President Phúc, I am glad to see you again. It’s been two years since our meeting at the 2019 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit. I congratulate you on your election as President during your National Assembly’s meeting session earlier this year. I was told that it was the first time an incumbent prime minister was elected President. I believe it is the result of the Vietnamese people’s active support for the outstanding achievements made in the economy, foreign affairs and the prevention and control of COVID-19.
Viet Nam’s astounding economic growth has continued even amid the COVID-19 situation. Its GDP growth rate last year reached 2.9 percent, the highest among key Southeast Asian countries. In the first half of this year, Viet Nam has also accomplished sky-high growth exceeding 5 percent. Viet Nam is one of the countries with a young population and the fastest growing middle class. I am confident that such potential will provide it a foundation from which to leap higher by 2045.
Viet Nam and Korea have grown very close. Approximately 9,000 Korean businesses are operating in Viet Nam, and our two countries are advancing together as strategic cooperative partners. Korea is Viet Nam’s third largest trading partner and No. 1 investor while Viet Nam – as a key partner of Korea’s New Southern Policy – is our fourth largest trading partner. Our two countries have also had very vibrant people-to-people exchanges with over 200,000 of our respective citizens living in each other’s country. We have also worked together effectively on COVID-19 responses.
Our two countries are further strengthening cooperation with the goal of achieving US$100 billion in trade by 2023. At the P4G Summit held in May, we laid the foundation for cooperation in response to climate change. We are also expanding cooperation in future growth areas such as digital technology, biopharmaceuticals and finance.
I hope that today’s summit with Your Excellency will usher in a new future for our two countries and serve as a steppingstone to build an era of prosperity in Asia together.