Philippines and Vietnam forge strategic partnership, declare marine cooperation as cornerstone

During the state visit, Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong and Philippine President Marcos Jr. deepened their strategic alliance.

President Marcos Jr. of the Philippines paid a significant state visit to Vietnam on January 29 to 30, 2024. This is a noteworthy development with the potential to have beneficial effects that extend far, especially in the South China Sea (SCS) region. Declaring marine cooperation to be the “cornerstone” of the two countries’ strategic partnership, President Marcos stressed its significance.

In conversations with President Vo Van Thuong of Vietnam, Marcos emphasised that Vietnam is the only strategic partner the Philippines has in Southeast Asia—a relationship that was formed in 2015—and he acknowledged the recent growth in bilateral ties.

Many agreements covering a range of topics, such as high-level contacts, information sharing, education and training, defence talks, search and rescue operations, cybersecurity, and economic cooperation, were exchanged as a result of the visit. Coastguards’ “maritime cooperation” and “incident prevention in the South China Sea” were the subjects of two important security memoranda of understanding. These agreements seek to forge a comprehensive relationship between the coast guards of both countries, improve coordination, and avert undesirable situations.

The significance of preserving the South China Sea’s peace, stability, freedom of navigation, safety, and maritime security was stressed by both parties. The joint statement emphasised respect for international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as well as the necessity of exercising self-control and peacefully resolving disputes.

Vietnam’s pledge to provide the Philippines with 1.5 to 2 million metric tonnes of rice per year at reasonable prices, addressing the country’s dependency on rice imports, particularly from Vietnam, was a major economic component of the visit.

The two countries also decided to collaborate on the production of electric vehicles as a step towards sustainable growth. Later this year, investments from Vietnam’s Vinfast, led by Pham Nhat Vuong, will launch an electric car business network in the Philippines.

President Marcos asked for Vietnam’s support for the Philippines’ bid to host the Loss and Damage Fund, which aims to give money to nations most at risk from climate change, acknowledging the effects of the phenomenon.

When considering the visit in light of the changing regional and international landscape, it is clear that both countries are committed to fostering greater friendship, political trust, and all-encompassing collaboration. In light of the complicated rapidly changing regional environment, Vietnamese Prime Minister Chinh underlined the necessity of stronger cooperation.

Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia have demonstrated a united front against Chinese belligerence through their demonstrated diplomatic competence in resolving issues without the involvement of other parties. This cooperative strategy suggests a possible improvement in the contentious South China Sea environment, as well as the success of Vietnam’s Bambo Diplomacy.

Ultimately, the countries in the area are proving that they are willing to fortify their ties despite their ideological differences, a sentiment that is echoed by the recent visits to Vietnam of Chinese President Xi and American President Biden. These innovations will not just potentially resolve regional difficultires, but they also have the potential to promote economic development for all parties concerned. A more stable and cooperative future in the South China Sea is anticipated as a result of the agreements made during this visit.