Six decades after the establishment of diplomatic ties, the traditional friendship and partnership between Vietnam and Mongolia continues to thrive as a result of the relentless pursuit of opportunities for advancement by its leaders and citizens.
“We have finished the hard part of normalizing relations and must now focus on using our emerging partnership to advance great common causes,” Ambassador to Mongolia Phan Dang Duong added during an interview granted to VOV recently.
Following are key excerpts from the interview:
VOV: This year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties. What is the status of progress in bilateral cooperative relations?
Ambassador Duong: Vietnam and Mongolia officially established diplomatic ties on November 17, 1954.
|Ambassador Phan Dang Duong (right) and Poet Tran Dang Khoa |
From 1954 to 1990, those ties developed strongly in the fields of politics, economics, culture, education and training. The two sides maintained regular high-ranking exchanges, exemplified by late President Ho Chi Minh's visit to Mongolia in September 1955.
During this period, in 1961 and 1979 to be more precise, the two countries signed friendship and cooperation treaties. Most importantly, Mongolia provided significant support for Vietnam's struggle for national independence and freedom.
From 1990 to 1994, relations were severely strained as a result of changes in the region and world. However, they began to mend starting in 1994 and have been on a steady uphill trend ever since.
During Mongolian President P. Ochirbat's visit to Vietnam in March 1994, the two countries signed a joint statement, highlighting basic principles in bilateral relations in line with the new situation.
The two sides signed a friendship and cooperation treaty for the third time, lifting the cooperative ties to a greater height during State President Tran Duc Luong's visit to Mongolia in April 2000.
At a visit to Vietnam in November 2013 by Mongolian President Ts. Elbegdorj, leaders from both countries pledged to consolidate and enhance bilateral ties in all fields for mutual benefit, contributing to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world.
VOV: Economic cooperation between the two countries does not live up to its full potential. What are the primary obstacles hindering economic expansion?
Ambassador Duong: Recently, despite great effort, economic and trade ties have remained relatively modest and not matched with their fullest potential. Annual average two-way trade turnover only hit around US$16-18 million.
Mongolia is a small market with 3 million consumers. Geographical difficulties in transport, high transportation costs, and lack of information about both sides' businesses are the main obstacles constraining economic expansion.
The lack of an agreement and regulations dealing directly with food safety and animal and plant health are also holding back trade. Getting an Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) consistent with WTO guidelines needs to be fast tracked.
To iron out snags, the following measures should be given effect. First, businesses from both sides should thoroughly study markets via exchange visits, seminars, conferences and trade and investment fairs.
In addition to accelerating signing railway cooperation agreements among Vietnam, China and Mongolia, the opening of direct flights between Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City and Ulaanbaatar should be prioritised.
Finally, a programme exempting short term visitors from the requirement to obtain a visa should be considered in order to promote tourism and economic cooperation.
VOV: What fields should Vietnam and Mongolia focus on in enhancing cooperation?
Ambassador Duong: There is a huge potential for promoting bilateral cooperation. Vietnam is strong in exporting farm produce like rice, coffee, fresh fruits, seafood and garment while Mongolia has huge potential for exporting frozen meat, leather products and coke.
With 90 million people, Vietnam is a potential tourism market of Mongolia as many Vietnamese people want to explore the country. Vice versa, due to cold winter and no sea, Mongolian people want to visit Vietnam to enjoy warm weather.
The two countries can boost cooperation in following fields:
First, they should maintain high-ranking exchange visits to enhance mutual understanding, share experience and closely coordinate at regional and international forums for mutual benefit.
Second, they should foster cooperation in agriculture, particularly producing veterinary medicine. Currently, Mongolia has 60 million head of cattle so it has high demand for veterinary medicine.
|Pupils at Ho Chi Minh School in Ulaanbaatar |
Further, they should fast track all signed agreements on consumption of farm produce and food. In addition to traditional products, Vietnam should consider promoting cooperation with Mongolia in mining which is developing strongly in Mongolia, accounting for 90% of the country's exports value.
Third, Vietnam can promote cooperation with Mongolia in tourism, labour, culture, education and science and technology to exploit available potential.
Mongolia is experiencing a shortage of both skilled and normal workers in infrastructure, food processing and mining.
Around 700 Vietnamese citizens are working and living in Mongolia, however, most of them work at automobile servicing workshops. Signing a cooperative agreement on labour will open a whole new opportunity for Vietnamese workers to access the market.
Moreover, the two countries should maintain and consolidate cooperation in culture, education, and science and technology through exchanging cultural and arts troupes, students and researchers to promote mutual understanding.
Communications agencies, such as radio and television stations and press from two countries should foster cooperation as this is an important channel to introduce land and people.
The two Governments should create favourable conditions for ministries to sign cooperative agreements, helping speed up economic and trade development.
Finally, the two countries should maintain regular meetings of Inter-Governmental Committees on economic, trade, science and technology cooperation to review implementation work.
VOV: Thank you very much.
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