Vietnam and Bangladesh share a cordial relationship over forty-five years of diplomatic relations. Bangladesh was the first country in South Asia and the second in Asia to recognise and establish diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level with the then Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam. On February 11, 1973, Vietnam and Bangladesh officially established diplomatic relations. Vietnam was one of the first nations to recognise Bangladesh’s independence in 1971.

Bangladesh and Vietnam share common objectives in major multilateral international forums such as the United Nations (UN), Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and South-South Co-operation. Leaders from both the countries have paid regular visits enhancing bilateral relations as well as extended their mutual co-operation in various multilateral forums. In May 2005, the then Bangladeshi Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia paid a 3 day visit to Vietnam which marked an important milestone strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two nations. Vietnam welcomed the visits by Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2012, President Abdul Hamid in 2015 and Speaker of the Parliament Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in 2017.

The visit of Vietnam President Tran Dai Quan to Bangladesh from 4th to 6th March 2018 has further strengthened the bilateral cooperation between the two states. The visit was significant as it was the first by a Vietnamese President to the South Asian country in 14 years. During his visit, President Tran Dai Quang held meeting with President Md. Abdul Hamid. President Tran Dai Quang and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led their respective sides to a bilateral meeting. President Tran Dai Quang met the Honourable Speaker of the Parliament and the Chairman of the Bangladesh Workers’ Party. He also addressed the Viet nam – Bangladesh Business Forum; met leaders of the Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries, the Bangladesh-Vietnam Council for Commerce and Industries and a number of Bangladeshi leading businessmen and attended the cultural event to mark the 45th anniversary of Vietnam – Bangladesh diplomatic relations.

During the meetings, the two sides informed each other of the political, economic and social developments in their respective countries. President Tran Dai Quang appreciated Bangladesh for maintaining stability and steering economic and social development, improving the people’s living standards and thus contributing to peace, stability and development in the region. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed appreciation for Vietnam’s remarkable socio-economic development and constructive role it has been playing in the region. She also appreciated Vietnam for successfully hosting the APEC Year 2017. Vietnam sought Bangladesh’s support in favour of its candidature for a non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council for the period of 2020-2021. Bangladesh agreed to give due consideration to the request, taking into account the tradition of mutual support between the two countries in multilateral fora.

The two countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in security and defence areas through the exchange of goodwill visits and delegations and participation in training in each other’s country. They also agreed to continue cooperation in countering transnational crimes and terrorism. Bangladesh expressed willingness to share its experience in the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations.

Vietnam and Bangladesh have a robust trade relationship. Two-way trade between the two nations exceeded US$900 million in 2017, up almost 50% from the previous year. Bangladesh mainly imports agriculture products, such as rice and livestock products from Vietnam while it imports textiles and cloths, leather and leather products, plastic products and medicine from Bangladesh. The two countries aim to raise their two-way annual trade to $2 billion over the next three years from nearly $1 billion. To promote bilateral investment, the two sides stressed on the need to effectively implement the Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investment and agreed to create the best conditions for entrepreneurs and business communities of the two countries to explore business and investment opportunities in both countries.

The visit of Vietnam President to Bangladesh thus strengthened the ties between the two nations further. As the Vietnam President Tran Dai Quan himself remarks: “Both nations will make the most of these potential and advantages to look for suitable measures and develop bilateral relations more practically and effectively, thereby meeting the aspirations and interests of their people”.

By Dr. Ankit Srivastava