Thai Ambassador to Vietnam Nikorndej Balankura.
On the occasion of the new year 2023, Thai Ambassador to Vietnam Nikorndej Balankura has granted Vietnam News Agency an interview, during which he expressed optimism about the future prospects of the Vietnam-Thailand ties in 2023 when the two countries celebrate the 10th anniversary of their strategic partnership.
Noting that more Thai investors are interested in Vietnam, the ambassador hailed Vietnam’s effective efforts to curb COVID-19 pandemic effects.
He highlighted that while most countries in the world have stagnated, Vietnam has maintained its growth which is estimated to reach 8% in 2022. Prominently, in the third quarter of 2022, Vietnam grew at a record 13.67%.
According to the diplomat, the result is very commendable, especially when one takes into account the global recession, the supply chain disruption that has been felt globally and also the fact that Vietnam has come up with a new economic trade target, becoming Net-Zero country by 2050. These all help attract foreign direct investment from around the world, particularly from Thailand.
A corner of HCM City (Photo: VNA)
Ambassador Nikorndej Balankura held that in 2023, there will be headwinds that could slow down the economy of the world. These can be seen by the global recession that might occur globally, higher inflation across the world, as well as the increase interest rates. However, despite all this slowdown, IMF still forecast that Southeast Asia, both Thailand and Vietnam, will grow positively, he noted.
“I am confident that Vietnam with the reasons I mentioned before, will maintain that growth, a high growth actually in comparison to other countries and will remain more or less well shielded from the global economic disruptions that are being caused by the recessions,” he stated.
“Also, with regards to bilateral trade, and investment, Thailand now ranks ninth among investors in Vietnam. And I foresee the strong interest in Thai foreign investors to Vietnam, as well as Vietnam economic policy that attracts foreigners. I hope that Thailand will be among the top five in the very near future,” said the diplomat.
Commenting on Vietnam’s election to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2023-2025 tenure, the Thai ambassador said that in the past years, Vietnam had very successfully been a member of the Security Council and had represented the Asia region and Southeast Asia in particular very well
“I think that the fact that Vietnam has been elected (to the UN Human Rights Council) is both commendable and well deserved. Vietnam is an ASEAN candidature so Vietnam’s candidacy has been supported by both ASEAN and of course, Thailand,” he said.
This is the second time Vietnam has joined the Human Rights Council after the first time in the 2014- 2016 tenure, he noted, adding that it will strengthen the Vietnamese human rights record, advancing the protection and promotion of human rights. He said that Thailand, which had been a member of the council from 2010 to 2013, will be running for 2025 to 2027.
Over the relationship between the two countries, Ambassador Nikorndej said that the two countries will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the bilateral strategic partnership in 2023, but the partnership has been elevated to strengthened strategic partnership, which is very special. “This is a special status that only Thailand and Vietnam enjoy in ASEAN,” he said.
“It’s a close bond shared by neighbours, by brothers and by family. So I think it’s a very special stature. And what we have achieved in the past 10 years is countless. So many things we have achieved,” affirmed the diplomat.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh (R) meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on the sidelines of the 40th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Photo: VNA)
He noted that politically, there has been exchanges of visits, both at the highest level. Economically, in the past 10 years, the ties have grown tremendously. Thailand has become the top 10 investors, second only to Singapore in ASEAN.
“And as I mentioned, with Vietnam’s economic policy that is much more open, and that Vietnam wants to achieve net-zero by 2050, I think that Thai investors on in renewable energy, digital economy will be very interested to come and invest more in Vietnam,” he said.
“In terms of social interactions of people to people, we have fostered very close ties between the two countries. And I see these ties are going to be even more strengthened because today both Thai and Vietnamese know each other more in terms of culture, language, movies, music.”
He noted that just after the pandemic, 400,000 Vietnamese have visited Thailand. Approximately 50,000 Thais have been coming to Vietnam. “And I see this number is growing, the same as the number of flights with several flights a day, and all flights are full,” he said.
Therefore, the ambassador believed that bilateral cooperation is very promising in all aspects – political, economic and people to people aspects.
According to Ambassador Nikorndej, 2023 is an important milestone for Thailand-Vietnam relations. In March, the Royal Thai Embassy plans to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Vietnam-Thailand strategic partnership by strengthening the bilateral relations in a comprehensive manner all aspects of politics, economy, culture, and people-to-people ties.
“As Vietnam is getting out of the post COVID-19 time and will be fully back to normal, and we will celebrate our partnership, so from Tet onwards I think we will have a series of activities that will make a long year of intense activities together,” he said.
Hang Luoc traditional flower market in Hanoi (Photo: VNA)
Sharing his feelings about the atmosphere of the traditional Lunar New Year (Tet) of Vietnam, he said that it is a confluence of traditional culture and modern society. It’s a very special time of a year when people is very joyful. He held that there are many similarities between the celebrations of New Year of Vietnam and Thailand. The Thai New Year, Songkran, which is in April, it is a time of the year when Thais pay respect to the elders, go on vacation and meet friends
“So I see that both New Year’s celebrations echo each other’s cultural types. Most prominently, you know, we tend to go visit our elderly, family and make merit at the temples. Vietnamese people I see that they visit the elderly as well. Usually the family gather in bigger groups and meet, and even Vietnamese abroad will fly back and meet their family here in Vietnam. So I see similarities. Thais as well, we tend to come back home during the Songkran Festival,” Ambassador Nikorndej said./.