Promoting the role of diplomacy in attracting foreign resources for national development
The Secretariat of the 13th Party Central Committee on August 10, 2022, issued Directive 15-CT/TW on eco-diplomatic activities in service of national development to 2030”. This Directive stresses the vanguard role of eco-diplomacy in mobilizing external resources for national development.

Ass. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Hong Son

Deputy Head of the Economic Commission, Party Central Committee

Producing automobile tires at a plant of the China-invested Sailun Vietnam Co. Ltd.__Photo: VNA

The 13th National Party Congress has clearly set out the orientation to promote the vanguard role of external relations in general and eco-diplomacy in particular in the cause of national development. Therefore, in face of extremely extensive and intensive developments of the world economy, which have greatly affected the economies of many countries, including Vietnam, further promotion of eco-diplomacy to attract foreign resources has become an urgent requirement at present.

Active service of national socio-economic development

After reviewing Directive 41-CT/TW of the Secretariat of the 10th Party Central Committee “on intensifying eco-diplomatic activities in the period of accelerated national industrialization and modernization”, the Secretariat of the 13th Party Central Committee on August 10, 2022, issued Directive 15-CT/TW on eco-diplomatic activities in service of national development to 2030”. This Directive stresses the vanguard role of eco-diplomacy in mobilizing external resources for national development. It clearly stated: “Eco-diplomacy constitutes the basic and central task of the Vietnamese diplomacy and an important driving force for fast and sustainable national development; it plays the vanguard role in mobilizing external resources, contributing to the acceleration of industrialization and modernization, the enhancement of economic potential, competitiveness and adaptability, the building of an independent and self-reliant economy, and to the active comprehensive, extensive, intensive and effective international integration”.

Later, on February 20, 2023, the Government adopted Resolution 21/NQ-CP on its 2022-26 Program of Action for materialization of Directive 15-CT/TW. It has helped boost the vigorous development of eco-diplomacy from the thinking, awareness to action of ministries, ministerial-level agencies, localities and enterprises, becoming the central task of the entire diplomatic sector.

In reality, the recent “external relation and international economic integration activities have greatly contributed to the mobilization of external resources for intensified industrialization, modernization and socio-economic development”[1]. Vietnam has established economic-trade ties with 230 countries and territories, which account for nearly 90 percent of the world GDP, and participated in more than 500 bilateral and multilateral trade agreements (including 17 free trade agreements- FTA)[2]. With nearly 200 high-level external relation activities (2020-23), economic cooperation is considered the focus, achieving many breakthrough results in market expansion, creating new growth drivers such as establishment of digital partners, green partners, and new-generation ODA. Moreover, economic cooperation with many partners has become deeper and more substantive; new partnership frameworks have opened up new opportunities for cooperation and new spaces for development, making full use of new development trends and new resources for the economy. The network of FTAs continues to expand in couple with the effective implementation of the already signed FTAs[3].

At the 32nd diplomatic conference in last December, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong assessed: “External relation and diplomatic activities have taken the lead in the mobilization of external resources, making important contributions to the performance of socio-economic development tasks, particularly expanding and raising the effectiveness of external economy. Since 2021, despite serious impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and world economic and trade depression, our country’s economy remains a bright spot in not-so-bright picture of the global economy; the macro-economy remains basically stable; inflation, public debts, government debts, foreign debts, and state budget deficit have been under control; the major economic balances have been guaranteed. The economic growth in 2022 reached 8.03 percent and is forecasted at over 5 percent in 2023, which is higher than other countries in the region and the world; for the first time, our country’s GDP exceeds USD 400 billion, ranking third in ASEAN and entering the group of 40 biggest world economies and the 20 top economies in trade and foreign investment attraction”[4].

In 2022 and the first eight months of 2023, within the framework of eco-diplomacy, Vietnam organized more than 120 working missions to localities, nearly 100 activities connecting international partners as well as overseas Vietnamese enterprises with localities, and supported the conclusion of over 250 international cooperation documents. Heads of overseas-based Vietnamese representative offices worked with nine ministries and sectors, and more than 100 Vietnamese business associations and large enterprises to grasp their demands for cooperation promotion and removal of difficulties. In addition, they stepped up the supply of updated information for localities, associations and enterprises on new international trade and investment trends as well as regulations that can affect the export and investment attraction; provided more market information, and helped verify foreign partners; and actively supported the protection of legitimate interests of Vietnamese enterprises in international trade disputes”.[5]

It can be said that eco-diplomatic activities have witnessed new steps of development towards comprehensiveness, substance and higher efficiency, actively contributing to the mobilization of external resources, successfully performing the tasks of COVID-19 pandemic prevention and fighting while accelerating the socio-economic recovery and development.

However, Directive 15-CT/TW also pointed to the limitations after 12 years’ materializing Directive 41-CT/TW. The perception of authorities at different levels and sectors about the position, role and importance of eco-diplomacy remained inadequate; eco-diplomacy still fails to closely follow the national development situation and requirements, and link with defense, security, and socio-cultural diplomacy in order to create aggregate strength. The economic ties with a number of important partners have met with numerous difficulties, interest intertwining has not been profound and substantively efficient; external resources have not been effectively combined with domestic resources; the eco-diplomacy research, forecast and strategic advice have been not up to the task requirements. Support for sectors, localities and enterprises in external economy and international economic integration remains inadequate and inefficient.

Promoting new posture and strength to boost national development

In order to promote the vanguard role of eco-diplomacy in attracting external resources for national development in the current context as stated in Directive 15-CT/TW, importance should be attached to the following solutions:

First, it is necessary to clearly define the central task of eco-diplomacy in attracting external resources for national development in the current context. This means that external resources need to be attracted for implementing strategic breakthroughs to promote the development of digital economy and green economy. More specifically, external resources should be utilized for improving the institutions for development of digital economy and green economy; developing infrastructure facilities and building high-quality human resources and sciences-technologies up to the development requirements of digital economy and green economy.

This is the central task for some reasons. Firstly, strategic breakthroughs will create widespread and active impacts, leading to breakthroughs in all sectors and all domains in the economy as already affirmed in the Party’s documents, particularly the 13th National Party Congress’s documents[6]; secondly, digital economy and green economy are new economic forms, determined as new driving forces, helping the economy develop faster, more sustainable;[7] thirdly, it is important for the economy to develop in line with the general trends of the region and the world, generating the consonance in development and making full use of positive impacts of these trends, especially of the fourth Industrial Revolution, thereby helping achieve the national development targets to 2030 and the vision towards 2045.[8]

Second, further efforts should be made in propagating and studying the Party’s viewpoints in the 13th Party Congress’s documents and Directive 15-CT/TW on the role of eco-diplomacy in national development in the new context, thus creating consensus and raising awareness of all levels and sectors from central to local levels, enterprise community and people about the vanguard role of eco-diplomacy in attracting external resources for national development, particularly implementing strategic breakthroughs for the development of digital economy and green economy; about the viewpoints on selective attraction of foreign investment; and about the undertaking to take people, localities and enterprises as at the center of service.

Third, it is needed to promote to the utmost the positive impacts of implemented diplomatic activities such as the results of high-level visits to Vietnam by Chinese General Secretary and President Xi Jinping (in December 2023), and US President Joe Biden (September  2023); to further apply effectively new diplomatic forms such as digital eco-diplomacy, climate diplomacy, technological diplomacy, the 2022-26 plan of actions for climate diplomacy, Just Energy Transformation Partnership (JETP) with the group of top industrial countries in the world (G-7) and Europe, digital economy and green economy partnership with Singapore, green strategic partnership with Denmark, strategic green finance partnership with Luxembourg, new-generation ODA with the World Bank (WB) and Japan, Memo of Understanding (MOU) on cooperation with the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2023-26 period, etc., and diplomatic activities to attract big investors with high technologies, especially in semi-conduct domain; attracting resources of overseas Vietnamese for investment in service of national development.

Fourth, diplomatic activities should be directed toward attracting external resources for implementing strategic breakthroughs in the development of digital economy and green economy into practical, urgent and leading areas for national development, taking into due consideration the demands of localities and enterprises. Concretely:

- Building special and advanced mechanisms and policies as well as regulatory sandbox for promoting innovation and digital economy and for regions and localities tasked with leading the process of innovation, digitalization and green transformation such as the Red River delta and Hanoi capital region, southeastern region and Ho Chi Minh city region; mechanisms and policies for carbon credit market, green finance, green public procurement. The green growth objectives, targets and solutions must be connected with the socio-economic development objectives and norms; building digital culture and green living culture with people placed at the center and nobody left behind. These are extremely important as digitalization and green transformation are not just technological and technical transformation, but more importantly the transformation in perception and institution.

- Building socio-economic infrastructures capable of standing natural disasters, storms, floods, severe weather, especially in midland and mountainous regions in the north, northern central and coastal central Vietnam, Central Highlands or infrastructures capable of adaptability to climate change and sea level rise, helping to apply the philosophy of “nature-friendly” development in the southwestern region; or the building of chains of smart cities resistant to natural disasters, epidemics and efficiently adaptable to climate change; building smart power grids, developing various renewable energies; and building digital universities.

- Raising the quality of people’s life,[9] building high-quality human resources to master technologies and meet the requirements of developing the digital economy and green economy such as digital technology and semi-conductor engineers.

Fifth, it is necessary to continue conducting efficiently the research, consultation and forecast on new economic development trends; experiences of other countries around the world on institutional improvement; building infrastructures and developing human resources for development of digital economy and green economy.

Sixth, it is important to bring into the fullest play the pillars of modern and comprehensive diplomacy including the Party external relations, the state diplomacy and people-to-people diplomacy; diplomacy of all levels, sectors and localities in order to attract diverse external resources (talents, material resources, human resources, intelligence resources) in a selective way for the implementation of strategic breakthroughs, aiming to develop digital economy and green economy, for instance high-quality foreign direct investment (FDI), green technology, quantum technology, artificial intelligence (AI), green finance, and green ODA capital.

Vietnam is embarking on a new development stage with a new position and strength, with a clear vision and more specific objectives and greater aspiration for national development in prosperity and happiness. This is the stage of more sustainable and more inclusive development, relying more on increasing the efficiency of different resources and innovation in the international and regional situation with many fast, vigorous and unforeseeable developments. Therefore, profound understanding of the Party’s and the State’s undertakings, viewpoints, guiding principles and orientations on socio-economic development along with promoting the vanguard role of eco-diplomacy in attracting external resources for making strategic breakthroughs in the development of digital economy and green economy will create new motivations and atmosphere and further heighten the determination of the diplomatic sector, other sectors, localities and enterprises to successfully achieve the  national socio-economic development objectives in the coming period.-

[1] Nguyen Phu Trong: “To build and develop the comprehensive and modern Vietnamese diplomacy deeply imbued with the identity of ‘Vietnamese bamboo’”, the National Political Publishing House, 2003, p. 33.

[2] Ibid, p. 34.

[3] Thanh Giang: “Striving to strongly boost the economic diplomacy in service of the country”, December 21, 2023, to strongly boost economic diplomacy in service of the country-post788548.html.

[4] Full text of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s speech at the 32nd diplomatic conference. The Government e-paper.

[5] Nguyen Minh Vu:” Economic diplomacy actively contributes to national development”, E-paper of the Communist Party of Vietnam, August 28, 2023.

[6] The 13th National Party Congress’s document, Ibid, vol.1, pp. 203-204.

[7] Ibid. vol.1, pp.117, 227.

[8] By 2025, Vietnam will be a developing country with industry toward modernity, beyond the low average income level; by 2030, a developing country with modern industry, upper-middle income; and by 2045, a developed country with high income. The 13th National Party Congress’s document, Ibid. vol.1, p.112.

[9] Objectives to 2030, the human development index (HDI) reach 0.75 and by 2050 reach over 0.8 as set forth in the National Strategy on green growth in the 2021-30 period, the vision toward 2050, Prime Minister Decision 1658/QD-TTg of October 1, 2021.

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