Vuong Dinh Hue, Vietnam’s top legislator and chairman of the National Assembly, arrived in the Philippines on Wednesday for a three-day official visit upon the invitation of Philippine Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.
The Southeast Asian countries aim to balance trade ties and collaborate on digital information, cybersecurity, defense, education, tourism, and science and technology.
This is the first official visit by Vietnam’s NA chairman to the Philippines after 16 years.
Chairman Vuong also expressed his intentions to “enhance the partnership” between the legislative branches of the two nations.
In a meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday, the Vietnamese leader said he is looking forward to building upon excellent relationships between the two countries.
“And under your leadership, we will continue to work closely together, and I am very confident under your leadership and your experience, you will help contribute further to strengthen the bilateral relations between our two countries and also in helping elevate the role and position of the Philippines on the global stage,” he added.
Vuong also told Marcos Jr. that Vietnam will cooperate with the Philippines in “food security, climate change, defense, and food supply.”
Marcos Jr., on the other hand, thanked Vietnam for the stable supply of rice, which continues to help his country to ensure food security. Although the Philippines is also a rice producer, there’s not enough supply for its population. Thus, the need for importation.
In fact, according to the August 2022 data from the General Department of Vietnamese Customs, the Philippines still ranked first in Vietnam’s rice consumption, reaching more than 305.2 thousand tons, valued at $140.1 million, a sharp increase of 255% in volume and 203% in turnover compared with February 2021.
The Philippines consume 65% of the total volume and 63% of Vietnam's total rice export turnover.
With those facts, Marcos Jr. suggested that Vietnam should increase the import of Philippine goods in a bid to balance the trade ties. In response, Vuong said Vietnam plans to import more commodities and goods from the Philippines.
“And also believe that apart from rice trade, we can expand our current relations to the import and export of construction materials, particularly cement,” he said.
Moreover, both sides agreed to share information and support each other to consolidate solidarity, voice, and the central role of ASEAN in common security issues in the region.
Business forum to boost investment
To lay the groundwork for further strengthening trade and investment ties bilaterally, Vietnam and the Philippines organized a business forum on investment between the two nations.
According to Vuong, House Speaker Martin Romualdez has already agreed to attend the forum with business leaders from both nations.
In a statement, Marcos Jr. said the forum will “open new opportunities for Vietnamese businessmen wanting to invest in the Philippines.” He added that previous business and commercial tie-ups between Vietnamese and Filipino investors developed and strengthened relationships.
“So, it looks like those of us in government will have to catch up to the business community and strengthen and find new ways to coordinate, to help one another, especially as we come out of this pandemic economy and with the problems that we are feeling because of the conflict in Ukraine,” the Philippine leader said.