In a display of strengthened diplomatic and economic bonds, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, commonly known as Jokowi, visited Hanoi and engaged in talks with Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong. The leaders emphasized key aspects of cooperation, including security concerns in the South China Sea and corporate investments in Indonesia, particularly in the electric vehicle (EV) sector.
Addressing the contested South China Sea, President Vo Van Thuong underscored the significance of preserving peace and stability in the region. The joint statements from the leaders highlighted a memorandum of understanding on fisheries cooperation, possibly addressing tensions arising from Vietnamese fishermen's activities in disputed waters.
Ahead of the visit, Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi expressed readiness to collaborate with other Southeast Asian nations in finalizing a long-awaited code of conduct for the South China Sea. The matter, crucial for trade and energy flows, is expected to be a focal point during discussions in Hanoi.
Indonesia and Vietnam, in 2022, took a significant step by acknowledging the boundaries of their Exclusive Economic Zones in the South China Sea, challenging China's expansive claims over the strategic trade route. Indonesia's plans to export gas to Vietnam further underscored their commitment to regional cooperation.
During the visit, President Jokowi praised Vietnamese electric vehicle maker VinFast's $1.2 billion investment plans in Indonesia, showcasing a shared commitment to sustainable development and energy transition. This investment is poised to bolster Indonesia's position in the evolving global electric vehicle market.
President Thuong encouraged Indonesian firms to increase investments in Vietnam, extending the cooperation beyond the EV sector to other areas, including banking. The leaders also signed a memorandum of understanding on information technology and communication cooperation, aiming to foster advancements in these critical sectors.
Bilateral trade between Indonesia and Vietnam witnessed a 23% increase, reaching $14.1 billion last year. Both nations expressed their goal to elevate this figure to $15 billion, reflecting the growing economic collaboration between the two Southeast Asian countries.
Jokowi's visit to Hanoi is part of a broader Southeast Asian tour, demonstrating Indonesia's commitment to regional partnerships. The President's engagements in the Philippines, Vietnam, and an expected visit to Brunei signify the nation's active role in fostering diplomatic and economic relations in the region.
While in Vietnam, President Jokowi is set to visit VinFast's EV factory, symbolizing the importance of sustainable technologies in shaping the future of Southeast Asian economies. Despite not meeting Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, the visit contributes to Vietnam's strategy of enhancing ties with global partners.
In conclusion, the meetings between Indonesia and Vietnam mark a positive trajectory in regional cooperation, with a focus on security, trade, and sustainable development, reinforcing their commitment to fostering a stable and prosperous Southeast Asia.