Korea and Vietnam: win-win growth partners
This year has been designated as “Korea-Vietnam Friendship Year” as the two countries are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Dec. 22, 1992, establishment of diplomatic relations between the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Republic of Korea.
During the short period of two decades, there has been great progress in bilateral relations. Trade volumes, which totaled $500 million in 1992, have increased 26-fold to $13.7 billion in 2010 and $18.1 billion in 2011. Korean investment in Vietnam has also increased substantially. By Nov. 20, 2011, Korea became the leading investor to Vietnam with foreign direct investment (FDI) amounts of registered capital of $23.65 billion in 3,072 projects.
Bilateral economic relations between Korea and Vietnam have attained fast development thanks not only to their geographic proximity, cultural similarities and complementary economic structures but also to the active efforts of the Korean government to contribute to improving economic infrastructure and investment environment in Vietnam as well as to establish a solid foundation for mutually beneficial cooperation through the Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Vietnam.
In particular, the support from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) through the Export-Import Bank of Korea (Korea Eximbank) has greatly contributed to the further enhancement of our bilateral relations. The EDCF has promoted economic development in Vietnam through active and effective support for infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, power plants, hospitals, schools, urban development, etc.
So far, Korea is Vietnam’s second-largest ODA donor country. In fact, 20 percent, or 1.6 trillion won, out of the EDCF’s total support amount of 8.1 trillion won was allocated to Vietnam, thus clearly demonstrating that Korea prioritizes Vietnam as a principle partner for economic cooperation.
Based on the fine development of friendly and cooperative relationship between our two countries over the past years since 1992, during the state visit to Vietnam by President Lee Myung-bak in October 2009, Vietnam and Korea agreed to upgrade the status of diplomatic relation from “comprehensive cooperation partnership” to “strategic cooperation partnership”, thus opening a new era in the Korea-Vietnam fraternal relations.
Korean Wave: from drama to K-pop
Since the introduction of Korean soap operas to Vietnam in the mid 1990s, Korean dramas have become very popular in Vietnam. Today, the Korean Wave has expanded to encompass Korean movies and K-pop, which have become overwhelming cultural trends, as well as Korean products such as electronics, automobiles, fashions, cosmetics, games and Korean cuisine.
A rising number of people, especially young generation, in Vietnam are learning Korean language and opting for studying or working in Korea. Currently, there is a large Vietnamese community in Korea with around 5,000 students, over 66,000 workers and 45,000 women who have got married to Korean husbands. The Vietnamese community in Korea with 116,000 people and the Korean community in Vietnam with 130,000 people serve as a bridge of friendship and cooperation between our two countries.
The people-to-people interaction has also been increasing with approximately 450,000 Korean tourists visiting Vietnam and over 200,000 Vietnamese visiting Korea every year.
Growth through win-win cooperation
Korea and Vietnam are ideal partners in many ways. Situated on the peninsulas (Korean and Indochinese respectively), the two countries share a lot of things in common such as historical traditions and cultural values. These traditional values and the new factor, namely the common goal to build prosperous and happy countries for their peoples in a peaceful, stable and cooperative environment in the region and the world at large have closely bound our two nations together.
“The New Asian Initiative” and the development paradigm of “Low Carbon, Green Growth” proposed by Korea have opened a new era of mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries. In addition, the two countries have complementary strengths: Vietnam has abundant natural and human resources while Korea has advanced technologies and successful experience of economic development.
All the above-mentioned factors have turned Korea and Vietnam into strategic cooperation partners for shared economic growth and prosperity.
Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Tan Dung will be attending the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit on March 26 and 27 and will pay an official visit to Korea from March 28 to 30. The visit will certainly further promote the friendship and win-win cooperation relationship between our two countries.
Tran Trong Toan is ambassador of Vietnam to Korea.