Important milestones in Vietnam-Brunei relations

Vietnam and Brunei have made new strides in their relationship since the establishment of a comprehensive partnership on the occasion of the State visit to Vietnam by the Sultan of Brunei in March 2019.

The two countries established diplomatic relations in February 1992. In June 2000, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of a Bilateral Cooperation Committee.

In November 2001, they signed cooperation agreements on maritime and trade, and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on tourism cooperation.

An MoU on cooperation between the two defence ministries was signed during a Vietnam visit by the Brunei Deputy Defence Minister in November 2005.

The two countries inked memoranda of understanding on cooperation in sports and youth affairs, and oil and gas, along with an agreement on double taxation avoidance during Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s Brunei visit in August 2007.

Since August 1, 2007, Brunei has waived visa requirements for Vietnamese ordinary passport holders for 14 days and since August 8, 2007, Vietnam has offered visa exemption to Brunei ordinary passport holders for a two-week stay.

In 2013, they successfully piloted a wet rice farming project in Brunei to help the country ensure food security.

In October 2014, Brunei national flag carrier – Royal Brunei Airlines – officially launched a direct flight service linking Ho Chi Minh City and Bandar Seri Begawan capital. Since then, Vietnam has become a favourite tourist destination for Brunei people, bringing the two countries closer.

A corner of Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo: VNA)

In April 2017, a working delegation from the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development visited and held a working session with the Brunei Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources to launch agreements on cooperation in agriculture, seafood processing, and fishing in Brunei’s exclusive economic zone.

Vietnam and Brunei signed an agreement to accelerate the establishment of a hotline dealing with emerging issues relating to fisheries and fishermen in April 2017. (Photo: VNA)

Also in 2017, the two countries held activities celebrating the 25th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties. Events included the first meeting of the Vietnam-Brunei Bilateral Cooperation Committee which was co-chaired by Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and Brunei Minister at the PM’s Office and Second Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade Lim Jock Seng.

They outlined measures to strengthen cooperation in economy-trade-investment, defence-security, oil and gas, agriculture and fisheries, culture-tourism, education-training, and labour.

At the first meeting of the Vietnam-Brunei Bilateral Cooperation Committee in 2017. (Photo: VNA)

On the occasion of the State visit to Vietnam by Sultan of Brunei Haji Hassanal Bolkiah from March 26-28, 2019, Vietnam and Brunei issued a joint statement on the establishment of Vietnam-Brunei comprehensive partnership.

Then President Nguyen Phu Trong (R) and Sultan Darussalam Haji Hassanal Bolkiah. (Photo: VNA)

The two countries’ leaders witnessed the signing of an MoU on the use of a hotline to share information about tackling illegal, unreported, and undocumented (IUU) fishing between the Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and Brunei Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism. Both sides agreed to further cement maritime cooperation, including aquaculture and seafood processing, sharing experience and information about law enforcement at sea, and jointly coping with security challenges at sea to ensure maritime safety and freedom.

They consented to promote a balanced and sustainable two-way trade, towards the goal of 500 million USD by 2025. They also agreed to make the most of market access incentives in line with free trade agreements, including promising markets in Brunei–Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) and the Mekong Sub-region, as well as create favourable conditions for businesses, promote linkages between their enterprises, join trade fairs and promptly deal with business problems for the benefit of both sides. They committed to close cooperation in agriculture, especially in poultry meat, rice, fresh vegetables and fruits, fisheries, technical capacity and Halal certification for firms meeting international standards to produce food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals for export to Islamic markets globally.

In 2021, the two countries pushed forward yearly priority goals, especially response to COVID-19, implementation of the ASEAN Charter, building post-2025 ASEAN Community Vision, and promoting ASEAN’s role in sub-regional cooperation.

In 2022, Vietnam and Brunei are celebrating the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties.

At the invitation of Second Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brunei Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son paid an official visit to Brunei and co-chaired the second meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) in Bandar Seri Begawan from September 6-8.

Second Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brunei Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof (R) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son. (Photo: VNA)

During the meeting, the two sides agreed to accelerate the building of an action programme implementing the comprehensive partnership for 2023-2027. They also agreed to arrange visits by leaders, materialise signed agreements, extend the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on agriculture and fishery. The two sides vowed to coordinate to cope with traditional and non-traditional security challenges, including trans-national crime, cybercrime and terrorism. They will also step up negotiations of cooperation documents in such areas as the transfer of sentenced persons and crime combat.

The two sides will encourage their businesses to step up connectivity, diversify supply sources and trade structure, and seek investment opportunities, especially in potential areas like agriculture-fishery, forestry, energy-oil-gas and processing industry, contributing to ensuring food security and production chain.

To promote more balanced trade, Son suggested Brunei facilitate the entry of Vietnamese goods, especially rice and agricultural and aquatic products that meet Halal standards, into the market.

At the second meeting of the Vietnam-Brunei Bilateral Cooperation Committee. (Photo: The World & Vietnam Report)

The Vietnamese minister expressed his hope that Brunei will early ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), contributing to creating new cooperation opportunities between the two countries.

The two ministers also consented to step up cooperation in education and people-to-people exchange via sport, cultural, youth and women’s exchanges and within the framework of ASEAN, diversify tourism products and encourage carriers to consider opening more direct air routes, and promote cooperation between universities.

Exchanging viewpoints on regional and global issues of mutual concern, the ministers highly appreciated the close and effective coordination between the two countries over the past time at regional and international forums, especially in ASEAN and the United Nations, helping to strengthen the solidarity and central role of ASEAN, as well as maintain peace and stability, and promote cooperation in the region and the world.

They agreed to continue working closely with each other to promote ASEAN’s common principles and stances on relations with partners, as well as in the Myanmar and East Sea issues. They also agreed to step up the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and coordinate in negotiations on an effective and efficient Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in accordance with international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Meeting Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Son expressed his wish that the Sultan would continue paying attention to Vietnam-Brunei comprehensive partnership. He said it is important to soon resume all-level visits after the pandemic, promote a more balanced trade growth in the direction of reducing trade deficit for Vietnam. These include creating favourable conditions for Vietnamese goods, especially rice and agricultural and aquatic products meeting Halal requirements, to enter the Brunei market. Together, the two countries must encourage businesses to expand investment, open direct flight services and facilitate economic development, culture, tourism and people-to-people exchange.

Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah received Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son (L) on September 7, 2022. (Photo: VNA)

The host vowed to direct Brunei ministries and agencies to work closely with Vietnam to realise results of the JCBC-2 and carry forward bilateral comprehensive partnership in a more effective and practical manner, thus bringing benefits to the two peoples./.