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Enhancing Vietnam-Thailand Relations for Common Prosperity, Sustainable Development and Regional Security


 Enhancing Vietnam-Thailand Relations for

Common Prosperity, Sustainable Development and

Regional Security”

Tuesday, 12th July 2016 at 9.00 a.m. – 12.30 p.m.  

The Political Science Alumni Conference Room,

12th Floor, Kasem-Udhayanin (60th Anniversary Faculty of Political Science Building)

Faculty of Political Science, ChulalongkornUniversity




Video : Enhancing Vietnam-Thailand Relations for Common Prosperity, Sustainable Development and Regional Security

Enhancing Vietnam-Thailand Relations for Common Prosperity, Sustainable Development and Regional Security Part 1/3:

Enhancing Vietnam-Thailand Relations for Common Prosperity, Sustainable Development and Regional Security Part 2/3: 

Enhancing Vietnam-Thailand Relations for Common Prosperity, Sustainable Development and Regional Security Part 3/3:


Power Point Presentation 



Public Forum 'Enhancing Vietnam-Thailand Relations

Opening Remarks

Assoc. Prof Dr. Ake Tangsupvattana:

Thailand and Vietnam have come a long way from different directions for decades. During the Cold War, both counties were at opposite ends backed by the superpowers. It was a tough time for our countries, but we both got through it in our own way. In the post-Cold War period, Vietnam opened up and joined ASEAN in 1995. Thailand was a key supporter of Vietnamam opened up and joined ASnce then, Thai-Vietnamese relations have improved steadily. Beyond ASEAN, Thailand and Vietnam are also in the Greater Mekong Subregion, and are now connected by highways, and have deeper collaboration and cooperation in education, infrastructure, tourism and other areas. In addition to bilateral relations that are moving from strength to strength, Thailand and Vietnam are also two major ASEAN partners that can make a difference on a regional canvas. In fact, there are many challenges facing ASEAN at present, not least of all the decisions from The Hague on the South China Sea. It is in this context that Thailand and Vietnam need to step up and leverage their partnerships for regional peace and stability in ASEAN.


H.E. Nguyen Tat Thanh

Ambassador, The Embassy of Socialist Republic of Vietnam:


Vietnam and Thailand are celebrating their 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations and embarking on a new era of strategic partnership.


Vietnam and Thailand are natural partners. Thailand served as Vietnam for reway to the world both during the colonial period and thereafter. When Democratic Republic of Vietnam was founded in 1945, Bangkok was chosen as the place for our first diplomatic representative office. Though Thailand was one of the last ASEAN countries to establish diplomatic relations with Vietnam, thanks to our leaders’ collective vision it became the first ASEAN member with whom Vietnam established a strategic partnership. The people of Vietnam and Thailand see each other as respectful, trustworthy friends and good business partners. Our Prime Ministers agreed last year on three principles for enhancing the bilateral relationship, which were namely mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual benefit. This is the solid foundation for our relations in a new era of common prosperity, sustainable development and regional security. Looking forward, we have many opportunities to further enhance our comprehensive relations.


There are six main areas relevant to enhancing Vietnam-Thailand relaions. First, geographically, we are close to each other with more connectivity by land and air. Second we are in the same continental Southeast Asian and Mekong Sub-region. Economic development is essential; new channels of cooperation such as labour, connectivity, joint government and business fora are opening up. Third, bilaterally we have to reach of how range of area for cooperation. The action plan to implement a strategic partnership until 2018 covers 21 mutually beneficial fields from political security to trade investment, from RID to education and environment etc. Fourth, it was a launch about the strategic partnership 3 years ago, and setting up the appropriate mechanisms to discuss immediately and openly Any pressing issues that may arise. In addition to the joint cabinet retreat, we now have the Foreign Ministers retreat, the counsellor consultation and the political and security dialogue. Fifth, Vietnam is the only country in the world that has concluded free trade agreements with all the members of security council. Last but not least, the Vietnamese community in Thailand has a great friendship that connects our entrepreneurs and peoples.


All of these opportunities are also accompanied by challenges with imbalance number of tourism and the tension on Vietnamese fisherman issue and the South China Sea issue. We are working hard to fix these problems.


Session 1: Thailand-Vietnam Relations:

Vietnam-Thailand: Opportunities and Challenges

Dr. Vo Xuan Vinh


Vietnam and Thailand have a deep rooted history, with trading going back to at least the 12th Century . Thereafter, the two countries have gone back and forth in their relationship, which has ultimately led to todays back fo understanding among each other. In the political and strategy dimension, both have more confidence and trust after establishing a strategic partnership. We have many kinds of cooperation. Both countries also have a common view on the South China Sea issue, aiming to create peace in the region. Moreover, trade between the two countries increased sharply from 1995 to 2015, increasing by more than an estimated 25 times. Currently Thailand is the largest trade partner of Vietnam in ASEAN.


With this strong background, Thailand and Vietnam have tremendous opportunities not only through cooperation but also by respective sharing experiences among two countries. The joint cabinet meeting is an evident for the deeper cooperation. This platform is best served for sharing view points for sensitive issues such as South China Sea dispute in peaceful means. Other areas of cooperation includes fisheries, energy and labour collaboration with various bilateral agreements between two governments. In multilateral cooperation, Thailand is a responsible ASEAN member in South China Sea. Thailand supported Philippinesointntinental Southeast AsAlong with China, it also co-chaired and organizes meetings on implementation of the COC. Furthermore, regional cooperation is also the other area of opportunity in ASEAN Economic Community with free flow of goods and service and outward trade partnerships. Both will have an opportunity to enhance economic cooperation


One of the challenges is the mind-set of people. Information provided by media and social media is sometimes negative. Second, both are small countries in terms of population and geography but with a strategic location which attracts the attention of major powers, especially China and the U.S. This will make cooperation difficult to achieve, especially in the South China Sea dispute. Consequently, the COC will have a long way to make a common ground. The rice policy and fishery issue are other areas where there are existing challenges between the two countries.


All in all, Thailand and Vietnam have both opportunity and challenges which the regional and bilateral cooperation is necessary. Creating peace and stability in this region is an essential key for further cooperation.




New Investment Opportunities in Vietnam and How to Succeed

Mr. Tharabodee Serng Adichaiwit

Bangkok bank is the first foreign bank in Vietnam after its reopening in the post-Cold War period. Vietnam is a good destination for investment with both strengths and weaknesses. Firstly, Vietnam has high political stability facilitating foreign investment. Even this year there is an internal political change, it wonc relationange in investment and economic policy. The large number of young effective participants in the labour and consumer market are also strengths. Abundant natural resources, similar to Thailand, is an essential key as well. Furthermore, large number of overseas Vietnamese is the large supporter of internal economic.


The weaknesses are unclear regulation, shortage of infrastructure, fluctuation of money market and exchange rate, shortage of workers in production hub areas, the lack of upstream industries and the electricity shortage in dry season. However, all of these problems are improving.


Apart from the improvement of its weakness and strengths, Vietnam has free trade agreements with many major countries, including the TPP. Vietnam also has an ability to recover from the 2012 crisis very quickly regarding to its government authority. The Vietnamese Dong depreciation is very low compared to other currencies. The Dong interest rate is close to Thai Baht. The surplus export is evident, FDI commitment grows 100 percent this year, the middle class continues to grow and household debt is very low which opens the room for more household consuming. The large of labour market serves perfectly for a large scale of investment.

All of these factors make the brighter future for the Vietnamese economy, which will continue to improve and may surpass Thailand in the near future. The challenges are only the tension between China and the high public debt.



Vietnam-Thailand in ASEAN: Working for Regional Peace and Stability

Mr. Kavi Chongkittavorn

Thailand and Vietnam relations have gone through ups and downs. Thailand supported the Vietnamese struggle for independence. It is clear that Thai-Vietnamese relations have never faced a critical bilateral conflict. Having said that, the relationship is very strange as it took years to establish the strategic partnership. There was a coup by the opposite wing sixty-eight days after its establishment making the relations deteriorate again. During the Cambodia conflict, although two the counties still maintained diplomatic relations, Thailand relationtaiwas unclear. All in all, it was a strain and hostile relationship between two countries during that time.


After the conflict was resolved, interestingly, Vietnam joined ASEAN in 1995. Vietnam signed the TAC and was a founding member of the ASEAN Regional Forum and SEANWFZ. Vietnam wants ASEAN to come out with the platform of a common position, but it is hard to fulfil. ASEAN has certain commonality on certain issues and on a certain level. Clearly, after Vietnam became an ASEAN member, it served as a bridge to connect with China. Now Vietnam is the main driving force for ASEAN’w overall security policy. With regards to engagement of great powers, both Thailand and Vietnam stand neutral as China and the US. Thailand should play a balancing role between both major powers because it has a good good relationship with both powers.


In the economic aspect, currently, Vietnam is moving faster than Thailand with more free trade agreements such as the TPP and a large proportion of investment from China. There is the group of CLMV, which V wanted to escape form this group. A newly emerging group is the CLMTB, which will have implications for mainland Southeast Asia.

For the strategic partnership, it is clear that both countries have deeper cooperation in many areas, such as protected labour agreement. It is very interesting that we have also have had good media relations for almost 20 years.


New Prospects of Vietnam-Thailand Labour Cooperation

Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Lan

Thailand has faced labour shortages in many sectors. In 1990s Thailand attracted a large number of workers from neighbouring countries with low wages. In the meantime, Vietnam stimulated labour exports to increase the employment rate and reduce poverty. Thereafter, about 50,000 Vietnamese workers have come to Thailand with unstable and risky conditions. Consequently, in 2015, the labour cooperation agreement between the two countries, was aimed at dispatching and receiving labour, as well as replacing out of date legislation... However, compared to other cooperation areas, labour cooperation

remains modest and slow. Construction and fishing are two areas that do not attract Vietnamese workers due to the low wages offered and their low skill levels.


There are three recommendations. Firstly, appointing the focal recruiting agencies as soon as possible in order to help Vietnamese workers to register to work in Thailand is needed. Secondly, Thailand should extend the industries receiving Vietnamese workers. Lastly, creating employment regulations, training and developing labour resource are also necessary.



East-West Corridor: How Connectivity Changes Central Vietnam

Ms. Pongkwan Sawasdipakdi

East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) was launched in a GMS ministerial meeting in Manila in 1998. This project was initiated by the ADB and sponsored by the ADB, JICA and JBIC. It planned to extend a 1,320 km continuous land route connecting the Andaman Sea in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. This can be called the R9 highway. It is expected to connect commercial nodes in Mawlamyine-Myawaddy, Maesot-Phisanulok-Khon Kean-Kalasin-Muldahan, Savanakhet-Dansavanh, Lao Bao-Dong Ha-Hue-Da Nang which are all the future-to-be important towns and gateways. R9 is also connected to the North-South corridor. Although this seemed nice on the paper, in reality, it is far from ideal.


On the ground, currently as can be observed, Mukdahan is quite quiet. It is not fancy as one would imagine. The province is now experiencing a trade deficit with regards to its import of goods from Vietnam. At the weekend, Lao people come to Mukdahan. They travelled not by the bridge but by boat. On the other hand, this highway makes more impact in Laos than in Thailand. It facilitates Laotian industrial zones. Laos gets a great deal of of benefit from its internal R9 road, but it is far from the plan. As its aim is to export goods to Vietnam and the west port, goods from Laos mostly channel to Lamchabang in the East of Thailand. Da-Nang which developed to be metropolis with IT hub, the third largest port in countries and tourist destination.


The implication from this observation, ADB really wants to transform R9 to the economic corridor by enforcing trade liberalization, creating production chains and supporting the tourism industry. In reality, there are implementation is slow paced, with no available support for medium and small enterprise and invert trade flows. The challenges come from a lack political of will, a lack of planning development strategy and a lack of collaboration which results in having very little real impact for people on the ground.



Vietnam-Thailand Cooperation in Responding to the Climate Change

Dr. Le Phuong Hoa

The impacts of climate change include sea level rises, natural disaster such as hurricane and flood and the extreme weather such as heat and drought. All of this can lead to a loss of biodiversity and ecosystem destruction, recession, conflicts and war, and insecurity of people. The natural disaster trend in Southeast Asia has been growing through since 2000. These also cause the increasing number of deaths caused by disasters. For instance, in 2011, floods claimed the lives of more than 500 people and also affected over 12 million people on the ground.

To cope with this non-traditional security threat, cooperation is essential. Thailand and Vietnam cooperated in multilateral forums such as ASEAN, GMS, ACMECS, Mekong River Commission and Mekong-Lacang. The construction of dams in the Mekong mainstream contributes to the extreme drought in the downstream countries, however there is not a formal bilateral cooperation in this issue.

As recommendations, firstly we should continue efforts to implement the commitment made in joint statements of ASEAN on climate change. Secondly, the more cooperation within the framework of Mekong cooperation is needed. Third, both Thailand and Vietnam need to set up their efforts in using

environmentally friendly technology. Both countries should also be the ASEAN pioneering countries in researching and promoting the formation of the world carbon market. Lastly, sharing information and experience in coping with climate change is necessary.



Pym Chaiyasan