Vietnam on track for recovery, committed to improving business climate: Foreign Minister

Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan welcoming Vietnam President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to Singapore on Feb 24, 2022. PHOTO: VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN/FACEBOOK

BANGKOK - The Covid-19 pandemic may have wreaked havoc on global manufacturing but Vietnam's production, business and supply chains are well on track for recovery, Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son said on Wednesday (Feb 23).

Vietnam is adopting "flexible solutions to adapt to the restructuring of the regional and global production network", he told The Straits Times in an e-mail interview on the eve of President Nguyen Xuan Phuc's three-day visit to Singapore starting on Thursday.

Apart from inoculating its population, the government has focused on helping workers resume their jobs, supporting businesses in coordinating production and lowering costs, he said. Currently, more than 78 per cent of Vietnam's population is fully vaccinated.

Among other green shoots, the country's export turnover grew by 19 per cent in 2021, while foreign direct investment inflow rose to more than US$31 billion (S$42 billion). Its economy registered a growth of over 5 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.

Vietnam is working hard to implement a slew of free trade pacts that it has signed, including the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"We are fully confident that President Nguyen Xuan Phuc's visit to Singapore will help Singaporean and international businesses better understand Vietnam's strong commitment to promoting socio-economic recovery and growth in the new normal," Mr Son said.

"Vietnam will continue to improve its business and investment climate, facilitate more cooperation between the two sides' business communities in areas of mutual interest, especially the research, application and transfer of high technology, innovation, and the digital and green economy, in order to together contribute to the sustainable development in both countries and the region alike."

The pandemic, despite shutting borders for some time, has not dented Vietnam-Singapore cooperation, he noted. Singapore remains one of Vietnam's top investors, having committed nearly US$11 billion last year.

During his time in the Republic, Mr Phuc will discuss with Singapore's leaders over how to tighten cooperation in areas like trade, technology and education.

"The two sides' leaders will also discuss measures to promote cooperation at regional and international forums in order to maintain Asean solidarity, voice and centrality against a turbulent global landscape today," Mr Son said.

Like much of the region, Vietnam is currently experiencing a surge of Covid-19 infections fuelled by the Omicron variant. On Wednesday evening, it logged 60,338 domestic cases and 91 deaths over the past 24 hours.

The country has not backed off from its plan to fully reopen to international tourists from March 15. Specific guidelines for visitors will be released soon. A trial run for vaccinated travellers on package tours has attracted 10,000 foreign tourists so far.

Along with the gradual resumption of international commercial flights, Singapore and Vietnam have recently agreed to recognise each other's vaccine credentials, Mr Son noted.

"We hope that the two countries will work together to facilitate each country's nationals to travel to the other to pursue education, work, healthcare and tourism, promote trade and investment, and strengthen cooperation in containing Covid-19," he said.

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