According to the ambassador, thanks to Vietnamese government’s decisive vaccination campaign, people in Vietnam were able to safely shift and eventually regain their pre-pandemic routine.

Philippine Ambassador to Vietnam Meynardo Los Banos Montealegre

“I am also impressed with the vibrant activities of various government agencies in Vietnam. Programs and projects that were held in abeyance for the past two years were relaunched with much vigor and enthusiasm from government officials and employees and even the participating public,” he said.

Montealegre pointed out that there are many challenges in the international arena including supply chain disruptions, low demand, high cost of energy and fuel, and the threat of resurgence of the COVID-19 virus is still present. All of these factors affected not only Vietnam but also other countries. Hence, while the prospects for economic growth are vast, the current conditions also pose challenges to sustaining economic development, he said.

According to the Ambassador, Vietnam - Philippines economic relations have thrived even at the height of the pandemic, as evidenced by the steady growth of their total bilateral trade, which reached 5.8 billion USD in 2021, and 3.12 billion USD as of June this year.

He said the Philippines hope to work with Vietnam in achieving greater balance in the two-way trade between the two countries.

As Vietnam and the Philippines targeted to reach bilateral trade of 10 billion USD by 2026, according to Montealegre, both sides should also review, at the working group level, the procedures currently being implemented to ensure smoother and better trade relations.

The diplomat affirmed that Vietnam continues to be the Philippines’ top and trusted source of imported rice. Two-way trade between the two countries could also be further improved in terms of various electronics, semiconductors, equipment and parts, he said, adding that there are also unexplored possibilities in terms of trade in consumer goods and food processing.

“We would also like to see more Philippine companies and brands have a bigger presence in the country,” he said, adding that trade missions on both sides should be conducted more frequently to provide better opportunities for both Philippine and Vietnamese manufacturers and importers to meet and discuss potential trade deals.

The Ambassador said that for 2023, the Philippines look forward to having exchanges of more high-level visits between Vietnam and the Philippines, as well as the resumption of bilateral consultation mechanisms and working group discussions that were postponed for the past two years.

“These dialogue mechanisms are important to ensure that we maintain a healthy diplomatic relationship, which is a primordial consideration for the Philippines considering our strategic partnership with Vietnam,” he affirmed.

Talking about Vietnam’s traditional lunar New Year festival, the ambassador said that of all the Vietnamese occasions, the Tet or lunar New Year has been most striking for him because of the deep importance of this holiday to the Vietnamese.

It reflects the value of family and friends, of tradition and culture as still being center to every Vietnamese individual despite the aspiration of Vietnam to be a modern society.

Like Christmas, the Tet holiday is the occasion for everyone in Vietnam to reflect and appreciate life for the past year, value the inspiration and sacrifices of their ancestors, their families and friends throughout the years, and to be revitalized and inspired to start a new and strive for a better year, Montealegre said.

Source: VNA