Home MOREBUSINESS & ECONOMY Opportunities for cooperation between Vietnam, ASEAN and the EU in response to new challenges in the Indo-Pacific

Opportunities for cooperation between Vietnam, ASEAN and the EU in response to new challenges in the Indo-Pacific

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The war in Ukraine has had a profound and lasting impact on international relations. The complicated situation of the war, together with the increasing threats and multifaceted competition among major powers, especially the US, Russia and China, makes the goal of becoming a global partner with the highest potential in the world of the European Union (EU) is affected.

This prompted European MPS to point out recently that the EU should consolidate and adjust its international commitments, especially with the Indo-Pacific strategic region.

Strengthening existing partnerships with countries and organizations in the Indo-Pacific region continues to be identified as a key objective of the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy, with a focus on cooperation on security and defense, counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, non-proliferation and disarmament, capacity-building, hybrid threats, maritime security and combating interference and disinformation, climate change.

ASEAN in EU Indo-Pacific Strategy

With partners in the Indo-Pacific region, the EU should underline that the Indo-Pacific region is very diverse, and that no one-size-fits-all approach can be applied; appreciate the holistic approach and positive agenda presented in the EU Strategy and highlights the need for the Strategy to constantly adapt to the rapidly changing power balance, while remaining firmly anchored in European values, principles and norms.

ASEAN countries are identified as partners with a central role in the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy. In the coming time, the EU could maintain and expand its presence in the region, in the immediate future: organizing the ASEAN Plus Defense Ministers Meeting and the East Asia Summit with the participation of the EU and ASEAN; establish the EU-ASEAN Parliamentary Council and organize the exchange of parliamentary delegations between the two sides more often and more frequently. The establishment of the EU-ASEAN Parliamentary Council is prioritized for implementation during the EU-ASEAN Summit to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of relations between the two regions in Brussels, scheduled to take place at the end of 2022.

Key partners in ASEAN

Among ASEAN countries, Vietnam has emerged as a country that has made great efforts to promote multilateralism in solving international issues. Vietnam is also one of the few developing countries to promote co-operation with the EU in many aspects at the same time. As soon as Vietnam and the European countries opened their doors after the covid-19 pandemic, Vietnam’s leaders have paid a series of visits to European countries.

Most recently, during a two-day visit to Switzerland (November 2021), Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, President of Vietnam, met with many multilateral organizations in Geneva and contributed to promoting international cooperation; promote Vietnam’s foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralisation, diversification, peace, friendship, cooperation and development.

And Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh during his 6-day visit to the United Kingdom and the French Republic (October 2021) made important commitments. Vietnam and France commit to strengthen the implementation of the partnership between the EU and Vietnam and the EU and ASEAN within the framework of the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy; reaffirming full respect for the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, as well as the peaceful settlement of disputes, excluding any use or threat to use force; affirming the importance of maintaining the safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in all seas and oceans, especially in the East Sea, on the basis of compliance with the principles of international law. At the COP26 Conference in Glasgow, Vietnam and 150 countries pledged to bring net emissions to “zero” by the middle of the century, especially with nearly 50 countries participating in the global declaration on converting coal power to green energy.

After the conference in Glasgow, the Government of Vietnam developed an overall roadmap to realize the outlined objectives. Localities in Vietnam are giving top incentives to welcome European businesses with advantages in Green technology and digital transformation to participate in building Green supply chains for international markets.

During his visit to the European Parliament (September 2021), President of the Vietnamese National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue affirmed that the EU is the most important partner in Vietnam’s foreign policy and international integration.

Vietnam and the EU are actively expanding political-diplomatic relations, security and defense, cooperation in multilateral forums; strengthening exchange of delegations and high-level contacts; maintaining exchange and cooperation mechanisms to effectively implement mutual commitments and agreements. In particular, the meetings of the Joint Committee and the Sub-Committees between Vietnam-EU, or the Defense-Security Dialogue mechanism, are contributing to deepening the Vietnam – EU political cooperation.

Previously, Vietnam and the EU have signed and effectively implemented many important cooperation agreements (PCA, EVFTA, FPA, FLEGT), maintaining cooperation mechanisms and periodic dialogues. The maintenance of regular and open dialogue mechanisms in the fields of politics, trade and sustainable development has contributed to guiding and promoting the achievements in the Vietnam – EU relations.

Notably, Vietnam’s exports to the EU have just set a new record in the first 5 months of 2022, with a trade surplus of 12,73 billion Euro, up nearly 47%, thanks to benefits from the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. Vietnam is currently the EU’s largest trading partner in the ASEAN and among the top 10 suppliers of goods for EU. Vietnam is an attractive destination with a market of more than 100 million people, of which 68% are of working age, providing an abundant source of young workers for the creative sector and manufacturing industries, especially the US and European companies that are restructuring the global supply chain.

To further promote relations between Vietnam and European countries, Mr. Hue will pay a visit to a number of European countries in late June 2022. Hue’s visit is an opportunity for European leaders and Vietnam to exchange and strengthen political trust, further increasing the effectiveness of Vietnam-EU cooperation in international and regional issues.

Opening statement by Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner, on the EU and the security challenges in the Indo-Pacific, extract from the plenary session of the EP


Closing statement by Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner, on the EU and the security challenges in the Indo-Pacific, extract from the plenary session of the EP


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