Fifty years of relations, Vietnam and Italy lift strategic partnership to new heights

Deputy Foreign Minister Ha Kim Ngoc and his Italian counterpart Manlio Di Stefano co-chair the consultation. Photo: VNA

On this day 50 years ago (March 23, 1973) when Vietnam was still struggling for national liberation and reunification, Italy officially established diplomatic ties with the Southeast Asian nation.

Over the past five decades, bilateral relations have grown intensively and extensively across spheres.

Italy has actively supported the enhancement of cooperation between Vietnam and the European Union (EU) at big international forums, and the normalisation of relations between Vietnam and international financial, trade, and monetary organisations.

Italy is always resolved to promote its multi-faceted cooperation with Vietnam and regards the country as a priority in relationship development in Southeast Asia, as well as a destination for Italian firms.

At multilateral forums, the two countries have frequently coordinated and supported each other and raised voices to promote peace, stability, security, and freedom of navigation and aviation, and respect for international law.

President Giorgio Napolitano and Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong (L) on January 21, 2013. Photo: VNA

January 21, 2013, marked a milestone as the two countries signed a joint statement on the establishment of the strategic partnership on the occasion of the official visit to Italy by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.

The strong political commitments by their high-ranking leaders have created a premise for bilateral relations to enter a new period and grow more intensive and extensive.

Within the framework of the commemorative summit celebrating the 45th founding anniversary of the ASEAN-EU relations in December 2022, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh had a meeting with his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni.

Chinh affirmed that Vietnam attaches due importance to its relations with Italy – an important member of the EU and G7, and a leading important economic and development partner of Vietnam in Europe.

He suggested the two sides utilise cooperation opportunities generated by the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), striving to raise the bilateral trade to 7 billion USD in the next two to three years.

Over the past years, the trade and investment links have remained a bright spot in the Vietnam-Italy relationship thanks to the support from the two governments, with the bilateral trade now doubling from 2010.

Vietnam is Italy’s biggest trade partner in ASEAN, while Italy is the fourth largest EU trade partner of Vietnam.

Vietnam is also one of the 10 emerging markets included in the Italian government’s priorities in promoting trade and investment ties. Particularly, the EVFTA, which was put in place more than two years ago, has opened up a “new horizon” for development cooperation between the two countries.

Despite uncertainties and difficulties in 2021, the trade revenue still reached 5.6 billion USD, up 21% year-on-year. It hit a record of 6.2 billion USD in 2022, a rise of 11% from the previous year.

For investment, as of February 2023, Italy ran 141 valid projects in Vietnam with a total registered capital of 453.3 million USD, ranking 34 out of 142 countries and territories investing in Vietnam, and ninth among the 25 EU investors in the country.

Many big Italian groups operate successfully in Vietnam, with the largest specialising in manufacturing such as Bonfiglioli, Piaggio, Danieli Officina, Fiat Iveco, Datalogic, and Ariston.

Italy has also maintained its official development assistance (ODA) to Vietnam, focusing on vocational training, personnel development, environmental protection, and water resources management, support to small and medium-sized enterprises, health care, and scientific research.

Partnerships in culture, education, health care, science-technology, tourism, and people-to-people exchange, and other fields have also made strides. During the COVID-19 fight, Vietnam presented more than 300,000 masks to Italy, while Italy helped the Southeast Asian nation with 2.8 million doses of vaccines.

Cultural week and month events have been held frequently in both countries. In 2019, they inked an action plan on educational cooperation for 2019-2022 which focuses on language development and scholarship granting.

Since its inception in November 1998, the Vietnam-Italy Joint Commission on Scientific-Technological Cooperation has convened seven sessions and approved seven cooperation programmes with more than 90 research projects signed and rolled out.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ha Kim Ngoc (L) and his Italian counterpart Manlio Di Stefano. Photo: VNA

The year 2023 is of significance as it marks the 50th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic ties, and 10 years since the establishment of the strategic partnership.

The two countries have joined hands in organising celebration activities, demonstrating the importance they attach to a good friendship.

The celebrations offer opportunities for the two countries to review developments of the traditional friendship while enhancing mutual understanding, looking towards the future with many greater, brighter cooperation prospects, through promoting Italy’s image in Vietnam and vice versa./.

The Vietnam News Agency (VNA) and the National Associated Press Agency of Italy (ANSA) sign a professional cooperation agreement at a ceremony held online in Hanoi on February 20. Photo: VNA