German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier touched down in Vietnam on Tuesday as Germany looks to push its China de-risking strategy.
He was joined in the capital, Hanoi, by Labor Minister Hubertus Heil and a delegation of business leaders from top German industrial firms who will join him on a four-day tour of Southeast Asia.
The visit "underlines Germany's interest in looking beyond China and diversifying its economic relations," said Florian Feyerabend, the representative in Vietnam for German think tank, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
What's on the agenda for Steinmeier in Vietnam?
Steinmeier was welcomed with military honors by Vietnam's President Vo Van Tthuong.
He then attended a careers fair at the Goethe-Institut in Hanoi.
After touring the capital, the two leaders will have talks and are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding on facilitating the movement of skilled workers from Vietnam to Germany.
On Wednesday, Steinmeier is due to visit the economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City. He will then spend two days visiting Thailand.
What German companies joined the trade mission?
Among the German companies participating in the business mission is Herrenknecht, which dominates the global tunnel boring machine market and is already selling tools to construct a subway in Ho Chi Minh City.
Other participating firms include building materials giant Knauf and adhesive manufacturer Tesa, both of which already have operations in the Southeast Asian country.
Wind farm developer PNE AG also joined the delegation at a time when Vietnam is looking to expand its offshore wind sector.
The German chamber of commerce in Vietnam said that German companies have invested more than $3 billion (€2.8 billion) into the manufacturing hub, with automotive supplier Bosch being the main investor.
Germany is Vietnam's most important trading partner in the European Union, while Vietnam is one of Germany's most important partners in the group of ASEAN states.
zc/wmr (dpa, Reuters)