His Excellency Bui Thanh Son, Deputy Foreign Minister of Vietnam
Vietnam is seen as one of the great public health success stories of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since recording its first cases of COVID-19 on 2 January, the country of 96 million people has reported only 324 confirmed total cases and zero deaths. The government has received high praise for its effective handling of the crisis with a combination of mass quarantine, contact-tracing and testing. In April, Vietnam was one of the first countries to ease social distancing measures.
Having been successful in addressing the public health crisis of COVID-19, Vietnam now faces a severe economic test. With its economy highly dependent on foreign trade, investment and tourism, recovery will remain difficult as other countries struggle to contain the virus. Nonetheless, as countries and businesses look to diversify supply chains as a result of the crisis, opportunities exist for Vietnam to position itself as a key player in the post-COVID global economy.
Alongside the economic toll, the COVID-19 crisis also stands to significantly impact Vietnam’s foreign policy ambitions as ASEAN Chair in 2020 and non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council from 2020-2021. With COVID-19 dominating the agenda, observers have suggested that 2020 is “Vietnam’s lost year”, as the country’s objectives and plans now take a backseat.
Speaking from Hanoi by video, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Bui Thanh Son will reflect upon the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Vietnam, including its diplomatic ambitions and how it is continuing to pursue its agenda as ASEAN Chair and UNSC member amid the crisis. Deputy Minister Son will also discuss geopolitical tensions, the outlook for UK-Vietnam relations, and the role of trade agreements including the CPTPP, RCEP and the EU-Vietnam Agreement.
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