Vietnam, New Zealand upgrade ties to strategic partnership

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern in Auckland, New Zealand in March 2018. Photo: Getty Images. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

HANOI, Jul 23, 2020, The Hanoi Times. The two countries focus on trade, agriculture, education, development and cooperation on regional and international matters of mutual interest. Vietnam and New Zealand have upgraded the bilateral ties to strategic partnership on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, The Hanoi Times reported.

The upgrading from comprehensive partnership is aimed to boost the multi-sectoral cooperation with a focus on trade, and agriculture is a significant part of it, according to a joint statement released after the virtual meeting on July 22 co-chaired by Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern.

Apart from trade, politics remain one of the major fields in the bilateral engagement and cooperation that will be conducted through frequent high-level exchanges between political parties, parliamentary and governmental delegations, particularly regular meetings between Prime Ministers, and annual meetings between Foreign Ministers, Trade Ministers and Defense Ministers, held in either of the two countries, in the margins of multilateral meetings, or by video-conference.

Accordingly, the two countries focus on trade, agriculture, education, development and cooperation on regional and international matters of mutual interest, and other meaningful initiatives elaborated in a Plan of Action for the Strategic Partnership to be jointly developed over the next 12 months.

Among those, the two sides highlight trade and investment cooperation as a key component of the strategic partnership.

For the year ending March 2020, the two-way trade in goods and services reached a new record of US$1.3 billion.

To boost the trade, the two countries commit reduce barriers, especially for agricultural, seafood, and timber products through enhancing market access, trade facilitation, information exchange, and collaboration between customs, and agriculture, food safety, and animal health agencies.

With a highlight put on agriculture, they agree to conduct joint research, collaboration and action on climate change in agriculture and forestry, agro-tech, technical assistance on plant health laboratory accreditation, plant breeding, food safety management and electronic certification, trade in legal timber products, and commercialization of agriculture products. As such, they welcome the commencement of a regular Agriculture Dialogue between officials.

They also pledge to promote trade liberalization across the Asia-Pacific region, supporting the rules-based, free, open, transparent, and inclusive multilateral trading system, including reform of the World Trade Organization.

In this regard, they reaffirm the full and effective implementation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), signing of a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement in 2020, and upgrading the Agreement Establishing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA).

Vietnam and New Zealand reaffirm their commitment to closer defense cooperation as a priority in the strategic partnership, including through high-level defense visits, port calls, policy consultations, strategic dialogues, education and training, United Nations peacekeeping operations, intelligence exchanges, maritime security cooperation and enhanced coordination in the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus forum.

They agree to convene annual meetings between the countries’ police, aiming to provide a framework for preventing and combating crimes.

In addition, they welcome the commencement of a regular Oceans Dialogue between officials.

Notably, they reaffirm the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security, safety, freedom of navigation and overflight, pursuing the peaceful resolution of disputes and respecting legal and diplomatic processes, in accordance with international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The two sides express continued concerns over developments in the South China Sea, including disruptive activities, and underscore the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoidance of actions that may further complicate the situation or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.

They reiterate the importance of the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety as well as the swift conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct for the South China Sea (COC) that is consistent with international law, particularly UNCLOS.

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