PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s address at the Heritage Foundation
11:04 | 05/06/2017

VGP – PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc delivered a special address at the Heritage Foundation on May 31 themed “Opportunities and Challenges to Peace, Security, Cooperation and Development in the Asia-Pacific and the Growth of Viet Nam–U.S. Comprehensive Partnership.”

The following is translation of his address for reference:

At the invitation of President Donald J. Trump, I am leading a Vietnamese delegation on official visit to the United States. There have been series of meetings and activities in New York as well as here in Washington D.C today.

I have had a series of meetings with American Secretaries, members of Cabinet and a number of United States corporations and I also have had fruitful meeting with President Trump with the attendance of Vice President Mike Pence and several Secretaries. During the meeting, both sides agreed to open up new cooperation opportunities to further advance the bilateral ties. In New York, our delegation attended the 40th anniversary of Viet Nam’s membership to the United Nations (1997-2017).

Joint statement for enhancing VN-U.S. comprehensive partnership

Let’s me start by thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak here at the Heritage Foundation on the topic of “Opportunities and challenges for peace, security, development in Asia-Pacific and the development of Viet Nam-U.S. relations”.

In the 1776 Independence Declaration of the United States of America, President Thomas Jefferson wrote that: “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness Half way around the world.”

More than a century and a half later, that letters and spirit have echoed in the Declaration of Independence that gave birth to the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam in 1945, in which President Ho Chi Minh reaffirmed that all people on earth are born equal, they all have the right to live, to be happy and free. This is to show that at the dawn of independence of the United States and Viet Nam, founding fathers hundreds years ago, shared the core values and principles.

And very interesting incidents that our two national founders, Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Ho Chi Minh both passed away on independence days.

As we meet here today in a nation where women power is valued, I wish to tell you that two millennia ago, the Vietnamese people struggled for survival and self-determination and the pursuance of happiness were started by two women leaders. All Vietnamese, no matter where they live on the earth, all take pride in the uprising of the two sisters (Hai Ba Trung).

And I believe that the humanitarian and fine values of the two countries’ histories are the solid foundations to build a sustainable and lasting partnership between Viet Nam and the United States.

If only a few decades ago, Viet Nam and the United States were in opposite frontlines, today we become comprehensive partners, engaging in all-round cooperation ranging from economic to defense and security areas.

And I would like to take this opportunity to thank the pioneers of this partnership-the individuals who have worked tirelessly for the close bonds between our two countries. We always treasure what these American have done, particularly be grateful to Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, to the first American Ambassador to Viet Nam Pete Peterson, to Senators John McCain, Jonh Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Jim Webb, and to all friends near and far.

Looking back at the history of upheavals in our relationship and the past 20-year cooperation, I would like to say to you and also to President Trump that we have thrived beyond ourselves, having not only closing the past and looking forward to our future, but also embarking upon a journey together to build a brighter future and write a new chapter for our bilateral relations, contributing to peace and shared prosperity in the whole Asia-Pacific region.

Almost three years ago, the unprecedented and very successful visit by Party General Secretary of Viet Nam Nguyen Phu Trong set a special milestone and a critical turning point in our bilateral ties. The visit is now followed by my official visit to the United States as the Prime Minister of Viet Nam.

Just before coming here, I had fruitful talks with President Donald Trump and a series of meetings with American Secretaries and politicians to discuss ways to strengthen the Viet Nam-United States comprehensive partnership.  We have agreed on an array of cooperative actions to realize the twin goals of growth and job creation for both sides by encouraging businesses to form production and value chains and better connect our two markets in the way that bring benefits to our people and our businesses.

The Heritage Foundation is an independent research institute, having positive influences on American policy making process. Many of your initiatives and recommendations have been implemented and its principles and values are crucial to social progress here in America. Your insight analysis in studies and recommendations could be useful references for many nations in today‘s globalized world.

And I hope that your works will provide us with practical information as we try to build a Government that is clean, enabling, action-oriented that is moving forward with people and the business community and to be a comprehensive partner of the United States in today and the future ahead

During his visit to the United States, General Secretary Nguyen Phuc Trong quoted President F. Roosevelt as saying that “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Today with the belief and resolve to build better future for Asia-Pacific and for Viet Nam-US relations, I wish to share with you my thoughts on some major issues facing us as well as ways to advance Viet Nam-US relations.

First about the opportunities and the challenges to peace, security and development in Asia-Pacific

This fast-growing region is home to the world’s leading economies, including the US, China, Japan, ASEAN and many dynamic economies. It accounts for 55% of global economic GDP and is poised to have opportunities to advance trade and economic connectivity, global supply and value chains in the context of the 4th industrial revolution.

Viet Nam has been working responsibly with countries in the region to translate these opportunities into strong dynanism for growth while at the same time addressing challenges like tensions on the Korean peninsula, threat of terrorism and extremism, unilateralism and power politics, and increased pressure from resources scarcity, thirst for new resources, poverty, population growth, non-traditional security threats and complex and unpredictable environment in the East China Sea and the East Viet Nam Sea. These are the challenges that are beyond the ability of any single power to address with selfish interests in mind.

These challenges compel nations to form cooperative mechanisms that are based on international law and designed in such a way that ensure balance of interests among parties and help shape a regional architecture involving all nations, big and small, within and outside the region and abiding by the principles of peace, stability, equality, and cooperation in line with the shared goals of stability and development in the region.

Indeed, Asia-Pacific is growing to become the new center of power, crucial to the formation of a new world order, as Senator John McCain once spoke here at the Heritage Foundation that the United States recognizes that much of the history of the 21st century will be written in the Asia-Pacific region that ushers in an unprecedented era of peace and security, enabling hundreds of millions of people in Asia to lift themselves out of poverty.

We agree with the aforesaid viewpoint and welcome all nations, including the United States to play an active part in ensuring the principles of safety and security and freedom of navigation and over-flight on the basis of respect for international law.

We appreciate the support by the United States as well as American politicians and scholars for the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, respect of diplomatic and legal processes and the principle of non-use of force, non-militarization and not changing the status quo. We appreciate the support for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Viet Nam Sea and the work towards early conclusion of a Code of Conduct.

Second, about the growth of Viet Nam-U.S. comprehensive partnership

It is Viet Nam’s policy to develop a mutually beneficial, comprehensive and lasting cooperation with the United States on the basis of respecting each other’s independence and sovereignty.

As an Asia-Pacific nation, Viet Nam shares maritime boundaries with six ASEAN countries and with China. For Viet Nam it is vitally important to ensure the principle of freedom of navigation and over-flight in the East Viet Nam Sea in accordance with the international law including the 1982 UNCLOS. More than properly anyone else, we understand thoroughly the values of cooperation for peace and shared prosperity in compliance with international law. We believe that geo-strategically speaking, Viet Nam and the United States share the values and principles that can lay the important foundations for peace, cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

On trade, our two economies are more complementary than competitive. Viet Nam imports American Boeing planes, electric engines, high-tech medical equipment and pharmaceuticals. In 2016 alone, Viet Nam imported nearly 1,5 million tons of corn, soybeans, and wheat and 0.5 ton of cotton. We exported shrimp, catfish, vegetables, timber, garments and footwear which have become all favorite products for American consumers. Last year, our bilateral trade was almost US$50 billion. And I would like to add that American exports to Viet Nam have been steadily grown in recent years, up to 77%, in which many products increased ten folds. During my trip, both sides have signed contracts worth US$15 billion and most of them are American exports like equipment and machinery.

On investment, the United States has 850 projects in Viet Nam with total value of over US$10 billion, making the United States the 9th biggest foreign investor in Viet Nam. Many successful American investors have expanded their projects and continued to list Viet Nam as an attractive investment destination.

Recent reforms in Viet Nam are opening up new and great opportunities for American investors, at the same time, the strong growth of the Vietnamese businesses community is also representing prospect of the flow of investment from Viet Nam to the United States which is properly the world’s most attractive destination.

On education, Viet Nam and the United States are embarking on many joint projects, particularly the establishment of the Fulbright University Viet Nam as non-profit, independent, high-quality education institution with an aim to help Viet Nam education sector to keep pace with international standards.

Moreover, Vietnamese alumni of over 21,000 Vietnamese studying in the United States have contributed to Viet Nam’s economic development and also served as a bridge connecting our two countries and our two peoples, and as central components of brighter future of our bilateral bonds.

On tourism, about 0.6 million of American visited Viet Nam in 2016. Almost 50 million Vietnamese are frequent users of Google, Facebook and YouTube. Recent American movie called Skull Island has marvelous shots in Viet Nam and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts became the first foreigner appointed Viet Nam’s tourism Ambassador.

On security and defense, we have focused efforts on implementing various agreements, including activities in law enforcement, crime prevention, cyber-security and terrorism countering, and capacity building for law enforcement.

In addition, we have also strengthened our relations in various areas by exchanging high-level visits and contacts, building mutual trust and confidence, expanding dialogue mechanisms and diversifying our cooperation which now cover the whole range of areas from political, security- defense, education and training, culture, tourism and people-to-people exchange, environment protection and climate change adaptation. The two sides have accelerated humanitarian cooperation to address the consequences of war, particularly in dioxin decontamination, removal of explosive remnants of war, and in searching for soldiers missing in action, including Vietnamese soldiers.

We welcome President Trump’s decision to attend the upcoming APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Viet Nam. This is not only the positive signal for Asia-Pacific but also an important occasion for the United States to assert its positive role in the region, creating new impetus for economic and trade and investment cooperation in the region.

Let’s me conclude by once again quoting President Thomas Jefferson as saying “In the matters of style, swim with the current, in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” I see the comprehensive partnership between Viet Nam and the United States as the main current and each of us will stand like a rock when it comes to our cooperation principles of equality, mutual respect and benefit for the prosperity in each country and for the ultimate aim of building ASEAN and Asia-Pacific region of peace, stability, cooperation and prosperity.

Thank you very much./.

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