Viet Nam’s New Position in the World

Former Vietnamese Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet.

Viet Nam becomes a new member of the World Trade Organization in Geneva today. And APEC leaders will meet up in Ha Noi in a few weeks. We are happy as now we can step confidently into the common “playground” of the majority as we no longer belong to the minority of the world.

These two events would not have happened if there hadn’t been “doi moi” (renewal). A simple lesson that we can learn from this is that a nation can make real friends with every other nation only when it can assert its independence.

In the late 80’s, the time of the events in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Eastern Europe, Viet Nam had just started its renewal. Viet Nam's production had just recovered, and its inflation was rampant. The USSR was almost the only support for Viet Nam at that time.

Later on, when the brother USSR could no longer cooperate with us comprehensively, Viet Nam had no choice but to stand on its own feet.

Yet we didn’t collapse like so many had predicted; we grew strongly instead. When we couldn’t depend completely on one friend, we saw the hands of many friends.

Viet Nam has joined ASEAN and normalized relations with China, the International Money Fund, the European Union and the United States, and now is becoming a WTO member.

In order to achieve the present position, Viet Nam had to give up State subsidies. The system was so bureaucratic that it had become a major factor inhibiting the country’s development.

“Doi moi” was a process of liberating the resources for development. The participation of different economic and private sectors, households and individual citizens has strengthened the country’s economy, which was being exhausted by the state’s rapidly growing exclusiveness.

The participation of different economic and private sectors, households and individual citizens has strengthened the country’s economy. (Photo: T.C)

Viet Nam has reduced the gap with the rest of the world. The Vietnamese people have adopted the values of mankind easily.  Unlike what was feared initially, by renouncing bureaucracy Viet Nam has gone the only real way, which is the one of cooperation and development.

However, it is not enough to be equipped with confidence to enter the WTO. We have fought off competition in this country, but global competition lies ahead. With the new competition, enterprises have to be dynamic, the economy has to be effective, and support from the State is also needed.

In order to have a simple and flexible State system, which can boost social and economic development, we need to carry out more internal reforms that are effective for the country’s political system.

Accordingly, authorities such as the National Assembly and the People’s Council must belong to the people and be well run to prevent corruption, abuse of authority and wasteful budget spending, and we need a judicial system that can inspire the people’s confidence.

Our WTO journey is not only about economic reforms. The WTO itinerary is persuasive thanks to its target. There is nothing more important for a target than going to the end of the humanity values of the nation and mankind. The target has awoken the country’s internal potentials, especially human potential, and appealed to outside human and financial resources.

This target can connect and create a common strength for the Vietnamese community inside and outside the country.

Only going to the end of the humanity values of the nation and mankind can sustain Viet Nam’s independence, strengthen its position, and create new relationships for the country.

By Vo Van Kiet-Former Prime Minister -Translated by Hoang Yen

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