China-Vietnam Trade Working Group
China and Vietnam are close neighbours in East Asia and important trading partners. According to the data disclosed by the National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBS), the total trade between China and Vietnam amounted to USD 192 billion, accounting for more than 4% of Beijing’s international trade in the year and making Vietnam the most important partner in South-east Asia. Besides the amount, it is interesting to note the significant increase compared to 2019 for Chinese exports to Vietnam (+16.3%) and Chinese imports from Vietnam (+22.4%). The figures disclosed by NBS in September 2021 confirmed the importance of Vietnam as a trading partner of China, with a total volume of trade equal to USD 168 billion in the first nine-month period of 2021 (+28.9% compared to the same period of 2020). Chinese exports to Vietnam increased by 31.3% to USD 102 billion, and Vietnam exports to China went up by 25.5%, reaching USD 66 billion.
On a path to strengthen relations and cooperation between both sides, the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce worked together on an ‘Unimpeded Trade Working Group’ Memorandum of understanding (MoU) for 2021-2025. The MoU includes a Vietnam-China Working Group collaboration and mutual promises to cooperate in economic and technical circumstances.
Under the recent collaboration, Vietnam and China are to develop trade and investment on both sides to create better opportunities and promote economic growth. This mutual agreement is important as Vietnam connects to China by land and sea, the only country in Southeast Asia. Both sides have to enhance and facilitate the connectivity on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which will ultimately improve regional integration and stimulate trade and economic development. As part of the ongoing collaboration with the BRI, Vietnam and China should also cooperate on the ‘Two Corridors and One Belt’ initiative, which seeks to develop the economic and trade collaboration between local provinces of the two countries.
Vietnam and China should work together to protect international equity and justice, along with mutual strategic interests. Both sides should also explicitly set themselves against any sort of unilateralism or mistreatment.
Vietnam and China have agreed on further facilitating ideal circumstances when permitting goods across the Vietnam-China border. To tackle the consequences that businesses had faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, both countries are willing to work on the reification of business operations and continue providing support for doing business on both sides.
In addition, it shall also be noted that China and Vietnam are both members of ASEAN – China Free Trade Agreement, signed in 2004, in force from 2005 and currently fully implemented, and are also among the signatories of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the largest free trade agreement by volume of trade, signed by 15 members in 2020 and expected to enter into force in 2022.