Vietnam continues to be a priority in Danish foreign policy

08:54 | 26/02/2019 MUTRAP Corner

(VEN) - Vietnam Economic News’ Nguyen Huong talked with Danish Ambassador to Vietnam Kim Hojlund Christensen. 

vietnam continues to be a priority in danish foreign policy
Danish Ambassador to Vietnam Kim Hojlund Christensen

You took up the position of Danish Ambassador to Vietnam not too long ago. Could you share with us your first impressions of Vietnam? What are the priorities during your term of office in Vietnam?

I first visited Vietnam in 2004 and was immediately impressed by your beautiful country and your generous and warm people. Then I came back on a short visit in 2012 and now I am here to work. The country’s rapid development and fast growth into a middle-income country are reflected in the increasing number of cars and motorcycles. This is a great time for me to be in Vietnam. I am very honored to be the Ambassador of Denmark to Vietnam where a true and long-term friendship and cooperation has developed.

The Danish-Vietnamese development cooperation is often in Denmark referred to as one of the most successful Danish development partnerships ever. I believe it has helped pave the way for Vietnam’s development success - but also for the expansion of our bilateral economic relations. Our two countries share a wide range of interests, including in strengthening our economic and trade ties, especially within green growth, food and agriculture, health and education.

In my capacity as Ambassador of Denmark to Vietnam, I will do my utmost to contribute to the strengthening of our friendship and comprehensive partnership. We will review results of the first five years of Comprehensive Partnership Agreement (CPA) implementation, and based on that develop new action plans which reflect the dynamics of the two countries’ recent developments. We will also work with Vietnamese agencies to identify and deliver focused and refocused priority areas of cooperation. And we will sustain the frequent exchange of high-level visits, which are highly valued by the Royal Danish Court, the Danish Government and the Danish Parliament. Exchanging knowledge and experience through partnership seminars, internships, study visits and research cooperation is another priority for me.

What do you think of bilateral economic relations between Vietnam and Denmark during the past years?

By signing the CPA in 2013, Denmark and Vietnam successfully laid out a formal framework for strengthening the bilateral relations between us in the post-Development Aid era. The focus in our relationship has now been moved from aid to trade. The bilateral economic relations between our two countries have expanded substantially during the past five years under the CPA. From 2013 to 2017, total value of our bilateral trade in goods more than doubled. Denmark has been able to establish itself as the largest EU exporter of goods to Vietnam per capita.

More than 135 Danish companies have a legal setup in Vietnam. The volume of Vietnamese exports to Denmark has also increased significantly during the past five years, reaching DKK2.8 billion in 2017 (approx. US$440 million). This is an increase of 73 percent since 2013. Due to their strong competencies, many Danish companies are in a good position to meet Vietnam’s high demand in such sectors as agriculture, food safety, water, clean energy, waste management, maritime transport and logistics.

Denmark has provided Vietnam with tremendous support within the energy sector. Could you highlight some cooperation projects between the two countries in this sector? Will it receive further support from Denmark in the future?

In the CPA, the area of energy remains a particularly important subject. This means the Danish-Vietnamese cooperation in the energy sector has been - and still is - very strong. In 2017, Vietnam and Denmark agreed on a new Danish Energy Partnership Program 2017-2020 (DEPP) starting a new phase of energy cooperation with a total budget of DKK21.6 million (approx. US$3.3 million). The Danish Embassy in Hanoi also supported Vietnam Renewable Energy Week 2018.

Apart form that, P4G - Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 - is another successful area of cooperation between our two countries. The government of Denmark provides US$37 million in initial funding for P4G from 2018-2022. Vietnam has been a P4G partner country from the very beginning in 2017 and has actively engaged in P4G’s activities.

Denmark will continue supporting Vietnam’s endeavors to improve energy efficiency as the country faces serious future challenges in meeting the energy demand for households and industrial production. With a focus on responsibility, reliability, efficiency, advanced technologies and environment, Denmark and Danish companies excel in this sector, particularly in renewable energy production and energy efficiency. We are interested in sharing this knowledge and technologies with Vietnam. Our cooperation in the energy sector has evolved into a long-term partnership with the aim of further supporting Vietnam to attain green and sustainable energy production.

How about the trade and investment relations between Vietnam and Denmark in future?

Our donor-based relationship has now matured into a full-fledged partnership with a very strong focus on trade and investment. Denmark is currently one of Vietnam’s top trade partners per capita within the EU. Over the years, our trade relations have accelerated at an impressive level. Therefore, there is a bright future ahead for our trade and investment relations.

High on the list is the Vietnamese market for food processing machinery and equipment, particularly within grain handling and feed mill plants, which has attracted considerable attention among Danish companies. Businesses within the creative industries from Denmark are also seeking to increase their presence in Vietnam. A number of photo-editing and graphic design companies are already active in Vietnam like Pixelz, Esoftflow or Eyecadcher Media. Another important area of investment interest would be anything related to energy efficiency and water management, including wastewater treatment and prevention of water-loss in the distribution network.

There are a number of Danish investors looking into the solar energy business opportunities in Vietnam as well. Waste-handling, both solid waste and household waste, can be added as a new item on the list. However, as waste-handling in Vietnam is still a challenging issue, the market is not quite there yet for Danish companies. When the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and the EU enters into force, it will facilitate the flow of trade between Denmark and Vietnam on both sides. On top of this, the FTA will also be beneficial for Danish companies outsourcing their production to Vietnam while selling the products in the EU.

Do you have any messages to the business communities of Denmark and Vietnam on the occasion of the Lunar New Year 2019?

As we welcome 2019, I would like to take this opportunity to assert that the Danish Embassy will continue being instrumental in bridging Danish businesses together with Vietnamese partners. Therefore, we remain confident that we will be assured of the continued support of the Danish business community while pursuing stronger cooperation with Vietnam. We also strongly believe that the long-established partnership between our two countries will offer the Vietnamese companies the best chances of success in the Danish market.

Nguyen Huong