HANOI, Vietnam -- Key figures of South Korea and Vietnam pledged to cultivate a century-long perspective on the two nations’ shared prosperity which will lay the foundation for a shift in regional dynamics, in the wake of an upgrade in bilateral ties earlier this month.
Long-lasting economic, industrial and cultural exchanges, as well as reciprocal cooperation between Korea and Vietnam are vital in the face of the global uncertainties disrupting industrial supply chains worldwide, said speakers at a Korea-Vietnam Economic Cooperation Forum 2022, an in-person event Friday with some 1,000 attendees.
"It is high time for the two countries to prepare strategies to seek shared prosperity for the next 100 years, based on mutual trust built over the past 30 years," said South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in a speech delivered by the Korean Ambassador to Vietnam Oh Young-ju. The speech came at the event held at InterContinental Hanoi Landmark72, jointly hosted by Herald Corp. – the publisher of The Korea Herald and Herald Business -- the Korea International Trade Association, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Korea-Vietnam Friendship Association.
"The two countries are strongly urged to strengthen cooperation to pursue supply chain resilience and (their) transfiguration to eco-friendly, digital economies. We will also lay a stronger foundation for coexistence and improve the environment for mutual exchanges based on cultural links," President Yoon said via the Korean envoy.
Such a long-term perspective will allow Vietnam to build an independent and self-reliant economy that could withstand external fluctuations such as strategic restructuring and redeployment of supply chains by countries with geopolitical power.
"Facing the international fluctuations as well as the current major economic trends, Vietnam is well aware of the importance and urgency of adjusting the growth model and economic integration towards the direction of being more sustainable, more self-strengthening, making the most of internal resources, combined with optimizing external forces," said Nguyen Duc Hai, vice chairman of the National Assembly of Vietnam.
"The current orientation of Vietnam's foreign direct investment attraction has shifted from merely 'attracting' to 'cooperating' with foreign investors in the spirit of 'harmonious benefits, shared challenges.'"
To cope with the challenges, Korean entities' unrelenting support for the Vietnamese economy would be crucial, and Vietnam is ready to foster a more investor-friendly environment.
"Vietnam is committed to creating an open, favorable and equal business and investment environment for foreign investors, including Korea," Hai added.
According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment in Vietnam, Korea is the country to have made the most foreign direct investment in Vietnam in the first 11 months of this year.
The changing environment, such as a series of law reforms on investment, enterprises, bidding, land and housing, is turning Vietnam into a more attractive destination for foreign direct investment with enhanced transparency, in what could be a friendlier environment for Korean investors, according to Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment of Vietnam Tran Tuy Dong.
"We sense the determination and speediness of Korean direct investors in carrying out Vietnamese projects, and we thank Korean firms for their contribution to the Vietnamese society and its local communities," Dong said.
"More Korean enterprises are coming to Vietnam from a wider range of industries, such as cutting-edge technologies, clean energy solutions and finance, and we expect them to spur Vietnam's economic growth."
This comes as the two nations have a track record of rolling their sleeves to help each other to cope with challenges in turbulent times.
Korea announced plans to donate at least 1.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Vietnam in late 2021, when the nation was suffering vaccine shortage in its effort to curb the next wave of the pandemic. In return, Vietnam in November 2021 helped Korea overcome the diesel exhaust fluid shortage, by supplying at least 600,000 metric tons of urea solution.
"Korea and Vietnam are reinforcing their economic partnership, against the backdrop of the technology arms race of the world's superpowers and the ensuing supply chain reorganization," said the Democratic Party of Korea’s Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon, who heads the Korea-Vietnam Parliamentary Friendship Group.
"To overcome global uncertainties and pursue joint prosperity, (Korea and Vietnam) are poised to stand committed to becoming a reliable partner to each other."
The two countries’ pledges come following their upgrading of bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership earlier in December, three decades after Seoul initiated trade ties with Hanoi.
Over the past three decades, trade volume has jumped over 160-fold. Korea's exports to Vietnam rose 130-fold, while its imports from Vietnam surged nearly 420-fold. A free trade pact between Korea and Vietnam effective in December 2015 stimulated growth in trade volume by 1.8 times from 2016 to 2021.
Cultural exchanges have also been unfolding. Vietnam designated the Korean language as one of the major foreign-language electives in 2021, and 1 out of 5 Vietnamese are estimated to have learned Korean. In addition, some 200,000 Koreans are living in Vietnam, while around 200,000 Vietnamese reside in Korea.
By Son Ji-hyoung
Korea Herald Correspondent