Vietnam and Malaysia enjoyed close ties even before they officially set up diplomatic relations on March 30, 1973. Over the past five decades, the bilateral relationship has been continuously reinforced and promoted across all fields from politics and diplomacy to defence and security, as well as economy and culture. This is especially the case since the Southeast Asian neighbours elevated their cooperation to a strategic partnership in 2015.
- Sound political-diplomatic relations
In terms of politics-diplomacy, the two sides regularly exchange delegations and high-level meetings through all channels of Party, Government, State, and people-to-people contacts. Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam and Malaysia still promoted their relations through telephone talks among their senior leaders.
The two countries have approved an action programme to implement their Strategic Partnership for the 2021-2025 period with major orientations, aiming to effectively exploit the potential and strengths of each country, thus recovering sustainable development together in the post-pandemic period.
During Malaysian PM Dato Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob’s visit to Vietnam last March, leaders of the two sides pledged to further deepen bilateral political and economic cooperation by increasing and maintaining high-level meetings and promoting the existing collaboration mechanisms, especially the Joint Committee on economic, science and technology cooperation and the Joint Committee on trade cooperation. They also agreed to coordinate in effectively implementing signed agreements, including the Action Programme to implement their Strategic Partnership for the 2021-2025 period.
Leaders of the two sides underlined the significance of the steady promotion of two-way trade to a balanced and sustainable direction, striving for the target of 18 billion USD in 2025. Vietnam and Malaysia also concurred to open their doors to each other’s goods, including agricultural and fisheries products, Halal products, processed food, and electronic accessories and finished products.
Meanwhile, the two countries have shown close coordination and conducted regular discussions and consultations at international and regional forums, thus reaching a consensus and sharing many common viewpoints within the ASEAN and between the ASEAN and its partners, contributing to enhancing the role and position of the association in the world arena.
* Growing economic-trade partnership
On the basis of firm political relations, economic and trade cooperation between Vietnam and Malaysia has continuously flourished. Malaysia has for many years been one of the biggest trade and investment partners of Vietnam.
Vietnam is currently the 11th largest trade partner and the seventh biggest export market of Malaysia. Two-way trade rose 25.3% in 2021 to 12.5 billion USD, and 14.8% in 2022 to 14.67 billion USD. The two sides expect 18 billion USD by 2025 and 25 billion USD by 2030.
In terms of investment, Malaysia is the third biggest investor in Vietnam among the ASEAN member countries. It ranked 10th out of the 142 countries and territories investing in Vietnam with 710 valid projects worth 13.08 billion USD as of February 2023. Malaysian investors have poured their money in many cities and provinces of Vietnam, mostly Ho Chi Minh City, Tra Vinh, and Hanoi. Meanwhile, Vietnam had also invested in 21 projects in Malaysia with a total investment of 853 million USD, ranking ninth among the 78 countries and territories that Vietnam is investing in as of March 2022.
Currently, many Malaysian businesses and investors are interested in Vietnam after realising great investment, cooperation and business opportunities in the market not only in the fields of economy and trade but also in tourism, people-to-people exchange, education, and labour. Malaysia is in need of workers and boasts a high cooperation potential in tourism and investment. Regarding cooperation in Halal food production, Malaysia, with its strength in developing standards, can help Vietnamese agricultural and aquatic products to produce Halal food to the standards of Muslim countries, enabling it to enter Malaysia and Muslim markets in the Middle East and other parts of the world.
Alongside, security-defence cooperation between the two countries has also been strengthened. The two sides have maintained exchanges of delegations at all levels while sharing experience and information on the prevention and the fight against terrorism, cybercrimes and transnational crimes. In 2015, they signed an agreement on cooperation in preventing and combating transnational crimes. In addition, bilateral cooperation in the fields of labour, education and tourism has also been fruitful.
It can be seen that over the past five decades, the Vietnam-Malaysia relations have been nurtured and promoted by generations of leaders of the two sides in both depth and width, benefiting both nations and for the sake of peace and stability in the region and the world./.