HCMC – President Vo Van Thuong and his wife, Phan Thi Thanh Tam, began a six-day, three-nation Europe tour on July 23.
They departed from Noi Bai International Airport to undertake an official visit to Austria, a state visit to Italy, and a visit to the Vatican at the invitation of Austrian President Alexander Van der Belle, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, and Pope Francis.
This marks the President of the Vietnamese Government’s first visit to Austria in the past 15 years, as well as the first exchange of national heads of state between Vietnam and Italy and the Vatican in the last seven years. The visit holds significance as it falls within the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties and the 10th anniversary of a strategic partnership between Vietnam and Italy.
The President’s visit aims to strengthen and deepen bilateral relations between Vietnam and Austria, Italy, and the Vatican, thereby bolstering Vietnam-EU relations and contributing to the development of ASEAN-EU ties.
Diplomatic relations between Austria and Vietnam were established in 1972. In 2021, bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to US$3.35 billion, showing a 5.5% increase compared to 2020. However, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, two-way trade in 2022 declined by 16.7% to US$2.79 billion.
Vietnam and Italy established diplomatic relations after the signing of the Paris Convention in 1973, which was later upgraded to a strategic partnership in January 2013. In 2022, two-way trade reached over US$6.2 billion, indicating an 11% increase compared to the previous year. Vietnam stands as Italy’s largest ASEAN trade partner, while Italy ranks as the third largest EU trade partner of Vietnam.
Since 1990, the Vatican has sent delegates to Vietnam for discussions on bilateral relations and matters concerning the Catholic Church in Vietnam. Since January 2011, the Vatican has appointed a non-resident representative to Vietnam. Currently, Archbishop Marek Zalewski, based in Singapore, holds the position of non-residential papal representative to Vietnam. Additionally, there are 40 Vietnamese Catholic preachers and priests pursuing their studies in the Vatican.