Vietnam's Ambassador to Thailand Nguyen Tat Thanh said over the weekend that Thailand and Vietnam, as the two biggest economies in mainland Southeast Asia, should focus on and enhance maritime cooperation, notably for resource and security management.
Speaking at a seminar on “Vietnam-Thailand Cooperation for Sustainable Management of Maritime Environment and Resource in the Asean context”, held on Friday at Chulalongkorn University, Thanh said a five-year action plan jointly mapped out by the two countries covered many areas concerning maritime issues, including environment, resource and security management.
Safety and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the “East Sea”, are also in the action plan that will implement a strategic partnership between the two countries, he said.
Members of Asean including Vietnam are at loggerheads with China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, but Ambassador Thanh did not say how Thailand could play the role in the issue.
The third Joint Cabinet Retreat meeting held in Thailand in July, co-chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung, agreed to have measures to enhance bilateral cooperation in various fields including maritime, he said.
“With regard to the maritime environment and resource, they [both countries] are brainstorming on what should and can be done,” Thanh told the seminar.
Not only Thailand and Vietnam but also Asean, which is becoming a community by the end of this year, has also paid much attention to cooperation on maritime issues, he said.
“As the largest two economies in the continental Southeast Asia region, with very long coastlines and a common maritime border, Thailand and Vietnam share responsibility in initiating a new model of cooperation in sustainable development of the maritime environment and resources, he said.
“This is to serve our own interests and at the same time demonstrate to the rest of the region how our community can be,” he said.