11:12 | 30/08/2018 Cooperation
New Zealand Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth, Damien O’Connor, is on a three-day visit to Vietnam that aims to strengthen bilateral relations in several areas, particularly agriculture and trade.
|Minister O’Connor (in the middle) makes a kiwi cheese cake at the Fonterra company’s kitchen in Ho Chi Minh City|
In Ho Chi Minh City, O’Connor met with Vietnamese officials had held talks to further political links.
He also visited Fonterra company, New Zealand’s largest dairy company, which has established a long, successful 31-year presence in Vietnam. Fonterra has 100 local staff and 800 nutrition advisors and sales team members. The company supplies dairy products to more than 20,000 Vietnamese retail outlets. Every day, more than 659,000 glasses of Fonterra milk are consumed across Vietnam.
O’Connor joined “test kitchen” at Fonterra’s office, making a kiwi cheese cake with ingredients from Vietnam and New Zealand, symbolically promoting agricultural products from his country, as also bilateral cooperation in this sector.
In Hanoi, he met with his Vietnamese counterpart. “These meetings will help smoothen New Zealand products’ access to Vietnam, which is a fast growing economy in the Asia-Pacific region with a demand for high quality products,” he said.
New Zealand and Vietnam are mutually committed to reducing barriers to bilateral trade, particularly in agricultural products.
New Zealand’s primary sector’s exports to Viet Nam fetched around US$669 million in 2017, mainly from milk powder, timber tallow and butter.
The year marks the 43rd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and New Zealand. In the last four decades, the relationship has grown in many areas and both countries are on track to upgrade bilateral ties from that of a comprehensive partnership to a strategic one.
Both countries are among each other’s top 20 trading partners, with bilateral trade growing by nearly 260 pct since 2009 when the ASEAN, Australia, and New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) was signed.
New Zealand is also among the most committed official development assistance (ODA) donor countries to Vietnam, and attracts a growing number of overseas Vietnamese students.
Since the establishment of New Zealand’s “Comprehensive Partnership” with Vietnam in 2009, there have been regular political exchanges, greater defence cooperation, strong growth in bilateral trade and expanded education links.
Exports of Vietnamese goods and services to New Zealand grew by 29 percent year-on-year in 2017, while imports of goods and services from New Zealand to Vietnam grew by 46 percent year-on-year in 2017.
After his Vietnam visit, O’Connor will travel to Singapore for several trade meetings, including a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministers Meeting, the ASEAN-Ministerial Consultations (ASEAN, New Zealand and Australia) and the East Asia Summit Economic Ministers’ Meeting.