This is Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s first official trip to the neighboring countries in the post of the Government leader of Vietnam. The visit is also seen as an important diplomatic activity in the Vietnam-Cambodia Friendship Year 2017 and Vietnam-Laos Solidarity and Friendship Year 2017.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his spouse on official visits to Cambodia, from April 24 to 25, and Laos, from April 26 to 27. Photo: VNA 
Vietnam and Cambodia set up diplomatic ties on June 24, 1967. In recent years, the two countries have maintained delegation exchanges at all levels, thereby consolidating mutual trust between their leaders and people. In 2016, the two countries actively exchanged delegations at all levels, including a State visit to Cambodia by Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in June; an official visit by National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan in September; and participation of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the 9th Cambodia – Laos – Vietnam Development Triangle Area Summit in Siem Riep. Meanwhile, Cambodian National Assembly President Heng Samrin attended a ceremony marking 70 years of Vietnam’s first general election in January; Prime Minister Hun Sen attended the 7th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy Summit, the 8th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam Summit, and the World Economic Forum on the Mekong Region in October and paid an official trip to Vietnam in December.

Vietnam currently has 190 investment projects with total registered capital of USD 2.89 billion in Cambodia, focusing on agriculture and forestry. Cambodia’s investment in Vietnam has increased, with 18 projects worth USD 58.125 million so far. Two-way trade exceeded USD 2.9 billion in 2016 and is estimated at USD 936 million in the first quarter of 2017 (a year-on-year increase of 11.6 %). The Q1 figure consists of USD 582 million of Vietnamese exports (up 8.9 %), and USD 354 million of Cambodian goods (up 16.2 %).

Last year, about 960,000 Vietnamese tourists visited Cambodia and 212,000 Cambodian visitors to Vietnam, making Vietnam rank 13th among destinations of Cambodian tourists.

Cooperation between the two sides’ ministries, sectors, localities and organizations have been strengthened via delegation exchanges, mutual support in economic development, health care and culture, and people-to-people exchange between border people and localities of the two sides, contributing to maintaining peace, stability, friendship and cooperation along the shared borderline.

The 15th meeting of the Vietnam – Cambodia Joint Committee on Economic, Cultural and Scientific-Technological Cooperation and the 9th Vietnam - Cambodia conference on cooperation and development between border provinces, held in Phnom Penh from March 13 to 15, 2017, were all concluded successfully. The two countries are actively coordinating to well prepare for the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

Additionally, cooperation on security-defense has been enhanced as the two countries have promoted coordination in sharing information and resolving issues emerging along the shared border. The two sides have increased joint patrols at sea and worked closely to search for and repatriate the remains of Vietnam’s volunteer soldiers who died in Cambodia during the wars. Especially, the two countries are consistent with the principle of not allowing any hostile forces to use the territory of one country to sabotage the other country’s security and stability.

Vietnam and Cambodia are also striving to finish land border demarcation and marker planting as soon as possible so as to foster peace, stability, cooperation and sustainable development along their shared borderline.

Meanwhile, Vietnam and Laos established their diplomatic relations on September 5th, 1962. Since then, the traditional bilateral friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries have flourished. The two countries maintain bilateral cooperation mechanisms such as the annual meeting of the Vietnam – Laos intergovernmental committee for bilateral cooperation. The two sides regularly exchange delegations at all levels; promote cooperation on external affairs. Moreover, they also established an annual dialogue mechanism at the foreign ministerial level in December 2014 and a political consultation mechanism at the deputy foreign ministerial level in July 2015.

As of February 2017, Vietnam had 408 investment projects with total registered capital of USD 3.7 billion in Laos. Many of these projects have been effective, boosting development of the two countries, generating jobs and social benefits, assisting Laos in its poverty reduction and hunger eradication efforts. The two countries signed a new trade agreement in March 2015 and a Border Trade Agreement in June 2015. Last year, the bilateral trade turnover reached USD 832 million. To promote trade activities, the industry and trade ministries of the two countries organized a conference to popularize the new trade agreement and the border trade agreement in Savannakhet and Vientiane, Laos from July 5 to 6, 2016.

In recent years, bilateral security and defense cooperation has been reinforced in all aspects, especially training and education. The two sides continue to cooperate to implement signed agreements on security and defense cooperation. A ceremony marking the completion of the project on increasing and upgrading border markers along the Vietnam – Laos boundary was held in Hanoi on March 17, 2016 with the participation of the Prime Ministers of the two countries.

Vietnam and Laos also inked a protocol on borderline and national border markers; continue to extensively implement the two governments’ agreement on migration and marriage along the shared border.

The search for and repatriations of Vietnamese volunteer soldiers who laid down their lives in Laos have been conducted well. In the dry season of 2015-2016, 233 sets of the remains were repatriated to Vietnam.

Additionally, the two countries have boosted implementation of transportation connectivity projects within the framework of bilateral and sub-regional cooperation; signed a memorandum of understanding on strategy for transportation cooperation between the two governments in the 2016-2025 period, and vision to 2030; and continue to research and replicate the inspection model of “one door, one stop” at the shared border gates.

Regarding to education, Vietnam continued to grant 1,000 scholarships to Lao students and 60 scholarships vice versa, in the school year of 2015-2016. The first Vietnam University Education Exhibition was held in Vientiane in May 2016 by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training to attract more Lao students to study in Vietnam.

Cooperation on health has been strengthened, especially in border provinces.

Vietnam and Laos have also worked closely and supported each other at regional and international forums; continue to promote cooperation together with other ASEAN members to maintain solidarity and consensus on regional strategic issues.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visits to Cambodia and Laos reflect the respect of the Vietnamese government and people for the two neighboring countries. We strongly believe that the visits will be a success, contributing to significantly making the Vietnam – Cambodia friendship and comprehensive cooperation and Vietnam – Laos traditional bilateral friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation become more effective and practical.

Translated by Ngoc Hung