This weekend, all the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will gather in Jakarta to discuss the burning issue of Myanmar. Myanmar’s military junta leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing will attend the one-day summit.on Saturday.
Indonesia will have a very special guest, Vietnam’s new Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, who assumed his post on April 5, at the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta.
It will be the first foreign trip of Prime Minister Chinh, a veteran in government affairs, especially in public security as well as an influential leader in the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), since assuming the country’s top post.
Chinh will arrive in Jakarta on April 23 and have a meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the host of the summit, at Bogor Presidential Palace on the same day. The next day, he will attend the ASEAN Summit.
Vietnam is an old friend as well as a strategic partner of Indonesia.
Chinh’s historic visit to Jakarta comes at a time just after the election of Vietnam’s new collective leadership, which is based on the so-called “four pillars” of the ruling party and the government. The newly-elected four pillars of Vietnam are CPV’s General Secretary (Nguyen Phu Trong), President (Nguyen Xuan Phuc), Prime Minister (Chinh) and National Assembly Chairman (Vuong Dinh Hue).
It must be noted that the previous collective leadership for the period 2016-2021 had achieved tremendous progress in various fields. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew on an annual average of 6.22 percent, including 7.08 percent in 2018 and 7.02 percent in 2019, during the last five years.
Vietnam’s s exports jumped from US$176.6 billion in 2016 to a record high of $281.5 billion in 2020 (despite of COVID-19 pandemic). The country had also received $162.29 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) from 2016 to 2021.
The most remarkable achievement of Vietnam’s previous administration was successfully containing the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. As of April 21, Vietnam has just 2,800 COVID-19 cases and 35 deaths in the last 14 months, thanks to Vietnam’s preventive actions and timely measures to contain the pandemic.
In 2020, Vietnam hosted ASEAN chairmanship successfully despite COVID-19 problems. During its chairmanship, the historic Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement was signed.
In the international arena, Vietnam was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in 2019 for the period 2020-2021. It secured the highest number of votes, 192 out of 193 votes, in the election.
In February 2019, Hanoi hosted the historic meeting between the then U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un.
The new collective leadership of Vietnam for the period 2021-2026 is expected to continue the current policies and strategies of the government to achieve the sustainable growth and development.
Prime Minister Chinh is expected to focus mainly on faster economic growth, controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining balance in Vietnam’s relations with both the U.S. and China, reducing tensions and conflicts in the South China Sea and work for ASEAN unity.
Chinh will work hard to achieve 7 plus percent economic growth, like in 2018 and 2019, starting from 2022. Vietnam’s economy is expected to grow more than 6 percent this year, after falling to just 2.9 percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is also expected to take actions to boost Vietnam’s trade in the coming years.
Due to COVID-19, the bilateral trade between Vietnam and Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, was down to $8.07 billion in 2020 from a historic high of $9 billion in 2019.
New focus on relations with Indonesia
During his talks with President Widodo, Chinh is expected to discuss the entire gamut of bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues. Both leaders will also discuss the ways and means to boost bilateral trade and expand cooperation in many fields. Earlier, both countries have set a target of $10 billion bilateral trade by 2020. Chinh and Widodo are expected to discuss about strategies to achieve this $10 billion target in 2021.
Both Indonesia and Vietnam are key players in the ASEAN region. Both have similar perceptions about achieving a common goal of ASEAN community and maintaining peace and security in the region, especially in the hotly contested South China Sea.
After Chinh’s historic visit, relations between Indonesia and Vietnam are expected to reach new strategic heights. There will be a new focus from Chinh on strengthening existing relations with Indonesia. Vietnam considers Indonesia an important country in the region and feels that the latter should play a much bigger role in achieving ASEAN unity and maintaining peace in the region.