Sri Lanka – Vietnam bilateral relations, which are established within the framework of the United Nations, and the Non-Aligned Movement, have been expanding in all areas including: political and security, economic and trade, science and education, cultural, tourism and religion. Sri Lanka was one of the earliest countries which established relations with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Vietnam too extended support to Sri Lanka in various bilateral and multilateral forums at a time when Sri Lanka was grappling with the problems of terrorism. The relations between the two countries further reinvigorated in the 21st century as the Cabinet of Ministers decided to open a resident Sri Lankan Mission in Hanoi. Accordingly, the Sri Lanka Embassy was opened on 16th January 2003 and the first resident Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Vietnam presented his credentials to H.E. Mr. Tran Duc Luong, President of Vietnam on 17th February 2003.
The two nations are committed to a closer bilateral collaboration in the field of security, trade, investment and culture. The relations between the two countries got a boost during the historic visit made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Vietnam in October 2009. Rajapaksa then remarked that it was a source of great pride and satisfaction that Sri Lanka was among the first in South Asia to establish diplomatic relations with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. In 2011, during the visit of then Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang to Sri Lanka, a total of 8 Memoranda of Understanding(MoUs) were signed aimed at promoting cooperation in a variety of sectors such as political, defence, finance, industry & trade, investment, education, petroleum etc. The two sides expressed hope that the signing of such mutually beneficial instruments would help further deepen the understand.
The visit of Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to Hanoi from April 16 to April 18, 2017 provided a further boost to the existing bilateral relations between the two countries. Vietnam President Tran Dai Quan, while hailing the bilateral ties between the two nations since the establishment of their diplomatic relations 47 years ago, called on both the countries to strengthen cooperation and mutual support at multilateral forums, especially within the framework of the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement. The two nations affirmed to spur cooperation in security-national defence; sharing of information, law making experience; shaking hands in combating trans-national crimes; boosting coordination in post war consequence settlement and UN’s peace keeping operations. Both sides laid stress on the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the East Sea and handling disputes and disagreements through peaceful measures in line with international law. As regards trade, both the sides agreed to increase trade between the two countries up to USD 1 billion in the upcoming years. Bilateral trade between Vietnam and Sri Lanka reached $326 million in 2016. Most Vietnamese exports to Sri Lanka were footwear and processed seafood products.
Emphasizing that Sri Lanka is a powerful state located in a strategic location in the Indian Ocean, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stated that both nations had entered into an agreement to strengthen the relations in the sectors of petroleum oil and gas, infrastructure, IT, garments, agriculture and fisheries, renewable energy, aviations services, education and tourism. Two MoUs focussing on an action plan for agricultural development and education cooperation for 2017-2019 were also signed during the visit of Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Both the countries have defended the interest of the other in various international forums. Vietnam has defended Sri Lanka’s interests in multilateral fora including the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council. Sri Lanka too backed Vietnam’s bid for a seat at the 2014-2016 United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, the 2016 – 2018 UN Economic and Social Council and the 2020 – 2022 UN Security Council.