Vietnam and Cambodia are two countries that enjoy a long-standing relationship. The necessity to establish cooperation between Vietnam and Cambodia has a historical precedent, especially in the periods when both nations were invaded and ruled by foreign aggressors, during which the people of the two countries took the initiative to form alliances to protect their independence and territorial integrity. Since the end of the Cold War, the trend of cordial dialogue and cooperation has become the mainstream of relations among countries around the world.
In this new context, the Vietnam-Cambodia relations have also been reinforced and promoted towards friendly cooperation, as well as respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and without interference in one another's internal affairs. Presently, after more than 50 years since the establishment of official diplomatic relations (June 24, 1967), the relations between the two countries have achieved remarkable results in all fields.
Firstly, the diplomatic and political relations between Vietnam and Cambodia have flourished in recent years. Some significant achievements include the two countries co-organizing more than 70 practical activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of establishing official diplomatic relations (June 24, 1967 – June 24, 2017); organizing the 16th Session of the Vietnam – Cambodia Joint Committee on economic, cultural, scientific and technical cooperation (May 2018); organizing the celebration for the 40th anniversary of the Victory against the Polpot genocidal regime (January 7, 1979 – January 7, 2019).
The delegation exchange activities between the two countries are well-maintained, most notably Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen’s first official visit to Vietnam (December 6-8, 2018) after the establishment of the sixth legislative term of the Royal Government of Cambodia (09/2018) and most recently National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan and the Vietnamese National Assembly delegation’s visit to Siem Reap, Cambodia to attend the 27th Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (January 14, 2019).
The governments of both countries also focus on meeting and discussing issues of bilateral cooperation on international forums and conferences such as the second biannual Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Summit held in Phnom Penh (January 2018), 10th Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Development Triangle Area Summit (CLV 10, April 2018), ASEAN Leaders Gathering in Bali, Indonesia (October 2018), etc.
Building on the momentum of flourishing political relations, economic cooperation between Vietnam-Cambodia has also witnessed rapid growth. Commercial activities between Vietnam and Cambodia have been vigorous, with trade turnover between the two countries in 2017 reaching $3.8 billion (up 30% compared to 2016); in 2018 reaching $4.704 billion (up 23.8% compared to 2017) and expected to reach the goal of $7-8 billion by 2020 according to a statement by the Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
Regarding investment, Vietnam has approximately 206 investment projects in Cambodia with a total registered capital of $3.02 billion, among the top 5 countries with the most foreign direct investment in Cambodia. In addition to FDI, Vietnam also strengthens investment cooperation with Cambodia with official development assistance (ODA) and preferential credit from the Government of Vietnam for the Government of Cambodia. Although the capital of these two investment programs is not substantial, it does help Cambodia implement a number of basic projects.
On the other hand, although there are still limitations on the economic potential, the Government of Cambodia and Cambodian enterprises have made efforts to promote investment in some projects in Vietnam, with approximately 18 projects and a total investment capital of $58.125 million. Regarding tourism, Cambodia's tourism growth prospects are considered to have major potential. In 2018, the number of Vietnamese tourists visiting Cambodia reached 500,000, solidifying Vietnam as the country with the second largest number of tourists coming to Cambodia (after China).
Cooperation in the fields of training, culture, health, telecommunications, people diplomacy, etc. has also been promoted. Currently, there are approximately 170,000 people of Vietnamese origin living in Cambodia. Therefore, the governments of both countries agreed to implement the accord on demarcation and land border markers, in order to solve legal issues for Vietnamese people in Cambodia. Up to now, the two parties have completed more than 84% of the demarcation and landmarking process, and are determined to complete this process in the near future to solidify the border of the two countries as the border of peace, friendship, cooperation and sustainable development.
Annually, Vietnam awards long-term scholarships to Cambodian students to study in Vietnam, and Cambodia also helps train Vietnamese students at the request of Vietnamese ministries, sectors and localities. Additionally, Vietnam regularly organizes volunteer doctor teams to provide medical examination, treatment and free medicine for the Cambodian people; Cambodian patients who come to Vietnam for medical examination and treatment are entitled to the same medical fees as Vietnamese residents.
The prosperity of the relationship between Vietnam and Cambodia also significantly contributes to fostering intra-ASEAN relations, the socio-economic development of the Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia Triangle Area, and bolster the development of the Greater Mekong Subregion.
The two countries have closely cooperated at regional and international forums such as the Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam Summit (CLMV), the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), ASEAN, Asia-Europe Meeting forum (ASEM), etc., which contributes to strengthening the solidarity and cooperation, as well as enhancing the capacity and standing of ASEAN. In the framework of ASEAN economic cooperation, Vietnam and Cambodia have participated in many sub-regional cooperation, most notably the Greater Mekong Sub-region Cooperation (GMS), the East-West Economic Corridor, the Economic Cooperation of Vietnam-Thailand-Laos-Cambodia-Myanmar, etc., facilitating positive intra-regional economic cooperation, with an aim to turn ASEAN into a competitive production area in the world market.
The Government of Vietnam and the Royal Government of Cambodia always attach great importance to developing bilateral relations, and thus in the coming period, relations between the two countries will continue to be extensively promoted. During a leisure tour in Vietnam (October 19-22), Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni emphasized that "Vietnam is a good friend, and a close and dear neighbor of the Cambodian people; the Cambodian people appreciate the valuable support and assistance that the Party, State and people of Vietnam provide for Cambodia in all circumstances"; affirming the continued effort for solidarity and good cooperation between the two nations.
Additionally, at the meeting between Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Cambodian Royal Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen (December 7, 2018), both parties affirmed the consistent policy of always placing high priority to reinforcing and developing their relationship of "good neighbor, traditional friendship, comprehensive cooperation.”
Both governments also agreed to increase visits and contacts between leaders, at senior and all levels; effectively promote the current 22 bilateral dialogue and cooperation mechanisms; strengthen defense-security cooperation; commit to encouraging enterprises from both sides to promote business investment in each other's markets; reaffirm the recognition and fully implement the border planning treaties and other agreements and accords regarding border issues signed by the two countries.
According to Vietnam News Agency, at the invitation of the King of Cambodia Norodom Sihamoni Vietnamese Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong will make an official visit to Cambodia by February 25-26. The visit has a special meaning, an occasion for both countries to look back on the long history of relations over the past 50 years, affirm the achievements, learn from experiences, awaken potentials, elevate relations between the two countries to new, greater heights, with increasing expansiveness, quality and efficiency.