Vietnamese Ambassador to Bangladesh Pham Viet Chien has expressed optimism that the bilateral trade between the two countries will reach $2 billion mark in 2023 when the two countries will celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations.
In the first nine months of 2022 calendar year, the bilateral trade turnover between the two countries has reached $1.1 billion and it is expected to reach $1.5 billion by end of December.
“If this trend keeps continuing, I hope that trade between the two countries will reach $2 billion in 2023,” Ambassador Chien told UNB in an interview, terming the economic relations between the two countries “robust”.
Responding to a question, the Vietnamese envoy said he has always encouraged Bangladeshi businesses to promote more Bangladeshi goods and services to the Vietnamese people so that Bangladesh can export more products to the Vietnam market.
“I think there is a lot of potential to further boost the economic relations between the two countries – from manufacturing industry to agriculture,” he said seeking more cooperation with each other as economic cooperation is one of the most significant features of the bilateral relations between the two countries.
The two countries want to maintain a high economic growth and keep moving towards realising the targets to be upper middle-income countries in 2030 and then developed and high-income countries in the early 2040s, living up to the dreams of the two founding fathers: Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh.
“One of the significant pieces of evidence is that complementary cooperation between the two countries can help each other to realise and implement the development strategy of each country,” said the Vietnamese envoy.
The bilateral trade between the two countries now is in favour of Vietnam, said the ambassador.
“I have been working and discussing with Bangladeshi enterprises. I urge the Bangladeshi businesses to be more proactive in promoting goods and services to the Vietnam market towards balancing the trade turnover between the two countries,” he mentioned.
Pharmaceutical products from Bangladesh have the potential to make a stronger presence in the Vietnam market, said the envoy, adding that every year Vietnam imports large quantities of pharmaceutical products.
At the same time, the ambassador said, he encouraged the Vietnamese businesses to more proactively explore Bangladeshi goods and services.
Ambassador Chien said the overall activities to promote relations between the two countries were a bit limited due to Covid-19 pandemic.
But, he said, the relations between the two countries have “developed strongly”, not only in terms of bilateral relations, but also in the multilateral forum, especially in the areas of shared interest like climate change, which is impacting both Vietnam and Bangladesh very seriously.
“It has been developed very deeply and strongly,” said the ambassador, mentioning the challenges like disruption of the supply chains, global transportation and energy crisis.
Responding to a question on high-level exchanges of visits, the ambassador said they have been in communication with the Bangladesh side to make the plan and the activities to celebrate the “milestone” year-2023 appropriately. “It can include activities like delegation exchanges.”
The ambassador said Vietnam always attaches high importance to the high-level exchanges between the two countries, especially in the last 10 years.
In 2012, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Vietnam while in 2015, President Abdul Hamid paid a state visit to Vietnam, he said.
In 2018, Former Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang and his spouse paid a three-day state visit to Bangladesh from March 4-6 at the invitation of President Abdul Hamid.
However, in the last few years due to Covid-19 pandemic there have been no such activities between the two countries.
“But in the coming times when the Covid-19 is under control, the delegation exchange between the two countries will be continued, especially marking the 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries,” said the envoy.
Regarding the issue of “forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals” he said that Vietnam, as a member of ASEAN, shares the general viewpoint of a “five-point consensus.”
ASEAN leaders underscored the importance of Myanmar’s continued efforts in addressing the situation in the Rakhine State, including commencing the repatriation process, in a voluntary, safe and dignified manner in accordance with its bilateral agreements with Bangladesh.
“Vietnam also wishes for stability in Myanmar to create the favourable conditions for Bangladesh and Myanmar to cooperate with each other for the repatriation of the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals back to their homeland,” said the envoy.
He said with the excellent relations with Bangladesh, Vietnam encourages Bangladesh and Myanmar to work together, negotiate and hold talks.
He said both the countries can find the long-term “plan and strategy” appropriate for the aimed repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homeland in line with the previous agreement signed between the two countries.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char and not a single Myanmar national has been repatriated since 2017 when the latest influx took place.