Vietnam is the center of close attention on the part of the leading countries of the Asia-Pacific region. This is due to the increasing role of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) in the international arena that is caused by a number of interrelated reasons.
Among them is the desire to be an active participant in regional affairs, to contribute to maximum economic integration, which is necessary for Vietnam in order to support optimal growth and attract foreign investments.
Vietnam is a member of many international organizations and a participant of various integration summits and forums. In doing so, this country is still open for new initiatives. In particular, the Republic is interested in the idea of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, proposed by Japan.
In 2006, under Vietnam’s chairmanship, the 14th APEC summit was conducted. Due to it Vietnam could join the WTO and improve relations with the United States. The APEC summit in November 2017 in Vietnam has further strengthened the country’s image in the international arena.
Main challenges currently faced by Vietnam are attracting foreign investment and ensuring energy and food security. Hanoi has used its chairmanship to the maximum benefit by organizing the new format of meetings – conference “Doing Business in Viet Nam” with the participation of the World Bank. In the near future, experts expect new agreements between Vietnamese businesses and regional investors in the field of trade, infrastructure, energy, technology.
It should be noted that Vietnam’s interest in developing the integration processes in the region is contrary to the policy of its main partner – the United States, which under a new administration is set to defend national priorities in the context of the declared Trump’s policy of “America First”. Washington is more inclined to bilateral relations with countries in the region, offering them a joint economic partnership. Under these conditions, the intensity of Vietnamese-American cooperation can be reduced.
Earlier, Hanoi assumed that it is possible to balance the Chinese influence by means of ASEAN. However, despite the organization’s desire to play the role of an independent player alongside with the USA and China, the participation of the Hanoi Association doesn’t help the country in tackling the most important issues. The Vietnamese are unhappy with the economic policies of ASEAN and problem-solving of territorial disputes in the South China Sea (SCS).
In particular, the Vietnamese economy allows this country to leave the backward group “CLMV” (Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam) and get the same bonuses in foreign trade, which are useful for the other six ASEAN countries (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines). However, the Association does not seek to raise the Vietnam’s status, as it considers this country as a locomotive for the development of the other three members of the group.
Regarding the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, Vietnam is weakly interested in the policy, which now ASEAN is holding. In particular, Hanoi sees no benefit in negotiating a code of conduct of parties with China in the South China Sea in the format in which it is presented now. It is suggested that approval of the document does not fully represent the interests of Southeast Asian countries, as thereby they recognize the territorial claims of Beijing in the South China Sea.
At the same time, Vietnam doesn’t seek to damage the bilateral economic cooperation, as China still remains the main Vietnamese partner. Now Americans are engaged in issue on the Korean Peninsula, while the South China Sea faded into the background. There is no doubt that the USA will continue to periodically “warm up” the territorial dispute. However, such support from the Americans does not solve the problem in the way in which Hanoi sees it.
In the current context of international relations, Vietnam will continue its policy of diversification of external relations and the preservation of a balance in its relations between the USA and China.
Russia in Vietnamese foreign policy traditionally takes the place of the main partner, in particular, in the sphere of military-technical cooperation and energy. In addition, Russian companies today have a chance to fill the spare niches. Vietnam is very interested in the spheres of digital banking and technology, rail and maritime infrastructure, renewable energy sources. One of the main tasks of the modern Vietnamese policy is the solution to the problem of food security and providing the population with necessary amount of clean fresh water. Development of new directions in the relationship with Vietnam could also contribute to the promotion of Russian companies to the markets of other regional countries.