- Interview with Ambassador Nguyen VuTu of Viet Nam in Seoul
By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Vice Chairperson Cho Kyung-hee, Kim Jung-mi
Korean companies are encouraged to move into Viet Nam and make investment in infrastructure, high-technology industries and renewable energy. This was immediately apparent at a recent interview conducted with Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu of of Viet Nam in Seoul for publication in the five news outlets of Korea Post on the occasion of the Independence Day of Viet Nam on Sept. 3, 2018. The Korea Post media, established 33 years ago in 1985 now own and operate 3 English and 2 Korean news media outlets.
|President Moon Jae-in (left) shakes hands with President Tran Dai Quang of Viet Nam (right) on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders' Week in Da Nang city in November 2017.|
Ambassador Nguyen discussed a wide range of topics at the interview which included the desired areas of investment by Korean companies in Viet Nam, the National Day of Viet Nam, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Viet Nam, progress of bilateral cooperation in the economic and other areas, attractive tourist destinations, and the personal background of Ambassador Nguyen. Excerpts from the interview follow:
Question: What are the areas where you want Korean companies to invest for the promotion of economic cooperation between the two countries?
Answer: Korean investors are doing business in 18 among 21 sectors of Vietnamese economy, mainly concentrating in processing, manufacturing, real estate, construction, entertainment industry, and logistics.
|General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng of the Communist Party of Vietnam|
We are encouraging Korean businesses to invest more in the areas that are critical for Viet Nam to overcome the middle-income-trap and move up the country to the new phase of development such as infrastructure, high technology, and renewable energy. At the same time, we hope Korean investors will attach greater importance to the transfer of technology, develop supporting industries, and create more opportunities for Vietnamese enterprises to participate in the Korean-led global supply chains. Equally important, given the huge trade deficit for Viet Nam in our bilateral relations, we expect Korea to import more products from Viet Nam.
Q: Please introduce the National Day of Viet Nam.
|President Moon Jae-in (right) shakes hands with General Secretary Nguyen Xian Phuc of the Communist Party of Viet Nam.|
A: September 2nd is a day for celebration for the Vietnamese people and also an occasion for us to reflect on the heritage of our country as a sovereign nation and the valiant struggles our forefathers have undertaken to achieve, protect, and maintain nationhood.
73 years ago, on September 2nd, 1945, President Ho Chi Minh delivered the Declaration of Independence, giving birth to the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam. This significant milestone not only ended the colonialization and the occupation of France and Japan but also terminated the feudal regime lasting for centuries in Viet Nam. The past 73 years is the annals of immeasurable efforts made by the people of Viet Nam in overcoming numerous challenges for the protection and preservation of national independence, liberty, territorial integrity, the attainment of a conducive international environment for nation-building, and the achievement of well-being for its citizens.
|Korean Ambassador Kim Do-hyun to Viet Nam (9th from left) participates at the opening ceremony of Vinatech Vina on July 27, 2018.|
Q: It is very important to introduce the highest leaders of the country. Please introduce in detail the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Viet Nam and also the Head of Government (Administration).
A: In our country, the Communist Party of Viet Nam, the leading force of the State and society, stands at the core of the political system. Over the past 80 years, the Communist Party of Viet Nam has been in the vanguard of the struggle for national independence, liberating the country from almost a century of domination by colonialists and leading the people to total victory in the 30-year resistance war against the powerful aggressors. Since the country's reunification, the Communist Party has led the Vietnamese people in carrying out renovation, modernization, and industrialization. The General Secretary of the Communist Party of Viet Nam is the Party leader and head of the Politburo and Central Committee.
|Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu and Mrs. Tran Thi Lan Hinh (second and first from left) greet Chairman Kihak Sung of the Youngone Corporation at the National Day reception of Viet Nam in 2017.|
Per our constitution, the National Assembly is the highest representative body of the People and the highest body of State power. The National Assembly exercises constitutional and legislative powers, make decisions on significant national affairs, and exercises supreme control over all activities of the State.
The State President is the Head of State, elected by the National Assembly, and represents the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam in both domestic and foreign affairs. The President also acts as the commander-in-chief of the Viet Nam People's Armed Forces and Chairman of the Council for Defence and Security.
|Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu and Mrs. Tran Thi Lan Hinh (left and second from left) welcome guests at the National Day reception of Viet Nam.|
The Government is the highest administrative body of Viet Nam, exercising the executive power and being the executive body of the National Assembly. The Government is responsible for the implementation of political, economic, cultural, social, national defence, security and external activities of the State. The Government is headed by the Prime Minister, who has several Deputy Prime Ministers and several ministers in charge of particular activities.
Please keep in mind that the concept of the State contains six players: the National Assembly; the President; the Government; the Supreme Court; the Supreme Prosecutor; and the local governments whereas the Government is one of the six players under the State.
|Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu and Mrs. Tran Thi Lan Hinh (4th and 5th from left) pose with Korean guests.|
Q: Viet Nam is one of the few most important countries in the world for Korea for increased cooperation, especially in the economic field. As the Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, please introduce the progress of bilateral cooperation in the economic and other areas so far made during your tenure of office in Korea and your view of the outlook of further development between the two countries.
A: In 2017, Viet Nam and Korea celebrated 25 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations with diversified and memorable activities. It was a privilege for me to be appointed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to the Republic of Korea during this period.
|Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu and Mrs. Tran Thi Lan Hinh of Viet Nam in Seoul (fourth and fifth from right, respectively) hold hands in hands with the important Korean guests attending a gala Vietnamese National Day reception and a fashion parade at the Grand Ballroom of Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Aug. 29, 2017. Minister of Interior & Safety Kim Boo-kyum and Rep. Kim Hak-yong of main opposition Korea Liberty Party are seen third and seventh from left, respectively.|
While twenty six years is not a long span of time, our bilateral relationship has witnessed vigorous development in a wide range of areas, including political and security, economic, and people-to-people exchange activities. The two sides have maintained a regular exchange of visit by leaders in order to strengthen and expand the relationship. Since my arrival in Korea, I have had the privilege to serve the first State visit of President Moon Jae-in to Viet Nam in March 2018 and several official and working visits of high-ranking officials from both sides, including Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Minister of Foreign Affairs. We are now preparing for the official visit to Korea in the near future of Madam Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Chairwoman of Viet Nam’s National Assembly.
|Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu (3rd from left) and Mrs. Tran Thi Lan Hinh (far left) pose with Madam Nguyen (mother of Ambassador Nguyen) and Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post (right).|
As our economies are complimentary to each other, the economic cooperation has been spectacularly strengthened over the last two and half decades. Korea is currently the second largest trading partner of Viet Nam and Viet Nam is number 4 trading partner of Korea with a bilateral trade turnover in 2017 more than 90 times higher than in 1993, in which Korea's exports to Viet Nam were about US$46.7 billion, while imports from Viet Nam were about US$ 14.8 billion. The Viet Nam-Korea Free Trade Agreement (VKFTA), which was concluded in 2015 and came into force in December 2015, has helped accelerate two-way trade. The VKFTA is expected to enable both sides to reach the target of US$100 billion in two-way trade turnover by 2020 as set by the Leaders of both countries in March 2018.
|Korean Ambassador Kim Do-hyun to Viet Nam (2nd from left) attended an event entitled “Employment Opportunity with Korean Companies” invited by Vice Minister of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs of Viet Nam on Aug 8, 2017.|
In term of investment, since 2017, Korea becomes the largest foreign investor in Viet Nam. Totally, Korea is investing in more than 7000 projects with accumulative committed capital of more than US$60 billion. Viet Nam ranks the fourth largest investment destination for Korean investors.
Viet Nam is also the main beneficiary of Korea’s official development assistance (ODA). Korea currently ranks second among the foreign ODA providers for Viet Nam, with commitments of US$1.2 billion for the period of 2011-2015 and US$1.5 billion for 2016-2020. Korea’s development assistance to Viet Nam is distinctive in that it focuses on socio-economic development by sharing development experience through education, vocational training, administrative reforms, water resources management, infrastructure development, etc. Korea is also assisting Viet Nam in IT development and the high-tech industries through personnel training, transfer of expertise, and experience sharing.
|Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu and Mrs. Tran Thi Lan Hinh (2nd and 3rd from left) pose with Korean guests at the National Day of Viet Nam in 2017.|
Along with our strengthened political and economic cooperation, cultural exchanges between Viet Nam and Korea have also seen a significant development based on a shared historical and cultural background. In the last two years, we have organized a number of cultural events, including a Vietnamese Film Festival in July this year in Seoul. Last year, as part of the activities to mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties, the seventh Vietnamese cultural festival was held at Sejong University on October 29 and the annual Vietnamese Culture and Tourism Festival was organized in Seoul in December. In addition to frequent exchanges of traditional and contemporary performances and exhibitions, there is widespread enthusiasm for Korean pop culture, or Hallyu, especially among Vietnamese youth. There is also an increased interest in Korean studies in Viet Nam. In February 2016 the Ministry of Education and Training of Viet Nam and the Korean Embassy in Viet Nam have signed an agreement for a pilot project of teaching Korean language in Viet Nam high schools. In Korea, Vietnamese studies have been established at several universities and the number is growing year after year.
|Chairman Lee of The Korea Post media (center) is flanked by the beauties of Viet Nam at the reception desk at the reception venue of Viet Nam on the National Day in 2017.|
Also with the deepening of bilateral relations in the socio-economic area, people-to-people contacts have greatly increased. Last year, roughly 2,500,000 Korean tourists visited Viet Nam (an increase of 128% compared with the year before) and more than 320,000 Vietnamese tourists visited Korea (an year-to-year growth rate at 29.2%). In the first half of 2018, there are 211,147 Vietnamese tourists visited Korea, comprising about 3% of total number of foreign tourists. More than 40 municipalities from each country are bound in sister cities relationship. There are more than 160,000 Vietnamese, including 48,537 workers, 41,936 Vietnamese spouses, and 21.823 students working, studying and living in Korea, whereas about 150,000 Koreans are living in Viet Nam.
|Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu and Mrs. Tran Thi Lan Hinh (3rd and 4th from left) pose with Korean guests at the National Day reception of Viet Nam.|
Last but not least, Korea and Viet Nam have also been in close coordination and cooperation on regional and global issues. Our coordination and cooperation is strengthened within multilateral fora and international organizations such as the U.N., the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and regional cooperation mechanisms including ASEAN+RoK, ASEAN+3, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the East Asia Summit (EAS). The two countries have not only coordinated on major global and regional issues such as sustainable development, climate change, nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, but also shared position on matters concerning the governing principles of the international order and a global rules-based system including respect for international law, peaceful settlement of territorial and maritime disputes, and the freedom of navigation and over-flight in Asia-Pacific.
|Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu of Viet Nam (left) poses with Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.|
In spite of the steady development of cooperation over the past 26 years, we still have a great potential to further strengthen and bring the bilateral relations to new heights. There are a number of contributing factors to this optimistic future. One, Korea with “New South Policy” under President Moon Jae In continues to deepen ties with Southeast Asian states including Viet Nam. Two, Viet Nam continues to be an attractive investment destination and trading partner with economic growth expected at 6-7% a year in the upcoming decade. Three, as part of our foreign policy of diversification and multi-directional international relations, Viet Nam looks to further strengthen relations with a range of major and middle powers, including Korea. With that, we can expect to see more and more developments on our bilateral relations in the years that follow.
|Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu and Mrs. Tran Thi Lan Hinh (3rd and 4th from left) pose with Korean guests.|
Q: Who are the Korean companies actively contributing to the economic cooperation between the two countries? Non-jaebeol businesses, and small and medium companies, are also very important as they are more interested in genuine bilateral cooperation according to some of the CEOs of such companies.
A: As I mentioned before, with one of the fastest growth economies, friendly and attractive investment policy, Viet Nam is one of the top favorite investment destinations for Korean investors.
Korean investors are present in 49 provinces of Viet Nam but most concentrated in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai, Hai Phong, Thai Nguyen and Bac Ninh. Many of the big Korean corporations, such as Samsung, LG, Lotte, Posco, Kumho, Doosan, SK, GS, CJ, have already made successful investment in Viet Nam. There are some significant Korean FDI projects in Viet Nam. Samsung Electronics’ accumulative investment is already over US$17 billion. Two Samsung’s smart phone factories in Bac Ninh and Thai Nguyen provinces produce around 40 to 50 percent of Samsung’s global cellphones production. LG already invested US$1.5 billion in Hai Phong city, while the Lotte department stores chain has plans to expand to 87 locations by 2020, compared to the current 13 locations.
While FDI projects implemented by Korean conglomerates are prominent, it should be noted that more than 95% of Korea's investment projects in Viet Nam are carried out by small and medium enterprises. The majority of companies investing in Viet Nam for years has been conducted business successfully and positively values favorable investment environment in Viet Nam. They play an important role in promoting export of Viet Nam, restructuring the economy, moving Viet Nam up to a higher notch in global value chains and strengthening the bilateral Viet Nam-Korea relations.
In recent years, we have seen a new wave of Korean investment by jaebeols as well as non-jaebeol businesses, and small and medium companies into Viet Nam. Given the entering into force of many bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements and the on-going US-China trade tension, many Korean enterprises have started or increased investment in Viet Nam in order to take the competitive advantage of Vietnamese economy and to hedge against risks elsewhere.
Q: Korean business leaders as well as the FTAs want rest and recuperation. What are the attractive tourist destinations in your country?
A: The natural geographic conditions, historical traditions, and a rich and diversified culture have created a Viet Nam with a timeless charm boasting a long list of of wonderful destinations for tourists. Viet Nam has a long coast, many forests, mountains with beautiful caves, many ancient architectures and special festivals, many of which have received good reviews for their service and natural beauty.
If you want to find out more about traditions, history, architectures, and culture of Viet Nam, I would recommend Hanoi – the present capital city, Hue Imperial City, and Hoi An. Hanoi is not only the current capital city, but also an old-age traditional, historical and cultural city of Viet Nam. Hue Imperial City features hundreds of monuments dating back to 18-19th centuries, including the Forbidden City, royal tombs, pagodas, temples, royal quarters, and museums. Not very far from Hue is the splendid and old city Hoi An with its traditions, rich culture and historic architecture, especially ancient architectural wooden houses in the old town quarter.
If you want to discover the beauty of Nature in Viet Nam, one of famous destinations is Halong Bay, repeatedly recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage Area. Halong Bay attracts both domestic and international tourists for its outstanding natural beauty, thousands of magnificent islets and rocks, and a number of limestone caves. Alternatively, Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park is another popular option for adventurers looking to explore its many limestone caves, including Son Doong, the world’s largest cave.
If you are a sea and swimming lover, there are splendid beach destinations with white and gold sand in Viet Nam. Nha Trang in the Khanh Hoa province offers one of the most beautiful beaches in Viet Nam for both magnificent natural sea scenes and excellent recreation services. Da Nang is an attractive place by not only beautiful and clean beaches, blue water, mountains and forests, but also diversified cuisine and good quality service. Mui Ne in the Binh Thuan province is a precious gift of Nature, with the most beautiful sand banks in Viet Nam. Phu Quoc, with its vast marine resources, abundant forests, and stretching white sand beaches, remains a second-to-none attractive destination.
In addition, although Viet Nam is a tropical country, there are a number of famous destinations for tourists preferring cool weather such as Sa Pa, Tam Dao, Ba Na, and Da Lat. These cool towns and cities are mostly located at about 1000 meter above the sea level. Da Lat is an ideal holiday attraction, famous for its typical architecture, pine forests, waterfalls and countless kinds of flowers. Surrounded by scenic mountains, rice terraces, Sa Pa is another beautiful town where tourists can witness beautiful waterfalls, experience interesting customs and the lifestyle of the local ethnic minority people. Impressive golf courses are on offer in most of those destinations.
Q: Please introduce yourself fully, including your family and hobbies.
A: I am a career diplomat, arrived in Seoul in March 2017 as the seventh Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to the Republic of Korea. Prior to this position, I served at several positions in different offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including ASEAN SOM (Senior Officials Meeting) Leader of Viet Nam and Director-General of the Ho Chi Minh City Office of the Ministry.
Before going to Korea, I served twice at our diplomatic missions. From 2002 to 2005, I was a Political Counselor at the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington, D.C. Later, I served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to the Republic of the Philippines from February 2010 to August 2013.
I received my Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam, Hanoi, in 1981. I earned my Master’s degree in international relations as a Fulbright scholar from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Massachusetts, the United States, in 1994.
I am married. Our son is working and our daughter is in college. I enjoy cooking Vietnamese dishes and going to the gym in my free time.
Kim Sua email@example.com