Israel, a country on the Eastern bank of the Mediterranean Sea, is a parliamentary republic. It has diplomatic relations with about 170 countries in the world and memberships of a number of international organizations, such as UN, FOA and WTO.

 President Tran Dai Quang (r) receiving Israel President Reuven R. Rivlin. Photo: VNA

Although Israel is seen as a country with poor natural resources and arid soil, it still has a developed economy with a relatively high growth rate, thanks to its efficient application of high technologies to agriculture, industry and other economic sectors. In fact, Israel is ranked 25th among countries with high per-head incomes in the world. Especially, Israel tops the world in terms of agricultural productivity and quality of produce while its hi-tech-based industry focuses on producing exports, which account for about 90% of its total export value. Israel also has the second largest number of information technology (IT) companies, only after the USA.

Vietnam and Israel established diplomatic relations on July 12, 1973. Vietnam opened its Embassy in Tel Aviv in May 2009 while Israel started running its Embassy in Hanoi from December 1993.

Recently, bilateral relations between Vietnam and Israel have seen many positive developments. The two sides continuously exchanged visits of high-level delegations, such as Israel visits of Vietnamese Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan in October 2014, of Vietnamese Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang in November 2014, of Head of the Economic Commission of the Party Central Committee of Vietnam Vuong Dinh Hue in June 2015, of Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai in November 2015, and of Vietnamese Minister of Public Security To Lam in November 2016; and Vietnam visits of Israeli President Shimon Peres in November 2011, and of Israeli Minister of Public Security Y. Aharonovitch in February 2014. 

Bilateral cooperation between the two countries on defense and security, economics, trade, investment, science and technology, agriculture, and education and training is rapidly expanding and has brought about practical fruitful results to both sides.

The two countries have signed a number of agreements on various areas, contributing to fostering bilateral relations and cooperation. These include the memorandum of understanding on economic, scientific, technological, agricultural and trade cooperation in 1996, the protocol on financial cooperation in 2007, the agreement on visa exemption from diplomatic passport holders in 2009, the agreement on avoidance of double taxation and income and property tax evasion in 2009, the protocol on the establishment of the Vietnam-Israel Inter-governmental Committee in 2013, and the memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the two ministries of foreign affairs in 2015.

Israel recognized Vietnam as a full market economy on May 29, 2016. At this point, the two sides are negotiating an agreement on free trade area (VIFTA).

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Israel reached US$ 1.237 billion in 2016, down from US$ 1.695 billion in 2015 due to economic difficulties in both countries. Major Vietnamese exports to Israel include mobile phones, spare parts, footwear, coffee, cashew nuts, garment and aquatic products while importing from Israel machinery, hi-tech equipment and fertilizers.

In terms of investment, Israel is now running 25 projects with total registered capital of US$ 46.37 million, ranked 56th among the 116 foreign investors in Vietnam.

Besides, Israel supports Vietnam in rural development, agriculture, and education and training. The Israeli side provided technical support and non-refundable aid of over US$ 1 million for a demo and experimental milk cow raising project in Ho Chi Minh City, which started operation in August 2013. What is more, Israel supported Vietnam in implementing a number of projects on husbandry, tillage and irrigation in many localities.

Since 2008, Israel has provided scholarships for 2,130 Vietnamese apprentices to study and practice agricultural subjects in Israeli farms for a year, and since 2010, Israel has also received 1,400 Vietnamese farmers working in Israeli farms for 5 years.

The State visit to Vietnam of Israeli President Reuven R. Rivlin aims to seek measures to boost bilateral cooperation between Israel and Vietnam on various areas.

The Vietnamese people strongly believe that the Vietnam visit of the Israeli President and his spouse will be successful, making new developments in the Vietnam-Israel friendly relationship for benefits of the two nations and for peace and stability in the region and world.

Written by PAN’s Editorial Board

Translated by Thu Nguyen