By Manh Hoa – Translated by Uyen Phuong
Wifi dual band
The Hanoitimes – Each locality has to assess its own risk and decide on suitable preventive measures, avoiding major impacts on people’s lives and economic activities.
There should be a balance in efforts to pursue the dual target of containing the Covid-19 pandemic and boosting economic growth, according to Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
|Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc speaks at the meeting on August 12. Photo: VGP.|
Appropriate measures are required to protect citizens’ well-being against the pandemic, but a lockdown at large scale not only disrupts economic and social activities but also causes negative sentiment in the public, stated Mr. Phuc at a government meeting on August 12.
Mr. Phuc said this is a big dilemma for all leaders, adding both central government and local authorities are concerned about issues of unemployment and hardship that the people are facing.
Accordingly, each province and city has to assess its own risks and decide on suitable anti-pandemic measures in order to avoid major impacts on people’s lives and economic activities, Mr. Phuc urged.
The PM noted localities should continue to focus on quick identifying, isolating and testing of infected cases. Hanoi and Danang are taking over 10,000 tests per day.
He requested the Ministry of Health to provide support for localities in a timely manner, both in expertise and resources, while medical staff, police and army forces taking part in this Covid-19 fight should be equipped with sufficient protective clothes to avoid cross-infection.
All production facilities, industrial parks, or hospitals have to set up their own safety criteria and strictly follow preventive measures, Mr. Phuc added.
So far, there have been over 16 million people using the contact tracing app Bluezone, which Mr. Phuc said is encouraging news, but the number should be increased further for the app to be highly effective.
Mr. Phuc expected the acceleration of the development of Covid-19 vaccine and treatment regimen for Covid-19 patients, as well as online health records for the people.
At the time of writing, Vietnam has reported 883 Covid-19 cases and 17 deaths.
The Hanoitimes – Local authorities should enhance supervision activities of market situation for timely intervention, which is in line with market-based principles and the goal of stabilizing macro-economic conditions.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked government agencies to stay cautious and active in inflation and price management policy to aid the dual target of both containing the Covid-19 pandemic and boosting economic recovery.
|Vietnam PM urges a cautious approach in controlling the inflation. Photo: Pham Hung.|
Prime Minister Phuc, who also heads the government’s Steering Committee on Price Management, gave the remarks in a directive released on January 27, saying the priority is to continue addressing difficulties for the business community by stabilizing market prices, particularly basic necessities with high demand during the festive period.
“Local authorities should enhance supervision over market situation for timely intervention,” he noted.
“Such move, if needed, should be in line with market-based principles and the goal of stabilizing macro-economic conditions,” stressed the Prime Minister.
Mr. Phuc requested government agencies, provinces and cities to review overlapping laws and regulations in price management policy to enhance efficiency of state management in this regard.
“Each city and province are responsible to stockpile sufficient supplies of goods and products to meet consumers’ demand ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, especially those in the central region that were heavily affected by natural disasters,” stated Mr. Phuc.
According to Mr. Phuc, efforts are needed to better analyze and forecast market supply-demand and prices, including drafting price management scenarios per month, quarter and year to control inflation efficiently.
“The core inflation rate should be kept below 2.5% in 2021 to create room for overall price management,” asserted Mr. Phuc.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade is tasked with managing the price of petroleum products in a flexible manner and follow the market mechanism, while setting up different options for electricity prices in 2021.
The Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development will closely monitor pork prices and supply, especially before and during the Tet holiday.
By Hoang Bac – Translated by Kim Khanh
The year 2020 marked a milestone in Vietnam’s history of foreign relations, when it for the first time undertook two great responsibilities – ASEAN Chair and Non-permanent Member of the UN Security Council.
The year 2020 marked a milestone in Vietnam’s history of foreign relations
At the plenary session of the UN General Assembly on June 7, 2019 in New York, the US, President of the UN General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espinosa announced that Vietnam was elected a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2020-2021 term, with 192/193 votes.
In the auditorium, representatives of the countries in the General Assembly applauded and congratulated Vietnam for obtaining a record high number of votes, the highest ever in the last over 70 years since the UN establishment.
Five months later, for the second time, the applause of thousands of international guests resounded once more in Bangkok when Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha handed over the ASEAN Presidency to Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The Thai Prime Minister said that he believes Vietnam will take over the ASEAN Presidency with pride and realize the ASEAN’s dream of promoting partnership to maintain peace, freedom, security and prosperity in the region.
In 2020, the world’s political, security and socio-economic situation changed quickly and unpredictably. Large countries intensified strategic competition, while tensions and conflicts escalated in many regions. Non-traditional security challenges such as Covid-19, climate change, water security, terrorism and organized crime spread and were harder to control in a “flat world”.
Vietnam had great advantages thanks to its increasingly high international position and prestige, its foreign policy which aims at independence, self-control and love of peace, and the willingness to “proactively participate and promote the role in multilateral mechanisms, especially ASEAN and UN” as set forth by the 12th Party Congress.
In messages conveyed when receiving the twin responsibilities, Party Secretary General and State President Nguyen Phu Trong stressed that in order to fulfill the great responsibilities assigned by the international community, it is necessary to consider this ‘one of the most important political tasks for the Party and the State’.
|The year 2020 marked a milestone in Vietnam’s history of foreign relations, when it for the first time undertook two great responsibilities – ASEAN Chair and Non-permanent Member of the UN Security Council.|
Phuc also affirmed that Vietnam will “do its best to successfully assume the responsibility of a non-permanent member of the Security Council ” and that “with unanimous consensus and strong commitment, we will successfully realize our goal for the ASEAN Community and for ASEAN people”.
Partners for sustainable peace
With the spirit as “partners for sustainable peace”, Vietnam gives prominence to the observation of the UN Charter and the basic principles of international law. It supports the finding of solutions to regional and international disputes and conflicts through negotiations, taking into account the legitimate interests of stakeholders. It is always ready to share experiences on national reconstruction and development, international and regional integration.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Hoai Trung said Vietnam participated in the UN Security Council’s activities confidently, proactively and substantially, both affirming its stance and showing objective points of view and a flexible way of handling issues.
Vietnam quickly caught up and performed well with the role of coordinating activities, negotiating documents, and representing the Security Council in relations with other countries, the UN Secretariat, international and regional organizations as well as media.
With Vietnam’s initiative, the Security Council had historic activities, including the organization of a meeting on cooperation between UN and ASEAN. The Security Council for the first time had 111 speeches, the highest ever figure so far. This was also the first time the Security Council issued a separate statement on the UN charter.
Countries attached importance and listened to Vietnam’s opinions on dealing with complicated issues in Asia such as Iran, Hong Kong and Rakhine (Myanmar). International media and scholars made positive comments on Vietnam’s contribution to the Security Council. There was a perception that Vietnam was the focus of global attention with its position, prestige and “dual responsibility” in 2020.
Vietnam also demonstrated its capability to preside over and manage the work of the agencies belonging to the Security Council, especially the committee for monitoring the implementation of the Security Council’s resolution on South Sudan.
Vietnam handed over the ASEAN Presidency 2021 to Brunei on November 15, 2020.
Vietnam implementef its strong leadership role in a challenging geopolitical environment and made the best demonstrations to celebrate the 25th anniversary of ASEAN establishment.
Vietnam successfully organized the 36th and 37th ASEAN Summits online and semi-online, and 30 online meetings at ministerial level, and tens of consultancy meetings.
Commenting about the results of the initiatives deployed by Vietnam, ASEAN countries believe that the topic put forward by Vietnam is very accurate which has become a brand of ASEAN – cohesive and proactive adaptation.
Vietnam’s success in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic has an important significance to the ASEAN leading role.
The initiatives such as the ASEAN foundation for response to the epidemic, the regional emergency medical supplies reserve and the ASEAN center for responding to public health emergencies were applauded.
With great efforts by Vietnam, RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) Agreement was signed in 2020, which was considered the biggest success of the block, helping affirm ASEAN’s central role in East Asian economic structure.
The Party Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations held a meeting in Hanoi on February 3 to inform diplomatic missions and international organisations in Vietnam about the outcomes of the 13th National Party Congress.
In 2020, Vietnam secured breakthrough success in diplomacy despite adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Hoai Trung affirmed
Securing growth despite COVID-19, natural disasters
Statistics indicate that the sector enjoyed a growth rate of approximately 2.65% to meet domestic consumption and export requirements. Although the COVID-19 pandemic brought about challenges, agro-forestry and fishery exports hit US$41.25 billion in value, representing a record high figure.
Hoang Van Tu, representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Vietnam, notes 2020 marked a special year for Vietnamese farm produce exports despite disruptions in the global shrinking market and supply chain.
|Rice production is a bright spot in the overall picture of the national economy.|
“While Vietnam’s agro-forestry and fishery exports kept rising, other countries saw their farm produce exports decrease considerably, even by 30%,” Tu says. “This is because the country successfully brought the COVID-19 pandemic under control and stabilised production. In addition, it knew how to take advantage of filling the gap in the market to increase exports.”
Experts single out rice production as a bright spot in the overall picture of the national economy in 2020, noting that with a total output of 42.7 million tonnes, the agricultural sector was able to meet the dual goal of ensuring national food security and maintaining exports.
Furthermore, aquaculture can also be considered a success story in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic evolving in a complex manner. The disruption faced by the global supply chain and the shrinking of the global market forced seafood processors to seek out new outlets overseas whilst continuing with efforts to develop the domestic market.
Due to this approach, farmers capitalised on preferences brought about by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) to boost aquaculture. As a result, total seafood output reached an estimated figure of over 8.4 million tonnes in 2020, up 1.9% compared to the previous year; of which exploitation brought more than 3.84 million tonnes, up 2.5% while farming reached about 4.56 million tonnes, up 1.4%.
Eying domestic market, capitalising on FTAs
According to Assoc. Prof. & Dr. Dao The Anh, deputy director of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic the domestic agricultural sector played an important role in ensuring national food security and maintaining export trends.
“When the epidemic broke out, non-agricultural workers in the city lost their jobs and returned to their hometowns, imposing a considerable burden on agricultural production. Yet, the sector has stood firm, helping to generate income for the laid-off workers and maintain its export capacity,” says Dr. Anh.
Most notably, the expert points out that this can be viewed as a short-term direction that is occurring during the epidemic. In order to stabilie and develop sustainable production it is therefore necessary to consider the matter from different perspectives.
“Currently, climate change is threatening not only agriculture production but also the value chain in many regions of the world,” notes Dr. Anh. “We need to introduce solutions to adapt to climate change. Mountainous areas are most vulnerable from climate change, therefore ensuring national food security and nutritional security should be an issue of primary concern. For production areas, it is imperative to apply authorised standards, because it is easy to open a market, but it is not easy to penetrate a market.”
Moreover, alongside training farmers and applying information technology to production, businesses should strive to take advantage of opportunities from new generation FTAs as a means of producing quality products and meeting demanding markets overseas.
At present, the country has a long way to go in order to meet its goal of becoming an agricultural powerhouse and a sustainable agricultural developer.
Dr. Dang Kim Son, director of the Institute of Strategic Policy and Rural Development, says the global economic crisis driven by the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many firms, including local ones, to adjust their investment strategies in an effort to adapt the situation. As investing in the green economy is a future trend, agriculture represents one of the sectors that will continue to attract investment in the long run.
“The development of Vietnam’s agriculture over the years has relied a lot on a large number of households, small farmers, and small and medium – sized enterprises. The domestic sector will find it difficult to compete against other rivals in the international market that requires high quality products, sustainable production, and environmentally friendly factors,” stresses Dr. Son.
According to Dr. Son, enterprises play a decisive role in the development of the industry and service sector, although enterprise-based agricultural production is not the only way. In line with this, successful models of agricultural production in various Northeast Asian economies indicate that it is necessary to boost farmers’ connectivity through co-operatives, farmers’ associations, and unions, all of which should be empowered by the state.
“It is crucial whether or not we really put farmers in a central role in the production process in line with the Party resolution No. 26 NQ/TW on agriculture, farmers, and rural areas?” Dr. Son points out.
Moving forward, developing deep processing for local agricultural products will also be an urgent requirement when the nation opens its doors for new generation FTAs as it will ultimately enable the agricultural sector to sharpen its competitive edge in the domestic market whilst penetrating new markets overseas.