Dr M visits Vietnam to boost bilateral ties, trade

The visit will enhance the diplomatic ties established between the 2 countries in the past 46 years since 1973, says Shariffah Norhana


THE three-day official visit of Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) to Vietnam starting today will strengthen relations and spur bilateral trade to US$15 billion (RM62.85 billion) next year.

Malaysian Ambassador to Vietnam Datuk Shariffah Norhana Syed Mustaffa said the visit, which is Dr Mahathir’s first to Vietnam after taking the PM post for the second time, is at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

She said the visit will enhance the diplomatic ties established between the two countries in the past 46 years since 1973.

“Both leaders are expected to discuss bilateral ties and also promote new cooperation initiatives in various fields including trade and investment, as well as regional and international issues,” she said in a media conference in Hanoi yesterday.

The issue of intrusion by Vietnamese fishermen into Malaysian waters is also expected to be brought up, she added.

The last time Dr Mahathir embarked on an official visit to Vietnam was in 1996 and he also attended the Asean Summit in 1998.

Shariffah Norhana said Vietnam is an important economic partner to Malaysia.

She said the value of Malaysia-Vietnam trade last year was US$13.3 billion. “Malaysian exports to Vietnam exceeded US$8.48 billion, while import from Vietnam totalled US$4.77 billion.

“Malaysia is now the 11th-largest trading partner to Vietnam, while Vietnam is the 13th-largest trading partner to Malaysia in the world and the 4thlargest in Asean after Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia,” she said.

Dr Mahathir will be accompanied by his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, senior officials of the PM’s Office, Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia External Trade Development Corp and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority.

The PM is scheduled to arrive at Noi Bai International Airport at 5.20pm today and will attend a dinner with the Malaysian diaspora in Vietnam.

Tomorrow, Dr Mahathir will attend an official welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace. Both PMs will meet briefly followed by a Malaysia-Vietnam delegation meeting.

After the meeting, both leaders will witness an exchange of documents for the establishment of the Malaysia-Vietnam Parliamentary Friendship Group followed by a joint media conference.

On the same day, Dr Mahathir will hold a dialogue with Malaysian businessmen and investors involving 27 Malaysian companies operating in Vietnam.

Dr Mahathir and Dr Siti Hasmah will attend an official dinner to be hosted by Nguyen.

On Wednesday, the PM will visit the Hoa Lac Hi-tech Park. On the same day, he will speak at FPT University on “Malaysia’s preparation in dealing with Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0)” apart from visiting an exhibition of VinFast cars made in Vietnam.

Apart from that, Dr Mahathir will also visit Noi Bai Industrial Free Trade Zone, which he performed the groundbreaking ceremony for the project in 1996.

Dr Mahathir will also visit a hi-tech exhibition at Yamaha Motor Vietnam in the zone. — Bernama