50 years of diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Vietnam

Published : 10 Feb 2023 08:26 PM

Md. Abdus Sobhan

Vietnam was one of the first countries to officially recognise Bangladesh as an independent state. Bangladesh and Vietnam enjoy excellent friendship on the basis of historical similarities, shared values of independence, peace and mutual-cooperation and share the same vision of development. Relations between these two countries have a history, stretching back not only to fifty years of diplomatic relations and diplomatic ties since 11th February, 1973, but to nearly thousand years of interactions.  During colonial times, people from both countries showed their sympathy and support to each other and prominent leaders from both countries had personal contacts even before independence. Bangladesh has also supported Vietnam in several wars in the past and the political, social and economic relationship between the two countries has been strengthened through visits by the respective leaders. 

Bangladesh and Vietnam are two faithful, helpful and mutually benefited countries and this relationship has contributed in socioeconomic development, knowledge transfer, migration, trade, human resource exchange, capacity building of the institutions and in many more areas. Bangladesh and Vietnam are characterised by open market economy as well as an open trade policy, a less inexpensive workforce and generous incentives to foreign firms contributed to both countries success and despite Covid-19, the economy have remained resilient, expanding by 7.10 per cent and 8.00 per cent respectively in 2022, which was the highest rates in the world and the GDP growth of Bangladesh and Vietnam are expected at 6.8 per cent and 6.7 per cent respectively in 2023. 

Bangladesh attaches utmost importance to its bilateral ties with Vietnam and the two countries are close partners in multiple areas.  They want to work closely to enhance the bilateral trade volume in near future. The countries  have tremendous potentiality to negotiate or discuss trade and investment issues and  focus on priority areas including agricultural trade,  promotion of trade in jute and jute goods, trade in halal products, development of blue  ocean economy and costal  economic zones, pharmaceutical exports from Bangladesh to Vietnam, Vietnamese investment in Bangladesh’s Special Economic Zones,  bilateral cooperation in ICT and electronics, textile and garments sectors, trade in software services, tourism sector, direct air link, opening of commercial banks in  both sides as well as   education and health sector cooperation.

The government of Bangladesh wants Bangladesh to be a gateway for the digital world and has started multiple initiatives to develop a skilled, equipped and digital-ready pool of talent. Vietnam is keen to help Bangladesh develop skilled manpower for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) because Vietnam has the second largest pool of information communication technology (ICT) and human resource in Asia. A large number of ICT graduates from universities, colleges, vocational institutes enter the job market each year in Vietnam. From that point, Vietnam can help Bangladesh to develop ICT skilled manpower and the Vietnam’s ICT companies to consider about the possibility of long-term investments in Bangladesh to utilize local IT-skilled workforce, as well as to provide more scholarships in ICT sector for Bangladeshi students and vice versa.

Bangladesh and Vietnam are on a roll. They have benefitted most due to  the shifting of apparel and footwear exports from China and found that in 2022 , both the  countries’ combined of apparel and footwear export to the US and the EU equaled half of china’s share. To attain achieve targeted shares, basic manufacturing items and diversified products should be more emphasized for both countries to become a modern industrial countries with upper middle income by 2030 and a developed high income  nations by near 2047.

Both countries have high potential in the readymade garment (RMG), leather sectors, agro processing industries and agricultural products are also need to adopt cutting edge technology to compete in the international market and the cooperation will be beneficial for both nations and in near future will become an export based  countries.

Vietnam is one of the members of ASEAN which has ASEAN free trade area to enjoy benefits through easy market access at the reduced tariff rates and non-tariff measures as a member state of ASEAN, along with FTA countries with EU, Eurasian economic union, Chile, Korea and Japan and comprehensive and progressive signatory agreement for Trans –Pacific Partnership and the Regional Economic Partnership Agreement. Bangladesh should follow the Vietnam’s model to sign a FTA agreement with her and also sign with different counties for FTA in the world.

Vietnam can invest in Special Economic Zones and Hi-tech Parks throughout Bangladesh, where attractive incentive packages are being offered to foreign investors because rate of return through investment in Bangladesh is one of the highest in the Asian region. The future of Bangladesh-Vietnam relation is extremely promising. 

Bangladesh Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been playing an important role to develop business between the two countries.  In the past, business delegations of BVCCI visited several times to Vietnam to explore business 

opportunities and to enhance bilateral trade and commerce between the two countries. 

Both Bangladesh and Vietnam are on the verge of further economic expansions in terms of export-import, investment and economic integration. This common interest between Bangladesh and Vietnam should render closer bilateral economic and diplomatic ties.

Md. Abdus Sobhan is a Director of Bangladesh Vietnam chamber of commerce and industry