APEC Vietnam 2017 comprised a series of key events as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) that took place from early December 2016 to November 2017 in Danang and many other large cities including Hanoi, Nha Trang, Vinh, Ninh Binh, Ha Long (Quang Ninh), Hue, Can Tho, Saigon and Hoi An (Quang Nam). The focus was stated as “Creating new momentum and building up a common future altogether.”
As part of the APEC High-Level Conference Week 2017 in Vietnam on November 10th and 11th, many heads of states of economies with great impact on the world, notably China, the United States, Chile, and Canada, visited and strengthened official diplomatic ties with Vietnam.
For Canada, in the lead-up to the APEC Conference and in response to the invitation of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid an official visit to Vietnam on November 8 and 9. The result was the establishment of the Vietnam-Canada Comprehensive Partnership.
Canada and Vietnam have enjoyed good diplomatic ties since 1973. Both countries have also made attempts to push for common goals, international joint development, economic growth and enhancement in trading ties. Vietnam is emerging as the largest trading partner of Canada in the ASEAN. Educational cooperation is also playing a flagship role and serves as a crucial pillar in the multi-dimensional cooperative ties of both countries. The Vietnamese expat community in Canada is the fifth largest among non-European groups, trailing only Chinese, Indian, Philippine and Jamaican expat populations. Vietnamese people settle in all provinces of Canada. Around 250,000 Vietnamese people are living, studying and working in Canada, and they act as effective ambassadors for civil exchanges between the two countries.
At the meeting, Prime Minister Trudeau hit the bronze cymbal – one of the rituals to launch the first trading session of listed companies on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange. He also addressed keen attendees in Ton Duc Thang University and shared his early career goals, “I used to dream of becoming a teacher,” he said. Getting to know the city, he enjoyed a cup of coffee at vendor, and was seen in his blue sports suit jogging across Nhieu Loc Canal where he spoke hospitably with the locals.
Upon landing in Vietnam, Prime Minister Trudeau impressed many with his enchanting and charismatic style. Browsing through social media these days, it’s quite common to see images of the prime minister and comments such as “He rivals any actor with his handsome looks,” or “He enthralls us all not only with his looks but also with his elegance, talent and innate friendliness.”
Also in attendance, American President Donald Trump gave a striking speech mentioning the Two Ladies of Trung and the country’s passionate patriotism. He stressed that Vietnam was one of the miracles of the world in the APEC Conference with focused on protection of national interests, fair trade and a win-win formula. He also thanked the country on his twitter page. Unexpectedly he gave a bouquet to a 11-year-old boy in the presidential welcoming delegation. President Trump said, “I was able to travel to some regions of Vietnam and they were exceptionally beautiful. Vietnamese people were so happy that they waved to us. They adored America, and perhaps they also adored me. Tens of thousands of people lined the street and we were so grateful for this.”
On a major forum, a Vietnamese netizen wrote: “The three latest American presidents who had visited Vietnam left me with great impressions of their profound knowledge, down-to-earth and friendly style and mannerism. Our people admire them and warmly welcome them, who deserve to be true leaders.” Vietnam has always regarded the United States as a top trading partner and investor, laying the foundation for bilateral ties. American brands have also grown in popularity in Vietnam and corporate America has made heavy investments and done business with high returns in Vietnam.
APEC Conference Week 2017 has ended, but the aftermath ripples can still be felt. Vietnam hosted the conference more successfully than anyone had anticipated according to the general conclusion of APEC heads of states as well as international delegates who attended. Vietnam’s place on the international playing field has been secured and enhanced. Extension of international macro exchanges at a global scale is key to the rapid development of Vietnam with major partners, notably the U.S. and Canada. The successful APEC Conference is expected to cement further projects in the comprehensive foreign affair relations of Vietnam with potential partners in the years to come.