Forty years ago, on 10 January 1976, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and Kuwait established their diplomatic relations. In fact, Kuwait was one of the first countries in the Middle East to establish diplomatic ties with Vietnam right after its reunification of the country. It was the very first country among the GCC countries to open its Embassy in Ha Noi and its Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City in 2007. And moreover, Kuwait was the first country in the GCC that Vietnamese Government chose to set up its Trade Representative Office in 1993 and its Embassy in 2003.
For a long time, Viet Nam and Kuwait have enjoyed very good relations. The peoples of the two countries share the aspiration for independence, freedom and peace. Both nations have been struggling very hard to achieve these goals.
Looking back at the development of the Viet Nam-Kuwait relations during the past 40 years, we are proud that this relationship is built on the foundation of friendship, mutual respect and understanding and strong solidarity of the two Governments and Peoples, and today, the relationship continues to grow strongly in many areas.
In the political – diplomatic field, following the success of the official friendly visits of the leaders of the two countries, such as the visits by then Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah (5/2007) and his Vietnamese counterpart Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dzung (3/2009), the two sides continue to intensify the exchange of visits at all levels to build mechanisms and framework for effective cooperation. Recently, H.E. Marzouq Al-Ghanim, Chairman of Kuwait National Assembly visited and attended the IPU-132 (2014) and H.E. Minister Plenipotentiary Musaed Saleh Al-Thwaikh, Acting Assistant of Foreign Minister for Asian Affairs co-chaired the second Political Consultation between the two Foreign Ministries in Ha Noi (2015). H.E. Truong Tan Sang, the State President of Viet Nam congratulated His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on the occasion of naming the State of Kuwait as a "Humanitarian Centre" and Granting His Highness the Title of “Leader of Humanitarian Work” by the United Nations (2014). Moreover, Vietnam has actively supported Kuwait in the regional and international organizations and forums. Fine political relations have been increasingly strengthened, contributing significantly to the promotion of bilateral relations in various fields.
The economic, trade and investment relations of the two countries have been well developed. Since 1979, the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) has been providing about US$150 million (preferential loans) for 13 infrastructure development projects in the rural, mountainous and remote areas in Viet Nam (Bac Kan, Dien Bien, Ha Tinh, Hoa Binh, Nam Dinh, An Giang...), thus helping to improve the living standards of the local people.
The most prominent spot in investment cooperation between Viet Nam and Kuwait is the formation of Nghi Son Oil Refinery and Petrochemical Project in Thanh Hoa Province, Central Viet Nam - one of the largest investment projects in Viet Nam, with a capital of US$9 billion. The joint venture contract was signed in 2008 between PetroVietNam, Kuwait Petroleum International Company (KPI) and two Japanese partners (Idemitsu Kosan Corp (IKC) and Mitsui Chemicals Inc (MCI)), of which KPI hold stakes of 35.1 percent and has committed to supply 100 percent crude oil for the plant in the long term. Construction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2016, and commercial operations are expected to commence in mid-2017 with a refining capacity of 200,000 barrels per day, equivalent to 10 million tons per year.
On trade relations, the highest two-way trade volume was recorded in 2011 (US$837 million). It is expected that, once the commercial operations of the Nghi Son Oil Refinery and Petrochemical Project are commenced, the total trade volume may reach US$2 billion by 2020. The main export items of Viet Nam to Kuwait include seafood, agricultural products (fruits and vegetables, tea, coffee, rice, pepper, cashew nuts, cinnamon), wood products, iron and steel products, fabrics, textiles, footwear, mobile phones (Samsung) and accessories.
The economies of our two countries are both dynamic and each possesses complimentary advantages. We are happy with the current development of bilateral economic cooperation. However, there are obviously more opportunities to cooperate for Vietnamese and Kuwaiti businessmen. The Government of Viet Nam always welcomes and encourages Kuwaiti businesses to invest in Viet Nam, particularly in the fields of infrastructure, construction, agriculture, finance, banking, energy and hospitality.
Along with the success of bilateral economic, trade and investment cooperation, some achievements in other fields have also been recorded in recent years: since 2010, there have been 15 Vietnamese students granted scholarships by the Government of Kuwait to study Arabic at the Language Centre of Kuwait University; more Kuwaiti businessmen and tourists have also been coming to Vietnam.
On the occasion of 40th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Viet Nam and Kuwait, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to His Highness the Amir of the State of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, His Highness the Crown Prince of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, His Highness the Prime Minister of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, and the People of Kuwait for their valuable assistance and strong solidarity given to Viet Nam in the course of national construction, protection and development and for the valuable and continued support rendered to the Embassy of Viet Nam in Kuwait.
And also, as the State of Kuwait is celebrating its 55th Anniversary of Independence, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the State of Kuwait and its People and wish them a peaceful and prosperous future under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of the State of Kuwait.
May the relations of friendship and cooperation between Viet Nam and Kuwait be further consolidated and developed, for the benefits of the two peoples, for peace, stability and prosperity in the region and in the world.
Nguyen Hong Thao
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to Kuwait