Growing political - diplomatic relations

Since Vietnam and Italy set up their diplomatic relations on March 23, 1973, the two countries have enjoyed a rapidly growing political relationship.

Particularly, since they lifted their ties to a strategic partnership in January, 2013, the two sides have actively promoted their substantial and effective cooperation in all fields, from politics, diplomacy to economy, science, education, defense-security, environmental protection, and locality-to-locality collaboration.

Vietnam and Italy sign a joint statement on the establishment of bilateral strategic partnership on January 21, 2013 during Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong's official visit to Italy

Vietnam and Italy have maintained many bilateral cooperation mechanisms such as the annual strategic dialogue at the deputy foreign ministerial level and the defense policy dialogue at the deputy ministerial level, as well as the Joint Committee on Economic Cooperation and Joint Committee on Science and Technology Cooperation.

High-level delegation exchanges and meetings between the two countries have been maintained. Most recently, in December 2022, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh met with his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni on the sidelines of the ASEAN - E.U. Summit in Brussels.

During the meeting, PM Pham Minh Chinh affirmed that Vietnam highly values the relations with Italy, an important member of the E.U. and G7 as well as one of the leading economic and development partners of Vietnam in the E.U. He suggested that the two sides make full use of opportunities from the E.U. - Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) to raise two-way trade to 7 billion USD in the next 2-3 years.

During the COVID-19 pandemic period, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh had an online conversation in May 2020, while PM Pham Minh Chinh and his counterpart Mario Draghi also met online in April 2022.

In high-level talks, Italy always affirmed its determination to promote all-round ties with Vietnam, considering Vietnam as a priority for developing ties in the Southeast Asian region.

In terms of defense cooperation, right after the establishment of their strategic partnership, the two Ministries of Defense signed a memorandum of understanding in this field, marking a new step forward and creating a framework for bilateral defense ties. Over the years, the two countries have promoted their partnership in all three aspects of defense policy, military, and defense industry.

Italy pledged to transfer the technology to manufacture military and civil vessels to Vietnam and to share its experience in U.N. peacekeeping operations.

The two countries have also been working together in programs to train police officers, preserve heritage, and responding to climate change.

They have completed negotiations on the Agreement on Extradition and Transfer of Convicted Persons (2022), and the Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance (2022).

The two sides have also coordinated with and support each other at multilateral forums, while contributing their positive voice in ensuring peace, stability, maritime and aviation security and freedom and respecting international law.

Trade-investment cooperation remains bright spot

In recent years, trade and investment cooperation has been a bright spot in the bilateral relations thanks to joint efforts of both sides.

Since 2010, two-way trade has doubled. Vietnam has been the largest trade partner of Italy among the ASEAN countries, while Italy is the third biggest partner of Vietnam among the E.U. members.

Two-way trade rose 21% in 2021 to 5.6 billion USD in 2021, and 11% in 2022 to 6.2 billion USD. The figure hit 3.1 billion USD in the first half of this year.

Vietnam remains one of the 10 emerging countries prioritized for trade and investment cooperation development by Italy until 2030. The two countries have created favorable conditions for businesses of each other to cooperate in areas of Italy’s strength and Vietnam’s demand such as mechanical engineering, infrastructure, garment and textiles, footwear, wood processing, supporting industries, building materials, oil and gas, renewable energy, and food processing.

Vietnam and Italy share interest in many areas such as climate change, infrastructure, agriculture, food security, and human resources development.

In recent meetings, Vietnam asked Italy to ratify the E.U. - Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement, support the removal of the E.C.’s “yellow card” on Vietnamese seafood export, and create a firm legal foundation and a favorable business and investment environment for the business communities of the two countries.

In terms of investment, as of June 2023, Italy had run 147 valid projects worth 472.83 million USD in Vietnam, ranking 36 out of the 141 countries and territories investing in the country.

Many large-scale firms of Italy have actively operated in Vietnam, mostly in the manufacturing sector. They include Bonfiglioli, Piaggio, Danieli Officina, Fiat Iveco, Datalogic, and Ariston. Particularly, Danieli's steelmaking equipment has been used in over 10 projects in Vietnam, including Vietnam - Italy steel factory and Phu My steel factory.

Regarding development cooperation, Italy has continued to provide ODA to Vietnam, focusing on areas of vocational training and human resources development, environmental protection and water resource management, small- and medium-sized enterprise support, health care, and scientific research.

Promoting partnership in culture, education, science-technology, tourism

In terms of culture, the two sides have regularly organized cultural weeks and months in Italy and Vietnam on special occasions.

Between 2003 and 2013, the Italian Government coordinated with UNESCO to support Vietnam in restoring the My Son relic site at a total cost of 1.5 million USD. Vietnam licensed the establishment of the Italian House in Hanoi in 2019 and the Italian Cultural Institute in the city in 2022.

Various cultural activities have also been organized between the two countries in 2023.

In terms of healthcare collaboration, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam provided Italy with more than 300,000 masks and Italy supplied 2.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Vietnam.

Regarding education-training cooperation, the action program on bilateral education cooperation in the 2019-2022 period focused on developing language collaboration, with the Italian side providing teaching equipment and scholarships to Vietnam. The two sides have encouraged universities and education facilities to cooperate with each other, while Italy has provided 1.27 million EUR (1.40 million USD) to the Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy to enhance its training and research capacity.

The two sides organized a Vietnam - Italy education forum in 2014, and plan to hold the third edition of the event in 2023.

The Joint Committee on Science and Technology Cooperation was formed in November 1998 with seven meetings held. The two sides approved seven cooperation programs on science and technology cooperation with more than 90 joint projects.

In 2023, leaders of the Ministry of Science and Technology plan to visit Italy and co-chair the eighth meeting of the Joint Committee on Science and Technology.

In the 2021-2023 period, the two sides have implemented 11 joint projects in different areas.

As for tourism, the number of Italian visitors to Vietnam increased about 15% each year in the 2015-2019 period.

In 2019, Vietnam welcomed 70.8 million Italian tourists.

In terms of local cooperation, currently 10 twinning relationships have been set up among localities of both sides.

Currently, about 50,000 Vietnamese people are living and working in Italy.

According to Vietnamese Ambassador to Italy Duong Hai Hung, 2023 is an important year in the Vietnam - Italy relations as the two sides are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic ties and 10 years of the Vietnam - Italy strategic partnership.

President Vo Van Thuong’s visit is taking place in the context that the friendship and strategic partnership between the two countries are developing best ever in all fields both bilaterally and multilaterally, he said.

Source: VNA