Vietnam’s President Vo Van Thuong visited US attend the APEC meeting in San Francisco and this meeting was important as it highlighted the need to improve regional trade facilitation and work towards better trade and investment ties in the Asia-Pacific region. Following the visit of President Biden to Vietnam in September 2023 which was seen as a milestone in building relationship between the two countries, particularly in areas such as education and training, trade, investment, joint collaboration in IT, and working towards addressing medical challenges because of Agent Orange. This visit gained significance in reinforcing improving ties between US and Vietnam. The US president made a firm commitment to remove the unexploded ordinance (UXO) which were left behind after the Vietnam War in 1974. In response to this, Vietnam has assured that it will be helping United States in finding the remains of men who are missing in action (MIA) during the Vietnam War. The establishment of the strategic comprehensive partnership to build peace cooperation and promote development between the two sides was one of the achievements during the visit of President Biden to Vietnam.
The 4-day visit of Vietnamese president Thuong was primarily meant to reinforce the ties following the September 11 visit by President Biden, and look into the possible areas of cooperation related to global economy, building synergies and promoting peace in the Asia Pacific region. President Thuong proposed that Vietnam intends to be the host for the APEC meeting in 2027. During the visit of president there were meetings organised between the Vietnamese delegation and US business leaders to build partnership and look forward for continuous up gradation of the comprehensive strategic partnership. President Thuong give a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations and opened avenues for cooperation between the two sides, particularly in areas which are much in demand such as high technology, energy particularly in renewables, infrastructure development, both physical and digital, and urged US businesses to work towards building capacities in Vietnam such as training of highly skilled labour which can bring about gradual shift to digital economy. He urged the need to address challenges related to climate change through much more cohesive work on green economy. In fact, during the APEC meeting, a separate meeting was Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) for prosperity and 13 countries joined this venture along with US. This clearly showcases that President Thuong has been very particular with regard to bringing investment in Vietnam and preparing the platform for Vietnam’s transition to 4th industrial revolution through automation, investment in artificial intelligence, and new technologies which will be completely revolutionise the manufacturing in Vietnam.
Vietnam has been one of the foremost proponents of support for multilateralism, and has been also working with various nations in enforcing better order at sea and building a maritime security consensus. In fact, Vietnam’s agenda was for working towards sustainable economy and build consensus to address uncertainties related to geopolitical developments. Vietnam has been member of APEC for nearly 2 and a half decades, and this year theme of APEC called for creating a resilient and sustainable future for all. During the APEC leaders week it was clearly articulated that there is need for more partnership in politics and diplomacy, science and technology, education and training as well as capacity building, and facilitate people to people and business to business contacts building greater harmony at the regional level. Vietnam’s president interactions with Boeing and Apple business leadership showcased the need for inviting investment from multinational companies in sectors such as aviation and new technology. Vietnam which is aspiring to be the high-income country by the year 2045 is looking for partnerships and joint ventures with leading technology companies in aviation, manufacturing, software development, and services industry so as to fulfil the larger agenda for improving living standards of the Vietnamese population.
During the 30th APEC economic leaders meeting, it was articulated that the organisation will aspire for Putrajaya Vision 2040, and work towards the Aotearoa Plan of action for building the Asia Pacific community which will be open, resilient, dynamic and peaceful by the year 2040. The leaders aspired for a better, open, transparent, and inclusive trade environment as well as work towards inclusive digital economy. In his remarks Vietnamese president stated that there are disparities between nations, and the gap between rich and poor have widened. There is need for protection and separation as well as rational utilisation of limited resources for sustainable development. He resonated the thought that there is a need for not only improving investment climate but also work towards better job quality, increase the income of the labours and workers, while preserving the ecological environment. Highlighting the need for urgent attention in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and build conditions for the global South, He urged for expanding the economies through promoting corporate social responsibility.
In his proposals under the APEC mission, he stated that there is a need for building a resilient region, identify growth drivers, and harness development opportunities with the support of member economies. During his meetings with Chinese president, Korean president, Japanese prime minister and many other leading dignitaries, he proposed that Vietnam is pursuing an independent foreign policy and look forward for emerging as a trusted partner and an active responsible member of the international community. His speech at the Council on Foreign relations clearly articulated that Vietnam steadfastly adheres to the 4 No’s defence policy and is working towards meeting its responsibilities under the climate change obligations, United Nations peacekeeping activities, and contributing to international humanitarian aid and relief. During his visit to the US, there were a number of cooperation documents which were signed related to greenhouse gas emissions reduction, development of industrial parks, trade in agricultural products artificial intelligence, infrastructure development, education and training, and renewable energy development. The US government appreciated Vietnam’s vision related to high tech development particularly semiconductor industry, and it was appreciated that Vietnam is making conditions conducive for such a quantum jump in manufacturing and digitisation through economic liberalisation.