New UK envoy pledges to boost investment, trade

08:42 | 04/09/2018 Cooperation

(VEN) - President Tran Dai Quang hosted the new UK Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward at a reception earlier this month in Hanoi, urging him to encourage British firms to boost investment and business in Vietnam. 

new uk envoy pledges to boost investment trade
The new UK Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward

He also called on the UK to help Vietnam access capital sources from the UK’s wealth fund, especially in Vietnam’s priority fields such as business environment improvement, climate change adaptation and infrastructure development. Vietnam hopes to bolster cooperation with the UK in education and training, he said, asking for support in training in law, finance-banking, insurance, hi-technology.

At a meeting with the media, the new UK envoy said he was impressed by positive changes Vietnam has undergone over the past two decades. He indicated three major priorities for his tenure: promoting cooperation in trade liberalization, abiding by international law and boosting people-to-people exchanges.

Ambassador Ward came to Vietnam for the first time 20 years ago as a tourist, visiting Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City. He remembers Vietnam was poor at that time whereas now it has turned into a success story. Ward said he was witnessing major changes, with historic sites and landscapes preserved, but infrastructure and life greatly improved.

The ambassador believes there are great opportunities for the two countries to increase cooperation, especially in trade and investment, because Vietnam has reached a higher development level and integrated more deeply into the global economy.

The UK is the second largest European investor in Vietnam, after the Netherlands, with 267 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects with total registered capital of US$3.75 billion. The UK is also Vietnam’s third largest European trading partner, after Germany and the Netherlands. Ward said he believes Vietnam has advantages to attract British investment, although the country still needs improvements in certain aspects. From his viewpoint, the Vietnamese population is young, eager to learn and highly adaptable; the macroeconomic situation in Vietnam is stable; and Vietnam offers a gateway to the ASEAN market.

Bilateral trade between Vietnam and the UK has grown rapidly in recent years and reached US$5.7 billion in 2017. General Department of Vietnam Customs data show that Vietnam exported US$1.31 billion worth of goods to the UK in the first quarter of 2018, 30.6 percent more than in the same period last year. Meanwhile, the UK exported US$185 million worth of goods to Vietnam, a rise of 17.6 percent compared with the first quarter of 2017. These results maintain Vietnam’s surplus in trade with the UK.

Ambassador Ward thinks the Vietnamese middle class will grow, generating higher demand for quality products. This promises increased presence of UK goods in the Vietnamese market, which will help balance bilateral trade. The Vietnam-UK Joint Economic and Trade Committee recently convened in Manchester for its 10th meeting, focusing discussions on measures to remove trade barriers between the two sides.

Ambassador Ward said the UK wants to join Vietnam’s efforts to strengthen adherence to international rules and contribute to global security. He wishes to boost people-to-people exchanges by increasing the number of UK tourists to Vietnam and vice versa.

Nguyen Huong