25th Anniversary of establishing the Vietnam - United States diplomatic relations and looking back the cooperation progress of Tien Giang province and United States (US) partners
The 2020 is the special year for Vietnam and US, commemorating 25 years of establishing the diplomatic relations. Since the time of normalization and officially establishing the diplomatic relations on July 12th, 1995 there has been a remarkable progress in Vietnam - US relations and brought many benefits to both nations. From encountering to setting up partnership and becoming comprehensive partner it is actually a long and challenging process; and until now both sides have satisfied with these strategic achievements. Looking back the past time there can be seen 06 essential domains which basically changed the relations of two countries.
- The first is about politics. After declaration of normalizing the diplomatic relations both countries urgently opened their embassies in Ha Noi and Washington, D.C in 1995; and afterwards consulates in big cities as San Francisco, Houston, New York, Ho Chi Minh City and expected to have one more in Da Nang city in the coming time. However, due to experiencing many years of sufferings caused by war the reciprocal relations were facing ups and downs. Until July of 2013 (after 18 years) on the occasion of official business trip to US led by President, Truong Tan Sang, both sides came to agreement of setting up the framework of comprehensive partnership. Afterwards, General Secretary, Nguyen Phu Trong took an official visit trip to US in July of 2015, which opened new page in history of two-country relations. In the joint statement on vision of the US - Vietnam relationship publicized after the meeting both sides confirmed to continue more deepening and diversifying the comprehensive partnership on principles of respect of independence, sovereignty, political system and non-interference in other's internal affairs, which is foundation for building the mutual trust and leading to raising the two-country relations to new higher level. Experiencing four times of US presidents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and recently Donald Trump, all of them took their business trips to Vietnam for extending the relations of both countries. In 2016 on the occasion of the visit trip to Vietnam President, Barack Obama, declared the complete cancellation of restriction on selling lethal weapons to Vietnam, which can be seen as a last barrier to be removed for completely normalizing the relations between US and Vietnam. Stepping up to the term of President, Donald Trump, the two-country relations continue to be extended when rightly by the end of May of 2017, just 4 months after his holding of presidential power, Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, as the first leader of ASEAN and the third of Asia (After Japan Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe and China President, Xi Jiping) took his official visit to US and had a fruitful discussion with President, Donald Trump, at the White House on developing the US - Vietnam partnership. Advancing rightly as expected by both sides, in the term of President, Donald Trump, the relationship between US and Vietnam in politics and diplomacy has been well progressing. The typical example of this process can be seen through the official visit to Vietnam by President, Donald Trump, in November of 2017 by which two countries confirmed to deepen the relations based on the previous joint statements; respect the UN Charter and international laws; respect of independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and political system of each other. Moreover, in terms of multilateral relations Vietnam and US have continued to have close cooperation and good coordination in the regional and international fora; reinforce the solidarity and dignify the role of ASEAN, extend the relations between ASEAN and US.
- The second relates to the economic and trade cooperation. Following up the fruitful relations in politics and diplomacy the economic and trade cooperation has been evaluated successfully and considered as the stimulus for the reciprocal relations. According to data provided by Vietnam competent authorities, currently US is the biggest trading partner of Vietnam. The mutual trade turnover has increased by over 100 times after 25 years, from 451 million USD in 1995 to 45.1 billion USD in 2015 and attained over 77 billion USD in 2019; and expected to reach 80 billion in 2020. In terms of FDI US is ranked the 10th partner of 130 countries and territories having their invested projects in Vietnam with 908 projects and the investment capital of around 9.33 billion USD. Some major groups as GE, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Nike, AES, and Intel... have well contributed in supporting Vietnam to strongly lay down its position in the global production chain. In terms of ODA, the US Government pledged to provide its support of around 100 million USD to Vietnam every year. Regarding tourism the figure of American visitors coming to Vietnam reached over 687,200 arrivals in 2018, increasing by 11.9% compared to 2017. In Asia Vietnam has been classified secondly after Japan in terms of the tourist attractiveness. The American Tourist Association quoted that Vietnam is becoming the newly interested destination thanks to charming tourist spots as Ha Noi, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, Sa Pa, Ha Long...
- The third links to the cooperation in defense and security. If at the beginning time both sides focused only on problems concerning prisoners of war (POW) and MIA in Vietnam during the bilateral meetings. Afterward both sides gradually exchanged visits of higher level, Minister of Defense; and in the following time - promoted activities to overcome the war consequences and cooperation in other areas. In June of 2015 Minister of Defense of two countries signed declaration of the common vision on Vietnam - US cooperation in defense. In 2016 on the occasion of the visit trip to Vietnam President, Barack Obama, declared the complete cancellation of restriction on selling lethal weapons to Vietnam, contributed in strengthening the mutual trust to deal with regional security problems. Presently, both sides continue to exchange their delegations of various levels, maintain the bilateral discussion schemes and meetings at regional fora. Both sides also ratified the 3-year action plan of defense cooperation for the period of 2018-2021. Particularly, US have supported Vietnam and ASEAN countries to improve their capacity in enforcing the laws on sea and ensuring the navigation security. In 2017 US handed over a used patrol ship of Hamilton class. Following this, on his visit to Vietnam in November of 2019 the US Defense Secretary announced to hand the second over to Vietnam in the coming time. For these two years US totally handed 24 Metal Shark patrol ships over to Vietnam Coast Guards, providing support in training, maintenance and upgrading the facilities related. In March of 2018 the USS Carl Vinson firstly came to Vietnam after 40 years; and next the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier visited Da Nang port in March of 2020, marking 25 years of normalizing the diplomatic relations.
- The four concerns the cooperation in science and technology. Both countries signed the treaty of cooperation in science and technology in 2000 and set up the Joint Committee of Cooperation in Science and Technology. In 2014 two parties ratified the treaty of utilizing nuclear power for peace and opened opportunity for civil nuclear cooperation. Besides this, in terms of aerospace NASA and Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology Institute signed the statement of common intention of cooperation in aerospace study in 2011. Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology Institute and USAID signed the statement of cooperation in science and technology in 2015; and both sides held the first discussion on energy security in Ha Noi in 2018. At the 10th meeting of the Joint Committee of Cooperation in Science and Technology (JCM10) taking place from October 15th to 17th of 2018 in Washington, D.C the US side committed to promote the cooperation in health care, biotechnology in agriculture, conservation, innovation, applying remote sensing to monitor the sea environment, building data served for management of lower Mekong area...
- The fifth refers to the cooperation in education and environment. This is a fundamental factor for the reciprocal relations. Presently, there are 30,000 students and practitioners to have different courses in US, top ranking among ASEAN countries and fifth among countries having the most number of students studying in US. Both sides have actively carried out the project of building the Fulbright University in Vietnam; exchanged the agreement of performing the peaceful program of creating favorable conditions for the US volunteers to come to Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City to teach English. The US continues to pay great attention to environmental problems and humanity by maintaining and increasing budget for activities of eradicating the war consequences in Vietnam, of which there is a project of removing the toxic matters in the hot spots polluted by dioxin, providing support to victims of dioxin and orange agent. In 2017, the US side completed the main works in detoxifying the Da Nang airport, committed to continue the project of detoxifying the Bien Hoa airport. Besides, the US also provided aids to remove the consequences caused by bombs, mines and explosive items left during the war time in Vietnam with the total amount of 94 million USD from 1993 until now.
- The sixth links to the people exchanges. Citing the achievements reached by both countries during the 25 past years, Assistant to the US Secretary of State summarized that the people-to-people relations have also generated a good foundation for the more essential relationship between two nations. If in 1995 there were less than 60,000 Americans coming to Vietnam every year. Nowadays, there are nearly 700,000 Americans coming to Vietnam yearly. In 1995 there were only 800 Vietnamese students following the training courses in the US universities. Today this number moved up to 30,000 Vietnamese students as aforementioned. The Assistant to the US Secretary of State stressed that it is the right time to look forward and get that the friendship between two nations will not be positioned by what happened in the past, but by the possibility and the future, being rooted from the cooperation and mutual respect.
In terms of Tien Giang province, in the recent years the cooperation between the province and the US partners has covered most of the fields, of which it mainly focused on economy - trade and education - training. According to the statistical data provided by Department of Industry and Trade the trade turnover between the province and the US partners attained around 833 million USD, of which the export volume was around 809 million USD with the main products as rice, fruits, garments, shoes, fisheries, bronze tube... and import volume was 23 million USD with the products served for manufacturing and processing. In terms of FDI there is one project of producing feed for animal, poultry and fisheries invested by Cargill Corporation with the investment capital of 04 million USD. Regarding NGO aids the US side supported around 2.5 million USD for the projects of ensuring social security, poverty eradication and mitigation, improving the education quality, environmental protection and dealing with climate change... in the period of 2011 - 2019. In 2019 there were 32,794 Americans over 850,000 international tourists coming to the province, being ranked the 7th among the countries and territories having tourists taking tours to the province. In terms of education and training there are more and more provincial students to follow their courses in the US; and in return the US academic institutions also sent 07 volunteers to the province for teaching English to students, officials and employees in the period of 2012-2019. In reference to the summary done by the provincial competent authorities there are about over 10,361 Vietnamese expatriates being Tien Giang residents in the past time to take their living and working in the US, occupying the highest ratio (57.5%) among the countries and territories having provincial expatriates to live there; and thanks to these expatriates the people-to-people exchanges have been well extended and created favorable conditions for the provincial people to come to US for tourism and visiting their relatives as well. Regarding delegation exchanges, the provincial People's Committee appointed averagely from 5 to 10 delegations to the US for practical study, research and promoting investment, trade and tourism annually. In the return yearly the province received the US delegations to come for visiting as the delegation of young political leadership, delegation of assistants to the US congress... Every year the US Consulate General in HCM city also sends their delegations to the province for working with the provincial authorities in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, environment protection, consular and citizenship protection... The cooperation in the area of MIA was fine in the past time and all the doubted case were practically surveyed and excavated on the fields.
Based on the itinerary of 25 past years in spite of hardship at some moments, it can be generally said that the US and Vietnam cooperation has reached many fruitful results, essentially deepened and created a solid platform for developing the reciprocal relations in the upcoming time. Vietnam and the US have well had effective cooperation in many areas and on three arenas: bilateral, regional and global. This progress is adaptable to the global trend, has brought benefits to both nations and peace and stability of the region and the world. In 2019, at the reception to welcome the US Ambassador, Daniel J.Kritenbrink on the New Year chance, Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, confirmed that both sides continue the cooperation in all areas of economy, trade, security - defense and international matters, advancing the 25th anniversary of normalizing the diplomatic relations between two countries. The US Ambassador, Daniel J. Kritenbrink also stated that the US will continue to support Vietnam to overcome the war consequences; and simultaneously desire to promote the cooperation with Vietnam in most of areas including security and defense. The US has considered Vietnam as the top important partner in the region and wanted to develop the relations with Vietnam and other ASEAN countries for peace, cooperation and prosperity; stimulated the development of Mekong sub-region area. The US is willing to support Vietnam when holding its role of non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the period of 2020-2021 and chairmanship of ASEAN in 2020.
Privately regarding to Tien Giang province it is very necessary to strengthen the cooperation with the US partners because this is the first power state in the world with extra capacity in science and technology, education and training; and the top exported market for the provincial key products in the long term./.
Translated by the Department of Foreign Affairs