The 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit concluded in Brussels, Belgium on October 19 with the release of a Presidential Statement affirming determination of ASEM members in strengthening partnership between the two continents in coping with global challenges and sketching out orientations to enhance intra-bloc cooperation in the future.

Prior to the closing, leaders of ASEM member countries had a discussion on regional and international issues, focusing on matters related to peace, security, anti-terrorism, non- proliferation of mass destruction weapons and maritime security.

They also discussed the complicated situation in the Middle East – Northern Africa, the Korean Peninsula, Iran, and the migration crisis. Many countries showed their concern about developments affecting security environment in Asia, including the East Sea and East China Sea.

Participants affirmed their commitment to maintaining peace, stability, maritime and overflight security, safety and freedom on the basis of full implementation of international law, as well as peacefully settling disputes in line with international law, especially the UN Charter and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982, refraining from using or threatening to use force, not conducting unilateral actions against international law, and implementing measures to build trust and ensure self-restraint.

Addressing the session, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stressed that peace, cooperation and development is the main trend of the era, but the international community is also witnessing strong changes and unprecedented challenges.

He proposed strengthening trade to maintain the recovery and ensure bright prospects of the global economy.

Vietnam supports efforts by the international community in line with the UN Charter and international law to seek peaceful and sustainable solutions to conflicts and disputes in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, he said.

The Vietnamese PM made clear that Vietnam and ASEAN members are working closely with the international community, including ASEM member countries, to maintain peace, stability, maritime and overflight security, safety and freedom, thus ensuring that freedom of trade is not hindered in the East Sea which is a big international sea route connecting trade between Asia and Europe as well as the whole world.

He underlined the need to persistently promote joint efforts, strengthen measures to build trust and preventive diplomacy, deal with disputed in a peaceful manner in conformity with international law including the UNCLOS, respect diplomatic and legal processes, and restrain from actions complicating the situation.

He also recognised initial progress in negotiation for a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), highlighting Vietnam’s proposal that all parties should continue practical negotiation to soon reach the document.

The success of the 12th ASEM Summit created new motivation for the close and dynamic partnership between Asia and Europe, thus continuing to affirming the significant role of ASEM in the shaping architecture.



Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc meets with Belgium’s former Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere (L).

At a meeting on October 18 with Steven Vanackere who is also head of a group of parliamentarians from the Flemish Christian Democratic Party and a great contributor to the growth of the Vietnam-Belgium relationship, PM Phuc said the two countries have agreed upon a score of measures to step up future cooperation, including the acceleration of the signing of EVFTA, noting that the Belgian former minister has a wealth of experience in the field.

For his part, Vanackere assured his willingness to assist Vietnam in achieving the best results in this regard, adding that as a country with certain influences in the EU, Belgium has a strong voice in the signing of the trade deal.

Vietnam and Belgium hold huge potential for elevating their partnership to new heights, he said whilst highlighting Belgian enterprises’ strengths in seaports and logistics- the areas Belgium can expand its cooperation with Vietnam.

At the same time, Vietnam has well progressed in sustainable growth, while Belgium has many big businesses in science and technology, and as such the two sides should supplement each other in this field,  the former Belgian official said.

Vietnam has made great strides in sustainable development and Belgium has many leading businesses in science and technology, this giving the chance to both sides to support each other in this realm. On higher education cooperation, Belgium wants to receive more Vietnamese students, he said.

Vanackere stated that the European Council (EC)’s adoption of the free trade agreement with Vietnam indicates the union’s goodwill and aspiration to promote the deal and suggested both sides should maintain a regular exchange of information. Vietnam should provide further information on its achievements and efforts in socio-economic development, with its open and reforming government, he said.

The Vietnamese government leader agreed with Vanackere on great potential for substantial cooperation between the two countries, particularly in Vietnam’s strengths of processing industry and agriculture, and reiterated Vietnam’s readiness to import key products from Belgium.

Phuc also extolled cultural and education cooperation as Vietnam currently has 250 postgraduates studying in Belgium and the figure is expected to go up in the future, helping to improve the human resource quality of Vietnam.

He told the Belgian former FM that during his visit, the two countries’ businesses have signed many investment cooperation documents, while heads of major regions and enterprises of Belgium also showed their wish to augment mutually beneficial cooperation with Vietnam.

The EC’s approval of the EVFTA is good news and will benefit both sides, Phuc said, while affirming Vietnam’s stance on its active international integration and constant efforts in this aspect.



During the meeting, PM Phuc briefed his host on the results of his talks with Prime Minister Charles Michel and his discussions with leaders of the parliament, regions, and communities of Belgium.

Vietnam attributes importance to relations with Belgium, a founding member with an important role in the European Union (EU), Phuc said while affirming the country’s willingness to offer optimal conditions for Belgian enterprises to do business in Vietnam.

The PM voiced hope that the King and Queen of Belgium would visit Vietnam at an appropriate time in the future.

King Philippe welcomed the PM’s visit in conjunction with the 45th founding anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties. He was reminiscent of his first visit to Vietnam in 1994 and led delegations of Belgian enterprises to the country to set up connectivity and carry out projects to improve the lives of local residents in the Mekong Delta.

The King held that he always greatly values ties with Vietnam and pays heed to Vietnam’s efforts to cope with climate change, saying that Belgium stays ready to transfer technologies to Vietnam to help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Both sides echoed their views that bilateral ties are growing steadily across a wide range of fields, especially in economics, trade, and investment, as demonstrated by nearly 70 successful projects in Vietnam.

They also suggested advancing bilateral collaboration in fields of Belgium’s strength and Vietnam’s demand such as high-tech agriculture, green technology, renewable energy, healthcare, and education-training.


Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc spoke highly of growing ties between Vietnam and the Flanders region of Belgium during a reception in Brussels on October 17 for the regional Minister-President Geert Bourgeois.


The Vietnamese PM said Flemish firms are working effectively in Vietnam in seaports and logistics, renewable energy, and mining, thus making important contributions to bilateral ties.

He asked the minister and authorities from the region to facilitate bilateral partnership in fields they hold strength and to uphold their role as a bridge for Vietnamese goods to enter Europe and other markets.

Hailing Vietnam as a leading partner in Southeast Asia for Flanders region, Bourgeois affirmed that the visit by PM Phuc will create a new milestone in the development of Vietnam-Belgium and in particular Vietnam-Flanders ties.

He thanked the Vietnamese Government, ministries, and agencies for their hospitality during his visit in May 2018 and stressed that Flanders wants to double bilateral trade and foster ties across research, education-training, and transportation.

Bourgeois said Flanders supports the signing and ratification of the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), considering it a great opportunity to develop trade and investment between Vietnam and the EU, as well as between the country and Flanders.

Following the meeting, both sides witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between Flanders and the Vietnamese Government.

At a reception for Minister-President of Belgium’s Wallonia region Willy Borsus on October 16, PM Phuc highlighted that Vietnam attaches great importance to multifaceted cooperation with Belgian regions, including Wallonia.

He lauded Wallonia for choosing Vietnam as a place to open a representative office in 1996, which has so far become a dynamic partner of the region.

The PM welcomed effective joint projects in the fields of healthcare, culture, arts, vocational training, environmental protection, and heritage protection – all towards contributing to socio-economic development in Vietnam, including poverty reduction.

The leader wished that Belgium’s major businesses will continue investing in Vietnam, adding that the country will offer all possible support to them in the process.

Borsus, for his part, said Wallonia considers Vietnam a priority partner in the region. He discussed promising fields of cooperation, such as farm produce processing and foodstuffs.

He noted that regional authorities support the early signing and approval of the EVFTA to boost trade and investment between Vietnam and Belgium, as well as between Vietnam and Wallonia.

The minister hailed Vietnamese nationals in Belgium for their contributions to socio-economic development in the host country.


Belgium’s lower house of parliament backs expanding cooperation with Vietnam at all levels, said President of the Chamber of Representatives Siegfried Bracke when meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Brussels on October 17.


Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc shakes hands with Belgian President of the Chamber of Representatives Siegfried Bracke in their meeting in Brussels on October 17.

At the meeting, both Phuc and Bracke expressed their delight at the development of the Vietnam – Belgium relations over the 45 years of their ties.

The Vietnamese Prime Minister thanked the Belgian Chamber of Representatives for its support in deepening the two countries’ relations, saying the partnership between the two parliaments has played a vital role in enhancing bilateral ties.

Bracke hailed Phuc’s visit as significant to fostering relations and lauded the Vietnamese community in Belgium and their contributions to the ties. He welcomed strengthened collaboration between the two nations in agriculture as it suits both countries’ needs.

Both sides agreed Vietnam and Belgium should work to fulfil their cooperation potential, especially in education, science-technology, maritime transport and clean energy.

Bracke also voiced his support for the early signing of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), saying it will benefit all parties as it creates an engine to bolster cooperation between Vietnam and EU countries in economics and trade.

The two sides also agreed that all concerned nations must work to maintain peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea and settle disputes via peaceful means in respect of international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is on the final leg of his visit to Belgium from October 16 – 18, being made at the invitation of his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel.

On the occasion of the visit, the two side issued a joint statement, stressing the importance of promoting trade and investment between Vietnam and Belgium and expressed their hope that the EVFTA will soon be signed and ratified.

They agreed to step up bilateral ties in diplomacy, economics, social affairs, trade, education and science and to maintain regular exchanges.

Belgium was among the first Western countries to set up diplomatic relations with Vietnam, following the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, in 1973.

Belgium is now Vietnam’s seventh largest trade partner in the EU, with two-way trade reaching US$2.7 billion last year. As of August 2018, Belgium’s investment in the country was valued at US$900 million.