Germany, Vietnam commit to strengthening cooperation in defense, energy transition, labor and vocational training

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and German Prime Minister Olaf Scholz before entering meeting

Germany and Vietnam have just signed three cooperation documents in the fields of defense, energy transition, and labor and vocational training. The signing took place on the occasion of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to Vietnam from November 13-14 at the invitation of Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

Prime Minister Olaf Scholz and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh had talks on November 13 and held a press conference afterwards.

Vietnam’s state-controlled media quoted PM Chinh as speaking at the press conference, assessing that the relationship between Vietnam and Germany has continued to develop positively over the years and Vietnam has become Germany’s largest trading partner in the Southeast Asia.

At the meeting, Vietnam asked Germany to soon ratify the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement to create conditions for promoting economic relations, and asked Germany to push the European Commission (EC) to soon remove its IUU Yellow Card for Vietnamese seafood.

The head of the Vietnamese government also expressed his wish that Germany would continue to maintain ODA and concessional loans, support Vietnam in infrastructure development, transform growth models, and promote vocational training, renewable energy and health.

According to Reuters, the visit of the German Chancellor shows Vietnam’s growing role for Germany in the global supply chain at a time when German businesses are considering diversifying their production activities and expanding their presence outside of China, which is currently implementing a No-COVID policy.

Germany and Vietnam established a strategic partnership in 2011.

According to state media, Germany is Vietnam’s largest trading partner in the European Union (EU). Vietnam is Germany’s largest trading partner in Southeast Asia and the sixth largest in Asia. Total bilateral import and export turnover in the first seven months of the year reached nearly $7.3 billion, up 18.5% over the same period in 2021.

Germany is the 18th largest investor out of 141 countries and territories investing in Vietnam, with a total registered FDI of $2.34 billion as of October 31. Germany has provided ODA of more than $2 billion to Vietnam. During the complicated development of the Covid-19 pandemic, Germany donated more than 10 million doses of vaccines to Vietnam. There are more than 7,000 Vietnamese students studying in Germany.

Relations between the two countries, however, also faced difficulties in 2017 when Germany accused the Vietnamese secret service of kidnapping Trinh Xuan Thanh – a former Vietnamese oil and gas industry official who was accused of corruption – right in Berlin. At that time, Mr. Thanh was waiting to apply for refugee status in Germany.

After this abduction, Germany decided to freeze strategic relations with Vietnam and demanded that Hanoi return Mr. Thanh to Germany to follow the necessary legal procedures.

Hanoi confirmed that Mr. Trinh Xuan Thanh had returned to his home country to turn himself in and showed the image of Mr. Thanh surrendering on state television to prove this.

Relations between the two countries were restored to normal at the end of 2018.

However, German courts continue to try suspects involved in the kidnapping of Mr. Thanh. Most recently, the trial of Mr. Le Anh Tu at the Berlin High Court began on November 2. This person is believed to be a secret agent of Vietnam and had assisted and abetted in the kidnapping of the former official. (Translated)