To enhance comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and New Zealand

14:50 | 05/06/2015 Cooperation

(VEN) - Vietnam and New Zealand (NZ) established diplomatic relations on June 19, 1975. Since then, the cooperation and contact between the two countries has flourished, particularly in recent years.

To enhance comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and New Zealand

In September 2009, both countries issued a Joint Statement establishing a bilateral Comprehensive Partnership. Under the Comprehensive Partnership, both countries commit to taking the bilateral relationship to a new level in a range of different sectors including trade and business, science and technology, agriculture, education, defence, policing, development assistance and customs cooperation. An Action Plan for 2013-2016 (the second such Action Plan) containing specific initiatives to help implement the Partnership was signed in August 2013.

To learn more about the growing relationship of the two countries after four decades, Vietnam Economic News’s My Phung talked to New Zealand Ambassador to Viet Nam, Haike Manning, about the enhancement of comprehensive cooperation between NZ and Vietnam.

How do you think about the achievement of cooperation relations between NZ and Vietnam after 40 years establishing diplomatic relationships, especially after the Vietnamese Prime Minister’s recent visit to NZ?           

Our relationship has been growing strongly in recent years – New Zealand very much values the relationship we enjoy with Viet Nam.  Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung recently paid a high successful visit to New Zealand in March, accompanied by the largest and most senior Vietnamese delegation ever to visit New Zealand.  This was particularly important in the context of the celebration of 40 years of friendship between New Zealand and Viet Nam in 2015.  During that visit we discussed how to further enhance our Comprehensive Partnership, with a view to upgrading the relationship to a Strategic level in the coming time.

There are lots of bright spots in the relationship; our two-trade has grown strongly in recent years, over 120% since 2009, and importantly there is good balance in the levels of trade in either direction.   We are looking to double trade again in the next 5 years, to US$1.7 billion.  Our education links are strong with huge potential for attract more Vietnamese students into NZ’s world class education system.   We are working together on defence and security issues; another key area of partnership is in the critical area of food safety, where we want to match New Zealand’s strengths in food safety systems with the significant demand for improved food safety in Viet Nam.

Can you brief New Zealand's ODA projects for Vietnam?

New Zealand has been a long term development partner for Viet Nam. Since the 1960s we have been providing scholarships for talented Vietnamese students to receive an international education in New Zealand; Today, in 2015, we continue to provide scholarships – 150 full post graduate scholarships during the period 2011-2015.   In addition to education/human resource development we are also focused on agriculture and disaster risk management.  In recent years our approach has shifted, towards funding strategic partnerships between Vietnamese and New Zealand organizations focused on transferring New Zealand knowledge and technology to address critical development issues.  Many of these strategic partnerships offer opportunities for commercial relationships to develop in the future.

What issues are the key to promote the trade relations between the two countries?

One of the key things necessary to further strengthen our trading relationship is building greater interest and awareness of the opportunities in each others’ markets.  This doesn’t necessarily mean traditional trade missions – in fact I favour more targeted sectorial approaches, where there is a clear match between New Zealand supply, and Vietnamese demand.   Examples of this would include agriculture and agribusiness, food, education and tourism services, aviation.  It is really important that sustainable and trusted relationships are built between our businesses and our business people.

The second thing I think is really important is the general business environment.  Viet Nam has made real progress in improving the business environment in recent years, but further enhancements in terms of quicker decision making, less regulation and greater transparency would help to make Viet Nam even more attractive as a place to do business for New Zealand business people and investors.

What are your advices for businesses of two countries to do business successfully in each other country?

Do your homework – really take the time to understand the opportunities and challenges of the other market, as well as the strengths and limitations of your business plan – and work with good, trusted, local partners. For government of New Zealand, we have the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise office in HCMC to help New Zealand businesses to pursue opportunities and to find partners.

Education is one of the key sectors of cooperation of the two countries. From your point of views, how to further promote this cooperation in the years to come?

Education links are a key feature of New Zealand’s relationship with Viet Nam.  Viet Nam is now the eleventh largest source of international students studying in New Zealand, averaging 2000 students per year in recent years.   I think this figure will continue to grow strongly in the years to come, as New Zealand is an attractive destination for Vietnamese students seeking a world-class education in cosmopolitan, beautiful and safe surroundings.

Tertiary education linkages between our institutions are also strong, with a number of New Zealand institutions, including Victoria University and Auckland University of Technology, operating joint programmes in Viet Nam.  Victoria University also has a campus at the National Economics University in Ho Chi Minh City.  I would love to see many more Vietnamese students studying in New Zealand and more education linkages between education providers, as education builds bridges of understanding between our two countries.

Could you reveal some events will be held during this year in Vietnam in general and in HCMC in particular to celebrate the 40 anniversary of diplomatic relations of the two countries?

This year is very important year for both countries. To celebrate the 40 anniversary, we will have many events that focus on education and cultural exchanges. For example, we are organizing a significant fashion collaboration between Vietnamese and NZ fashion students, ending with a high end fashion show in HCMC in early August. This show will showcase the creation and design between the students of the two countries as well as creating lasting connections between the students.  

We are also bringing a Maori performance group to Viet Nam in September, which will be the centerpiece of a 10 day education and culture roadshow we will run in Ha Noi, Da Nang and HCMC.   So there are lots of exciting things happening this year, with plenty of opportunities for the Vietnamese public to engage with us, especially through our facebook page!