Vietnamese Ambassador to South Africa, Hoang Sy Cuong has commended the "bilateral bonds" between his country and South Africa, which have blossomed over the past three decades.
Cuong made the remarks at an auspicious occasion in Pretoria on the occasion of the Vice President of State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan’s official visit to South Africa, where she was hosted by Deputy President Paul Mashatile.
"For the last three decades of diplomatic relations, the two countries have made tireless efforts to tighten bilateral bonds, bringing about incredible results in many fields. Vietnam and South Africa have nurtured strong friendship, solidarity, and cooperation in all areas. Vietnam and South Africa are each other’s leading partners in Southeast Asia and Africa, respectively," said Cuong at the event, which was also the 78th National Day of Vietnam.
"While we are gratified by our fruitful relations, we are aware of enormous potentials for and committed to a stronger multi-faceted relationship at all levels and channels. We must push up the bilateral trade exchange, market access, and more investment from each other.
"The official visit by HE Vice President of the State of Vietnam Madam Vo Thi Anh Xuan, to South Africa at the invitation of Deputy President Paul Mashatile is a vivid example of this commitment, an important milestone, and a huge impetus for a new height of cooperation between the two countries," he said.
He highlighted that the fraternal relations between the people of Vietnam and South Africa have a long history, from the meeting between the representatives of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the African National Congress (ANC) in 1955 on the occasion of the Bangdung Conference in Indonesia to the milestone visit to Vietnam by the ANC’s late president Oliver Reginald Tambo in 1978.
He said Vietnam "highly appreciates" South Africa’s role and its efforts and contribution to peace, stability, and a better life for people in Africa and around the world.
"On this occasion, once again, allow me, on behalf of Vietnam, to congratulate the government and people of South Africa for successfully hosting the historic 15th BRICS Summit. And we thank the government of the Republic of South Africa for inviting Vietnam to attend the BRICS-Africa Outreach and BRICS Plus Dialogue," said Cuong.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to express our delight with South Africa’s status as Sectoral Dialogue Partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations recently in July 2023, a further step in strengthening the cooperation between South Africa and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)."
The top diplomat said Vietnam is consistent in its foreign policy of independence, autonomy, peace, friendship, cooperation, development, and diversification and multilateralisation of external relations.
"Vietnam is a friend, a reliable partner, and an active and responsible member of the international community," he said.
"Throughout our history, it is remarkable that Vietnam and South Africa have always taken the friendship and cooperation between the two countries as an anchor of mutual trust. This relationship was forged by the late President Nelson Mandela and President Ho Chi Minh and has been cultivated by the leaders and people of the two countries continuously.
"The celebration today is an excellent occasion to reaffirm the brotherhood between Vietnam and South Africa and to look forward to an ever more productive and brighter future."
Addressing the celebration, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said the presence of Vice President Xuan in Pretoria on the occasion marking the Southeast Asian country’s National Day and the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between South Africa and Vietnam is "most fortunate".
"The three decades following the establishment of formal diplomatic relations have seen numerous high-level visits take place between the two countries, the conclusion of several bilateral legal instruments in various areas of cooperation, and the establishment of an Inter-Governmental Partnership Forum for Economic, Trade, Scientific, Technical, and Cultural Co-operation aimed at facilitating cooperation in areas of mutual interest, with the last virtual session taking place in 2022 and the next Forum scheduled to meet in 2024 in South Africa," said Gordhan.
In addition, the Joint Trade Committee was held on November 23–24, 2022, in South Africa, which enabled further cooperation and discussions in the agricultural, automotive, minerals, and energy sectors.
Gordhan highlighted that the fast-growing relations between South Africa and Vietnam were severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in the postponement of several high-level visits that were in the pipeline at the time.
"We recall with gratitude the assistance Vietnam provided during this time in terms of Covid-19 protective equipment," he said.
"The purpose of celebrating 30 years of diplomatic relations is not only to reflect on the past but, more importantly, to look to the future and find ways to reinvigorate and deepen our ties in the aftermath of the pandemic.
"I believe there is much we can do to further strengthen our political and diplomatic partnership, including cooperation and mutual support in international fora; we need to increase and diversify our bilateral trade, inter alia, by facilitating market access through speeding up essential but protracted processes; and we should increase the frequency of high-level exchanges and discussions," said Gordhan.
South Africa has expressed confidence that in the coming years and decades, relations between South Africa and Vietnam will continue to grow "from strength to strength" for the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries.
"Please allow me, on behalf of President (Cyril) Ramaphosa, the government, and the people of the Republic of South Africa, to invite you to raise your glasses and toast to the good health and well-being of President Võ Văn Thưởng of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the success and prosperity of the government and the people of Vietnam, as well as the continued friendship and solidarity between the people of South Africa and the people of Vietnam," said Gordhan.
Quoting Ambassador Cuong, the Vietnam News Agency reported that bilateral trade between South Africa and Vietnam rose six-fold to nearly $1.3 billion in 2022 from $192 million in 2007.
Vietnam mainly exports mobile phones and components, apparel, footwear, and farm produce to South Africa, while importing fruits, timber, minerals, and chemicals from South Africa.