Diplomatic relations between the UAE and Vietnam were established since 1993. But in fact, friendship and cooperation between the UAE and Vietnam had been established for a long time. The leaders and people of the two countries have always supported each other in their struggle for national independence and development of its economy. The UAE is Vietnam’s important partner in the Middle East. Vietnam also can be a gateway for the UAE to the South East Asia. Political relationship between Vietnam and the UAE has been developed well, which has laid a firm foundation for diversified cooperations and relations between the two countries.
Vietnam opened its Consulate in Dubai in October 1997 and its Trade Centre in Dubai in July 2004. The opening of Vietnam embassy in Abu Dhabi in January 2008 and the opening of UAE embassy in Hanoi in November 2008 reflected the two countries’ government and people’s wish to strengthen friendship and cooperation with each other.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, a large number of official visits between the two countries were made by high ranking delegations. Notably, the first historical visit to the Vietnam in 2007 H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum - UAE Vice President, Prime Minister as well as the official visit to UAE in 2009 by H.E Nguyen Tan Dung - Vietnam Prime Minister was of great significance, followed by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan - UAE Foreign Minister’s recent trip to Vietnam and the two working visits to UAE in 2011 by Vietnam Minister for Planning and Investment and Vietnam Deputy Foreign Minister in 2010 reflects huge potential for partnership between the two countries. Especially, the successful outcome of the first session of the UAE-Vietnam Joint Committee for Cooperation recently co-chaired by H.E Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri - UAE Minister of Economy in Hanoi, has opened wider horizons of joint trade and investment as well as to develop further bilateral cooperation, especially in the field of infrastructure development, agriculture, energy, real estate, tourism and manpower to achieve common interests.
As a result of the high ranking visits, important agreements and MoU were signed between the two countries, inclusive of Agreement on Investment Promotion and Protection; Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation; Agreement on Aviation Cooperation; Agreement on the Establishment of Joint Committee; Agreement on the Cooperation between the two Ministries of Foreign Affairs; Agreement on Visa Exemption for diplomatic, official and special passport holders; Agreement of Cooperation between the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as MoU of labour recruitment.
These agreements and MoU have been considered as legal basis for further cooperations and relations. Actually, the bilateral trade and commerce relations between UAE and Vietnam in recent years have been expanded dramatically in various fields. The bilateral trade increased from US$67 million in 2002 to US$250 million in 2006, about US$390 million in 2007 and nearly US$550 million in 2008. In 2009, despite the global slowdown, two-way trade increased strongly comparing to the previous years and reached around US$800 million of which Vietnam exported more than US$600 million to the UAE. In 2010, UAE has been acknowledged as Vietnam’s second largest export market in the Middle East with its imports value of US$508 million.
Vietnam’s main export items to the UAE are computer, electronics and accessories, machinery, equipment, spare parts and accessories, seafood, rice, tea, coffee, pepper, garments and textiles. While LPG, fertilizer, plastic materials and oil related products, automobiles and automobile spare parts are Vietnam’s leading goods imported from the UAE in recent years.
Since the official visits, there are many prestigious groups from the UAE such as DP World, IPIC, Emirates Investment Gate, Mubadala, Borouge, Sama Dubai, Dubai Holdings, Limitless, Tamouh and others are looking at Vietnam as an ideal destination for their international investment portfolios. So far, UAE is considered as one of big foreign investor in Vietnam with total capital of investment projects amounting US$ 3 billion.
Meanwhile, number of Vietnamese investors is on the rises who look for investment and business development opportunities in the UAE. Vietnamese businesses are planning to open Vietnamese commercial centres likely in Dubai or Sharjah, and these centres are expected to be a new bridge for Vietnamese enterprises to penetrate the UAE markets in particular and other places in the Gulf region and Africa in general.
Currently, more than 20,000 Vietnamese people are now living and working in UAE and highly appreciated by the UAE government for their qualification, hard work and discipline. This number is expected to increase in the near future, making the UAE become a key destination for Vietnamese products and skilled labors.
There are many potential opportunities for the two countries to boost its experience exchange and cooperation on technology, techniques, science, education, training, tourism. Such cooperations will bring practical benefit for the two countries, helping them to overcome the negative effects of the current global economic crisis as well as challenges arising from globalisation.