Security and Economic Challenges in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region and Korea-Vietnam Cooperation

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Asia Society Korea hosted its November luncheon on Tuesday, November 20. Those in attendance were fortunate enough to listen to the Vietnamese Ambassador to South Korea, H.E. Nguyen Vu Tu, giving a lecture titled “Security and Economic Challenges in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region and Korea-Vietnam Cooperation.” 

The ambassador opened with remarks about the stability and peace that the Indo-Asia-Pacific region has been able to enjoy over recent decades. H.E. Nguyen noted that the majority of countries throughout the region have cooperated and prospered as a result, and there are a vast number of international initiatives and agreements demonstrating this cooperative trend. The ambassador, however, pointed out that there are challenges in the region that threaten to harm and push back the progress that has been made. 

H.E. Nguyen also shared his feelings on the current friction between China and the United States. He noted that Vietnam and Korea have a part to play since the power struggle could pull countries within the region in different directions. Nevertheless, the ambassador hopes that with time and work these complexities will be overcome for the benefit of everyone. 

The ambassador then went on to talk about two other primary challenges that the region is up against at the present time. First, he mentioned the tensions on the Korean peninsula, but he spoke positively about the improvement in relations over the past year due to the continued dialogue that has been taking place between the major parties involved. The second is the South China Sea dispute, which he believes is a serious issue that needs to be settled through dialogue and other peaceful means and in compliance with international law.

Before taking questions from the distinguished guests in attendance, H.E. Nguyen made some interesting observations about the relationship between Korea and Vietnam. He noted that the two countries first agreed to engage in diplomatic relations as recently as 1992, but in 2009 it was upgraded from a cooperative  partnership to a strategic cooperative partnership. This bond, he noted, has had huge benefits for both countries in the areas of security and the economy. The ambassador pointed out that Korea is currently Vietnam’s second largest trading partner, and Vietnam is the fourth largest trading partner of Korea. H.E. Nguyen added that the FTA between the two countries has helped accelerate the relationship and the benefits are being felt by both countries. 

H.E. Nguyen closed by accepting that the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region is now in a period of uncertainty but that it will be overcome if countries such as Korea and Vietnam maintain strong and positive relationships. Finally, the ambassador was courteous in taking and responding to a number of questions from those in attendance before another intriguing luncheon was wrapped up.