President Sang Shares Vietnam’s ‘Success Story’ At UN – OpEd


Vietnam’s popular President Truong Tan Sang shared his country’s “success story” in achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) much ahead of their targets with his global peers at the ongoing top level United Nations meetings.

Sang addressed the 4th High Level Plenary of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Friday (Sept. 25). In his speech, Sang highlighted the remarkable progress made by his country during the last seven decades and Vietnam’s vision of the geopolitical landscape in the 21st century.

Earlier, he spoke at the UN Summit to Adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which was held from Sept. 25-27 at the UN headquarters. The agenda, known as “Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” consists of 17 goals and 169 targets and will come into effect from Jan. 1, 2016.

The three-day summit, which was attended by 163 heads of state and government, unanimously adopted a sweeping global plan of action to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and protect the environment. These targets are known as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In his speech, President Sang called on the international community to work for peace in order to achieve SDGs by 2030.

“The Sustainable Development Goals could not be realized in circumstances of war, conflict or instability. It was therefore incumbent upon countries to find peaceful solutions to conflicts, exercise self-restraint and strengthen cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit,” Sang said.

Vietnam, Sang continued, believed that the success of the 2030 Agenda required strong political will and effective mobilization of domestic resources and the assistance from rich countries.

“The United Nations should play the critical coordinating role in strengthening the global partnership for sustainable development,” he said.

Sang urged developed countries to support their developing counterparts particularly through capacity-building, technology transfer, trade facilitation and access to financial resources.

Sang also emphasized that Vietnam strived to be a “trusted partner” in the global community and wanted to focus on multilateral and diversified relations. Vietnam has been carefully pursuing a “balanced” foreign policy in which it maintains cordial relations with all major powers.

According to government sources in Hanoi, Sang, who arrived in the US on Sept. 24, will continue his journey to Havana, Cuba, from Sept. 28-30 to strengthen bilateral ties.

Sang, during his stay in the US, also attended a meeting on UN peacekeeping operations, an area in which Hanoi has been showing a lot of interest in recent years. On the sidelines of the UNGA, Sang also had numerous bilateral meetings with American and other world leaders. Among them, the most important one was his meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Sang asked the UN chief to push for a peaceful resolution of the most complex South China Sea dispute.

According to Vietnamese News Agency (VNA), Sang told Ban that the maritime disputes, especially the South China Sea conundrum, must be settled peacefully in accordance with international law, particularly the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed in 2002.

Sang also spoke about the need for an early conclusion of a legally binding Code of Conduct (COC) in regard to the waters of South China Sea.

The VNA reported that Ban agreed, while emphasizing the importance of UNCLOS and DOC, on the need to push for an early conclusion of COC.

Despite the presence of many high-profile leaders like Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Cuban President Raul Castro, the Vietnamese President became an attraction at the UN because of his country’s present status as a global manufacturing house and darling of foreign investors, thanks to bold reforms and an investor-friendly climate.

The UN has been an important partner of Vietnam ever since it joined the international body. Vietnam became the 149th member on Sept. 20, 1977. Currently, the UN has 193 members. Vietnam will not forget the assistance provided by UN agencies, first during the post-war reconstruction and later during the so-called renovation period.

Vietnam received kudos from both UN chief Ban and fellow UN member countries for its success in achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in some cases even surpassing the targets, especially in areas like poverty reduction, education and gender equality.

“Vietnam is a development success story. Political and economic reforms (doi moi) launched in 1986 have transformed Vietnam from one of the poorest countries in the world, with per capita income below US$100, to a lower middle income country within a quarter of a century with per capita income of over $2,000 by the end of 2014,” the World Bank said recently in a statement posted on its website.

“Vietnam now is one of the most dynamic emerging countries in the East Asia region”.

The percentage of people living in poverty, according to the World Bank, has dropped from 58.1 percent in 1993 to less than 3 percent now. Likewise, Vietnam has reduced the malnutrition rate from 41 percent in 1993 to 11.7 percent in 2011. It has achieved self-sufficiency in food production and has become a major exporter of food items.

Despite the global financial turmoil, the Vietnamese economy may grow more than 6 percent this year. The Vietnamese government set a 6.4 percent GDP growth target for 2015. Its economy grew an average 6.4 percent per year during the last decade. Last year it grew 6.0 percent.

After unification in 1975, the increase in GDP value, during the first decade, was nominal, increasing from $3.9 billion in 1975 to $4.8 billion in 1985. In the next decade, GDP grew more than four times to reach $20.7 billion in 1995. It surged to $52.9 billion in 2005, $115.9 billion in 2010 and $186.2 billion in 2014, thanks to numerous economic and political reforms.

In terms of inflation, Vietnam has been successful in managing macroeconomic stability by reducing its headline inflation from 23 percent in August 2011 to 4.1 percent in 2014.

Vietnam’s fast-growing exports are the main engine of its impressive economic growth. Last year its exports grew by 11.6 percent. Vietnam’s exports surged to a record high of $150.2 billion in 2014, a huge jump from $96.1 billion in 2011.

The World Bank praised Vietnam for its success in increasing exports.

“Vietnam’s traditional labor-intensive manufacturing exports such as garments, footwear and furniture continue to grow at a rapid clip. Recent additions to the export basket such as hi-tech and high-value products (cell phones, computers, electronics, and automobile parts) have also maintained rapid growth, and have now become the largest share of exports,” the World Bank said.

Foreign direct investment has been continuously flowing into Vietnam, which has a population of nearly 100 million, mostly young, meaning cheap skilled labor; a strategic location; bounteous natural resources; and a market-friendly government. Vietnam’s cumulative foreign direct investment, as of June 2015, was $257 billion, making it the third-largest recipient of FDI in ASEAN after Singapore and Indonesia.

Veeramalla Anjaiah

Veeramalla Anjaiah is a Jakarta-based senior journalist and the author of the book “Azerbaijan Seen from Indonesia

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