Vietnamese Envoy Courts Trade, Investment during National Day Reception
By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
With combined bilateral trade between Vietnam and Mexico now surpassing $10 billion a year, Vietnamese Ambassador Nguyen Hoanh Nam understandably focused on two-way investment and commercial ties in his national day speech late last month.
“The potential for our economic and trade cooperation is huge, and we need to do more to make the most of it in the time to come,” he said during a diplomatic reception at his embassy to belatedly mark the anniversary of the southeast Asian country’s Sept. 2, 1945, declaration of independence by Ho Chi Minh.
“Vietnam and Mexico are closely linked with each other through the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Tran-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and many other legal frameworks.”
Since the Pacific Rim trade agreement went into effect, binational trade has increased from just $4 billion in 2018 at a rate of more than 40 percent per annum, with Vietnam exporting electronic devices, footwear, seafood, transport vehicles and rubber to Mexico, and Mexico selling Vietnam computers, electronic parts, animal feeds, capital goods and and metals to Vietnam.
Mexico is currently Vietnam’s second-largest trading partner in Latin America, and Vietnam is Mexico’s eighth-largest trade partner in Southeast Asia.
Notwithstanding, investment on both sides has essentially been nil, and Hanoi is working to bring down barriers to court investment from Mexico as well as other countries.
After gaining its independence in 1945, Vietnam remained at war with the French until 1954, when the country was split into two warring factions, each with a different political and economic ideology.
At that time, Vietnam’s economy was characterized by village-based subsistence agriculture and much of its vital farmland was desiccated by the conflict.
The war between the two sides raged on, with the United States subsequently joining in to support the south.
More than 2 Vietnamese million civilians lost their lives before U.S. troops finally withdrew in 1973 and the war-raged country began to try to rebuild its shattered economy and infrastructure.
In 1986, the socialist government launched a comprehensive reform called Doi Moi
(renovation) that was engineered to transform the country from a central-planning subsidy economy to a more open-market economy in which private businesses and foreign-owned enterprises were encouraged.
Soon after, the Vietnamese economy took off, particularly in the industrial sector, where
the annual growth rate reached an average of nearly 14 percent per annum.
In fact, in the last 10 years, Vietnam has registered one of the 10 highest economic growth rates in the world.
“Over the last 78 years, with the aspiration of peace, development, national unity and a transformation from a poor, backward country divided by wars, Vietnam now has become one the the most dynamic economies in Southeast Asia and the Asia Pacific,” Nguyen said.
“In 2022, the GDP growth of Vietnam reached 8.02 percent. Vietnam is now also a member of 15 free trade agreements.”
The ambassador went on to note that Vietnam is now “working hard and aiming to become a developing country with modern industry and a high middle income by 2030, and a developed country with high income by 2045.”
Nguyen said that Vietnam could not have reached it current status as an economic dynamo “without the support, assistance and cooperation of the international community, include our dear Mexican friends.”
“Over the last 48 years, the partnership between our two countries has never been better in all areas: political, economic, cultural, educational and people-to-people contacts,” he said, noting that recent exchange of high-level political visits and commercial delegations has helped spur the bilateral friendship and paved the way for deeper and more expansive mutual cooperation.