In March, following a few years of improving ties, the Israeli president Reuven Rivlin made an official visit to Vietnam. Alvite Ningthoujam writes:
Israel’s Vietnam policy resembles the overtures it made during the 1950s and early 1960s toward the sub-Saharan countries, with which it shared technical expertise in agriculture and healthcare. . . . A similar [approach] is now being followed with Vietnam. Israeli-Vietnamese relations are expanding in the fields of agriculture, commerce, science, and technology, and—most importantly—in the defense sphere.
Israel and Vietnam established diplomatic relations in July 1993, and their economic relationship is relatively healthy. Bilateral trade volume touched $1.3 billion last year, and the countries aspire to take it to an annual $2 billion. . . . Israel and Vietnam are [also] engaged in joint ventures in the production of weapons systems suitable to the needs of the Vietnamese armed forces. Israel’s entry into this defense market is timely, as Hanoi is undergoing modernization programs for all three military services. . . . These steps have likely been taken by the Vietnamese government in response to the Chinese military build-up in the South China Sea. . . .
[During his visit], Rivlin pushed not only for the existing cooperation to continue but also for Vietnam’s political support, especially in multilateral forums like the UN. If good relations are to last, this element—in addition to economic and military cooperation—will be very necessary.