People-to-people diplomacy is an important strategy in the diplomacy of Vietnam for nearly a century. It is the result of the creative application of Ho Chi Minh's diplomatic thought about combining the national strength and the power of many other  nations over the world. For a long time, people-to-people diplomacy has become a beautiful value that not only connects Vietnam with other nations but also fosters the foundation of mutual understanding and respect among the people, states, and political parties around the world. It can be said that thanks to people-to-people diplomacy based on Ho Chi Minh's diplomatic thought, Vietnam has gained important achievements, contributively bringing Vietnam to reach a new position. This strategy has influenced not only foreign affairs but also many fields of other developmental activities in domestic. People-to-people diplomacy has also formed a front of all  people over the world- an important force that connects  people in solidarity for supporting Vietnam to buildan independent and unified nation, towards constructa modern and developed Vietnam. 


During more than 75 years of Vietnam-US relations, including 26 years since its normalization, people-to-people diplomacy has stably developed and continuously reached new achievements. In the framework of increasingly expanding relations at many levels based on the Vietnam-US relationship, people-to-people diplomacy has also been expanded regarding friendly exchange activities, strengthening mutual understanding, enhancing mutual trust between the two sides in order to promote mutually beneficial cooperation in all fields.

In reality, people-to-people diplomacy of Vietnam is unified in strategic guidelines but changes from time to time to suit the whole nation's common tasks. If in the past, people-to-people diplomacy was oriented towards political tasks associated with the national independence and freedom, in the early years of the twenty-first century, people-to-people diplomacy has been prominent in economic, trade, and enterprise external activities, developing based on mutual benefits.

The Vietnamese Government always creates favorable conditions for the development of people-to-people relations, because it is an important channel for Vietnam to promote effective cooperation with the US. Through people-to-people diplomacy, businesses of the two countries can seek and exploit each other's advantages to promote cooperation in economic and trade projects. And it can be seen that, along with economic activities, culture, education and many other fields of social life are also connected and developed in many aspects between the people of the two countries.

Trade economy - an important foundation for Vietnam-US relations in the new era

Entering the third decade of the 21st  century, the Vietnam-US relation has achieved important milestones in many aspects, including politics, economy, military and defense, and culture. That brilliant mark is the result of the cultivation and tireless efforts of many generations of Vietnamese diplomats. In the period of global economic integration and the digital century, digital technology has made remarkable changes, and Vietnam-US relations in general and people-to-people diplomacy, in particular, have also undergone inevitable transformations. Economy and trade are not only a goal towards both sides, but it also becomes the foundation for the sustainable development between the two countries.

Considering the development of people-to-people diplomacy in this period, the Vietnamese government has determined that enterprises of the two countries are the force of the front line. Since the relation between two countries was normalized relations from 1995 to 2000, the trade turnover between Vietnam and the US has increased from US$ 450 million to US$1.09 billion. However, by 2020, this is the first year that the total trade turnover between the US and Vietnam has surpassed the US$90 billion mark and is aiming for US$100 billion in 2021.

In the generally last 5 years, Vietnam's export turnover to the US has increased by 230%, while exports from the US to Vietnam have also grown by more than 175%. The United States has been Vietnam's largest export market, and Vietnam has become the 10th largest trading partner of the United States. According to the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AmCham), Vietnam's position is increasing as the leading supplier in the ASEAN region to the US. From an ASEAN member country with the lowest export turnover to the US, Vietnam has now become the largest exporter, accounting for 21.6% of total ASEAN exports to the US, not only increasing in quantity but quality and value-added goods of Vietnam also exported to the US are increasing day by day.

However, if the trade is a bright point of economic relations between Vietnam and the United States, the US direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam is still quite modest compared to the figure of US$4 trillion of foreign direct investment of the US (as of 2017) and the US's FDI in Asia and ASEAN. By the end of 2020, the total registered investment capital of US enterprises in Vietnam reached more than US$11 billion, ranking 12th  among countries that have investment projects in Vietnam. Many well-known brands such as Citigroup, American Group, Intel, Chevron, Ford, Starwood Hotel, AIA, Dickerson Knight Group, Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, KFC... have a strong foothold in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the US is one of the overseas investmentsthat Vietnam is most interested in. Currently, there are 202 investment projects in the US with a total registered capital of US$1.04 billion, ranking 8th  among 79 countries and territories. In 2020 and the first 3 months of 2021 alone, there are 25 investment projects from Vietnam into this country with a total registered capital of 372.4 million USD.

Despite the difficulties of the Covid pandemic, Vietnam's export turnover to the US in the first quarters of 2021 still has a spectacular growth rate and tends to remain throughout the year. According to the Department of Agricultural Product Processing and Market Development (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development - Agriculture and Rural Development), the US is still Vietnam's largest export market in the first quarter of 2021 with a turnover of US$21.2 billion, up 32.8% over the same period last year. 

The imprints of "Win-win cooperation"

With the strong and comprehensive development between the two countries, especially in the field of economic cooperation, people-to-people diplomacy is facing new opportunities, forcing this strategy to have changes in order to not be restricted in the traditional fields of cooperation, that expand to other fields such as the economy - trade - investment. These strategic changes have brought new opportunities for the Association's external work and in fact, we have achieved positive results.

Right from the beginning of this term, the leader of Vietnam – US Society determined that "win-win cooperation" is the foundation to ensure sustainable development of people-to-people relations. Along with pure friendship and solidarity activities, including informational working for friends, participanting in events, Vietnam-US Society has promoted ideas and projects of cooperation between the two sides, towards specific interests. This view helps us to approach the new requirements in the Vietnam-US "Comprehensive Partnership". To make more friends and partners with the US, Vietnam needs to establish mutually beneficial cooperation and exchange relationships. The vast majority of Americans who visited Vietnam have their goal of exploring business opportunities and developing business.

Since 2020, Vietnam - America Society and Vietnam - US Magazine have cooperated with Hanoi UNESCO Travel Club (HUTC) to co-organize the Seminar "Developing the Vietnam-US tourism market and introducing America tourist attractions". This program has attracted the participation of the Vietnamese - US Entrepreneurs Club, airlines, domestic and foreign travel companies


Being awareness of the importance of small and medium enterprises for the economic cooperation and development of Vietnam-US relations, the Society has promoted many different activities and focused on small and medium-sized enterprises. The Business Club, the Vietnam-American Business Council (VABC) organizations (on the East Coast of the US), and the Information Technology Development (VIDG) (on the US West Coast) were established and their useful activities have been carried out.

During the last term, many meaningful activities such as the Seminar "Vietnam - US Business: Program to introduce investment opportunities in Rockingham, Virginia, USA" (2019), Seminar "Exchange and cooperation between Vietnamese - American enterprises" supported by Vietnam IT Development Company (VIDG) (2020) were organized by Vietnam-US Society in order to promote mutually beneficial exchanges and cooperation between genders, industries, businesses and organizations between the people of two countries. Since 2020, Vietnam - America Society and Vietnam - US Magazine have cooperated with Hanoi UNESCO Travel Club (HUTC) to co-organize the Seminar "Developing the Vietnam-US tourism market and introducing America tourist attractions". This program has attracted the participation of the Vietnamese - US Entrepreneurs Club, airlines, domestic and foreign travel companies.

Based on the nature of all cooperations, Vietnam - US Society has focused on expanding the membership network of the Vietnamese to have a counter-force with the US side. The Society has admitted a significant number of members who are businesses and business organizations in different industries such as tourism (Hanoi Association), garment (May 10), construction, and agriculture (coffee). 

However, with the motto of the Society, although emphasizing economic, trade, and tourism meetings and contacts, it has to expand to the different fields, including cultural exchange and education, focusing on studying the issues of mutual concerns of  the Mekong and other friendly activities based on ensuring the interests of both sides. It can be seen that these  thoughs and actions have proved the vitality of Vietnam – US Society and its activities over the years. In addition, this awareness has also contributed to promoting various activities in content, simultaneously, attracting more different forces in society to participate in traditional activities of friendship and solidarity between people of the two countries.  

At present, when Vietnam and many countries in Southeast Asia are straining against the covid -19 pandemic due to the widespread outbreak of the Delta variant, the strategy of "vaccine diplomacy" has been adopted. Vaccine diplomacy is both an urgent and a long-term solution to ensure the source of vaccines protecting people's health and creates conditions to restore normal economic, production, and business activities. For this issue, the US through Covax has supported Vietnam with more than 6 million doses of vaccines. Thus, in the complicated context of expanding covid-19, the US government's support is demonstrating the internal strength of people-to-people diplomacy in particular and the diplomatic strategy of Vietnam in general. People-to-people diplomacy becomes the foundation for implementing this strategy by the Vietnamese State and Government.

A journey makes people-to-people diplomacy become "business diplomacy"

From people-to-people diplomacy with characteristics that associated with the country's political destiny to "business diplomacy" in Vietnam-US relations today is a fundamental change in quality, an important transition, and an inevitable change in the current period of Vietnam. If a romantic love story tells about a couple of the American guy Evan Farfan and the Vietnamese girl Thuy Tien who  overcame the distance and pandemic to be together bythe end of 2020 seems to not only bring inspiration about the optimism of people in the midst of the loss due to the epidemic Covid-19 but also from a deeper perspective, perhaps it is the most substantive sign of the relationship of "people-to-people diplomacy". It shows that the understanding, cooperation, and cohesion between two cultures, two political institutions, and the ability to adapt of the new young generation despite the differences have given us the trust in the solidity of people-to-people diplomacy in the new era.

According to statistics of the Vietnam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), there are currently about 700,000 SMEs, accounting for about 97.5% of the total number of enterprises, contributing over 31% of the total state budget revenue and attract more than 5 million workers. Every year, SMEs contribute about 40% of GDP; 30% of the payment to the state budget, 33% of the industrial output value, 30% of the value of exported goods, and creating nearly 60% of jobs. SMEs have been present in most regions and localities, making good use of and exploiting local resources.


In the context that the 4th industrial revolution is taking place eventfully, creating changes in all aspects of global socio-economic life, businesses in general and SMEs, in particular, are an important factor in promoting economic growth, strengthening competition, encouraging innovation and technology development, creating more jobs and revenue for the state budget.

The potential for developing economic and trade cooperation between companies and enterprises of the two countries through the Society's channels is extremely open. Currently, Vietnam has established trade relations with more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Over the past time, Vietnam has negotiated and signed important Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Vietnam - European Union FTA. - EU (EVFTA), Vietnam - Korea FTA, ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), North American FTA (NAFTA), Australia - US FTA (AUSFTA). Participation in FTAs , as well as other international organizations, opens up a more favorable path for businesses, including small and medium enterprises, as well as the entire Vietnamese economy with trade partners in the world. At the same time, foreign enterprises, including American ones, are increasingly interested in the Vietnamese market, integrating Vietnam into the global supply chain, creating quality jobs for Vietnamese workers, and opening a new market for American goods and services.

It is clear that the need to integrate into the international economy of small and medium-sized enterprises is very great today, and Vietnam-US Society with its extensive people-to-people diplomatic network will certainly be a useful bridge for them to connect information, and expand their productions. Also, people-to-people diplomacy has special strengths like that of water with soft and flexible characteristics that are able to go to every corner; softening, cleansing, and screening. However, when needed, it can create great power like a flood. In a complex international environment where objects and partners are intertwined in both struggle and cooperation based on interests, so these cooperations can create personal relationships with businessmen, politicians, public figures through the people-to-people diplomatic channel. From that, we can flexibly combine both sides of cooperation and struggle in accord with each moment and each object, supporting effectively for Party and State diplomacy as well as promoting economic diplomacy.

However, the quantity and quality of companies, organizations and enterprises that are developing according to the Society's channel are considered to be not wide and deep enough. Thus, the new cooperation should be changed and has been executed basing on mutual understanding and sufficiently exchanging information. Recently, due to the impact of the epidemic, activities in this field have faced many difficulties and interruptions. To overcome the mentioned difficulties, some solutions to develop the businesses, especially for small and medium enterprises, are as follows:

Some suggestions for business development

• Providing information network support for small and medium-sized enterprises: Provide complete and timely information about the situation, investment prospects, and economic cooperation between Vietnam and the United States, in which focus on the fields that are suitable for small and medium enterprises through Vietnam - US Magazine's publications and websites. Developing the Magazine into a useful, important, and prestigious information channel is not only to create a bridge but also becomes a prestigious handbook for businesses of the two countries, becoming a "messenger" to help Vietnam - US trade flow is coming.

• Developing specific cooperation programs by signing program agreements and building relationships through affiliate members, together bringing Vietnamese products and goods to American friends more.

• Increasing members who are small and medium enterprises participate in the Society's network to foster the  strength of Vietnam – US Society

• Supporting for trade promotions: Vietnam- US Society and Vietnam-US Magazine, as the focal point, will coordinate with the relevant units such as the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC), the US Embassy in Vietnam, VCCI, Vietnam Trade Office abroad, Embassies, and Trade Offices of other countries in Vietnam, to organize networking events between businesses of the two countries by various forms for mutual understanding and sharing visions, initiatives, and solutions, agreeing on opportunities for cooperation and trade promotion, actively developing business in the context of a volatile market due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The document of the 13rd  Party Congress has determined that in the new developmental period of Vietnam, diplomacy, in which economic diplomacy is the focus, is one of the most important tasks of the diplomatic service of Vietnam. Enhancing understanding of needs and interests for each other, dealing with the consequences of the past and remaining problems, and increasing trust between the people of the two countries will be the basis for the development of bilateral relations, meeting the interests and aspirations of the people of Vietnam and the United States, contributing to consolidating peace, stability, and development in the region and the world.

Nguyen Hai Giang
Editor-in-chief of Vietnam - USA magazine