This week, New Zealand’s vice chief of defense paid a visit to Vietnam. While the engagement was just one of many between the two sides which have continued through 2018, it nonetheless offered some insights into where the defense component of the relationship is now and where it is headed in the future.
Vietnam and New Zealand have been shaping the defense realm of their collaboration as part of their wider relationship, which was elevated to a comprehensive partnership back in 2009. The two sides inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on defense cooperation back in 2013, and they have attempted to increase cooperation in aspects such as exchanges, education, and training, as well as in functional areas which include disaster relief, defense industry and research, and tackling transnational rimes.
That trend has continued on into 2018. Both sides have been continuing to deepen collaboration in areas such as peacekeeping and making inroads on a three-year defense cooperation action plan that runs out to 2021 that they had earlier agreed to. This area of ties has also featured in key interactions between the two sides during the year thus far, including Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visit to New Zealand in March.
This month, the relationship was in focus again when New Zealand’s Vice Chief of Defense Force, Air Vice Marshal Tony Davies, paid a visit to Vietnam. The visit saw Davies meet with a range of Vietnamese officials, including the head of the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) Phan Van Giang.
During the visit, both sides took stock of their defense ties and outlined steps for future cooperation in the years ahead. According to Vietnam’s defense ministry, during talks between Davies and Nguyen Ngoc Minh, the deputy chief of the VPA, the two sides reviewed recent accomplishments in their defense ties within the context of their defense MOU as well as the cooperation plans for the 2018 to 2021 period.
Unsurprisingly, few specifics were publicly issued with respect to further details. But as Vietnam-New Zealand ties prepare to go into some anniversaries in the coming years, with the 10th anniversary of the comprehensive partnership in 2019 and the 45th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties in 2020, when Vietnam will also be assuming the annually rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the future evolution of the defense realm of the relationship will continue to be interesting to watch.