the South Asian countries are also important members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Both countries regularly exchange delegations and conduct high-level contacts, contributing to strengthening good bilateral relations. A joint statement on the Vietnam-Malaysia strategic partnership framework was issued on the occasion of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s official visit to Malaysia in August 2015. The two countries adopted an action programme to implement the Vietnam-Malaysia strategic partnership in March 2017.

In August 2019, Malaysian Prime Minister undertook a two-day official visit to Vietnam the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc. During the visit, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad held bilateral talks with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuân Phúc. The two Prime Ministers discussed a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interests. Both sides noted with satisfaction that the excellent Strategic Partnership between the two countries has been constantly bolstered on the basis of mutual trust and extensive co-operation in all areas, particularly economics, defence, security, agriculture and socio-cultural.

Malaysia and Vietnam pledged commitment for the early signing of an action programme to realize the bilateral strategic partnership for 2020 – 2025, with a focus on enhancing economic links, strategic cooperation in national defence and security, and partnership in marine cooperation, innovation, science, education and labour. Both PMs welcomed the discussion on the new Plan of Actions (POA) for the period of 2020 – 2025.

The two PMs also agreed to maintain frequent high-level contacts and increase discussions on strategic issues through the exchange of high-level visits, as well as regular exchanges among political parties, governmental and parliamentary delegations.

Malaysia and Vietnam also enhanced cooperation in the field of defence and security. he two sides agreed to promptly launch bilateral defence mechanisms, including a high-level committee on Defence Cooperation and naval consultations, while accelerating the signing of cooperation documents, including a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on defence cooperation, a MoU on the establishment of joint patrol and hotline at sea, a MoU on law cooperation, agreements on the prevention and control of human trafficking, and the transfer of sentenced persons. The two Prime Ministers agreed to increase bilateral exchanges in defence through the prompt establishment of the High-Level Committee (HLC) on Defence Cooperation.

Both sides agreed to hold the first meeting of the HLC on Defence Cooperation that will be hosted by Vietnam in 2019. Regarding regional and global strategic and security issues of common concern, the Malaysian PM voiced his nation’s support for Vietnam as Chair of ASEAN in 2020 and as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in the 2020 – 2021 tenure. The two countries pledged closer collaboration with ASEAN to ensure peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea.

Vietnam and Malaysia share robust trade and economic relations. Bilateral trade between the two countries has reached US$11.5 billion – an estimated year on year rise of 13%. Malaysia is the eighth largest investor in Vietnam with nearly 600 projects worth over US$12 billion. In a joint statement, both the countries agreed to promote the mutual import and export of each country’s products, including electrical and electronics, petroleum products, chemicals and chemical products, manufactures of metal, machinery, equipment and parts, agricultural produce, palm oil, halal products, seafood, as well as garments and textiles, and raise the total trade to reach $15 billion or higher by 2020. The two Prime Ministers emphasised on investments in areas of high potential, such as oil and gas, information technology, smart manufacturing, artificial intelligence, Industrial Revolution 4.0, wastewater treatment, skill training, logistics, smart agriculture, food industry (halal) and textiles. Both sides encouraged investors to resolve any outstanding or arising business disputes in accordance with the receiving countries’ rules and regulations.

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