18:09 | 24/08/2015 Cooperation
(VEN) - In a talk with Vietnam Economic News’ Nguyen Huong, new Hungarian Ambassador to Vietnam Ory Casaba said Hungary considered Vietnam as an important strategic partner in the Southeast Asian region.
What are your views on ties between Vietnam and Hungary since the two countries established diplomatic relations 65 years ago?
Despite global, regional and national changes, the traditional friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and Hungary has been strengthened and developed constantly in a wide range of fields including politics, diplomacy, economics, trade, investment, education and training, science and technology, and many other areas. In the last three years, the two countries have exchanged 30 visits at different levels. Hungary considers Vietnam as one of its leading strategic partners in Southeast Asia. The decision to open the Hungarian Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City is clear testimony of this. The Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly will come to Vietnam this autumn to inaugurate the Consulate General.
Vietnam is a dynamic nation with impressive economic growth in the recent period. However, trade between Vietnam and Hungary doesn’t match the relationship between the two countries. Last year, bilateral trade reached US$175 million, including US$55 million worth of Vietnamese exports to Hungary and US$120 million worth of Hungarian exports to Vietnam. Potential Vietnamese exports to Hungary include rice and coffee. I hope in the time to come Hungary can import rice and coffee directly from Vietnam.
Does Hungary have any specific plans for this year to boost bilateral cooperation?
In the time to come, we will concentrate on accelerating some major projects in Vietnam. The Hungarian government has approved an official development assistance (ODA) loan for Vietnam to build an oncology hospital in the city of Can Tho. An ODA loan for another project is ready to look at treatment of surface water on the Red River. Hungary also wants to fund a nationwide residential management project and other projects related to cancer prevention and management of cancer patients in Vietnam.
The 500-bed oncology hospital in Can Tho is expected to cost 60 million euro. Through this project, we not only want to build a hospital for Vietnamese citizens to get their diseases treated domestically instead of going to Singapore or Thailand, but we will also build the hospital as a place where patients can be provided with post-treatment care and where cancer doctors, physicians and nurses can be provided with training.
The treatment of surface water in the Red River is expected to cost about US$300 million, with about US$60 million coming from the Hungarian budget and the remainder from Hungarian credit-linked loans for Vietnam. This water treatment project is expected to have total capacity of 450,000cu.m per day and its construction will finish by 2030. So far, procedures related to the project have been basically completed.
What do you think the two countries should do to increase cooperation? What is the focus of your attention during your ambassadorial tenure in Vietnam?
As you know, bilateral trade between Vietnam and Hungary has grown on a yearly basis but remains low compared with the potential of cooperation between the two countries. Therefore, in the time to come, Hungary will intensify trade promotion activities and seek cooperation and technology transfer opportunities with Vietnamese businesses, while at the same time boosting investment in Vietnam in the fields of information technology, medical equipment, food, beverage, environment, and water treatment.
We also want to increase cooperation with Vietnam in the fields of culture, education, and tourism in order to promote people-to-people exchanges. The Hungarian government currently provides 50 full scholarships for Vietnamese students to study in Hungary each year, but in the near future, this will increase to 100 scholarships each year.
The number of Hungarian tourists to Vietnam remains limited because Hungary still has to cope with economic difficulties. Hungary has faced a crisis similar to Greece but we have seen optimistic signs for development through unemployment rate reduction. We hope that in the time to come, the number of Hungarian tourists to Vietnam will grow. We intend to organize some cultural programs, exhibitions, music performances, and book week events in Vietnam; assist the translation of contemporary literature works of the two countries into Vietnamese and Hungarian languages; and create cooperation and exchange opportunities for televisions and writers of the two countries.