Vietnam, Netherlands promote trade, investment cooperation

08:53 | 05/12/2016 MUTRAP Corner

(VEN) - Vice Minister for Foreign Trade of the Netherlands Marten van den Berg led a delegation of 34 Dutch companies and knowledge institutions to visit Vietnam from October 24-25. These companies operate in a wide range of sectors such as aviation, agri-food, renewable energy, and maritime infrastructure. Vietnam Economic News’ My Phung talked with Vice Minister Marten van den Berg about the progress of development cooperation between the two countries.  

vietnam netherlands promote trade investment cooperation
Deputy General Manager of Huong Nghiep A Au, Nguyen Thi Quynh Anh, and CEO of NovoLanguage, Martijn Enter, sign a contract marking the beginning of their cooperation

How would the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement help to promote trade and investment between the Netherlands and Vietnam?

The FTA will provide new opportunities for companies on both sides, by increasing market access for goods, services and investment. We hope to strengthen the cooperation between our two countries in for example the agricultural and water (management) sectors, but also in the financial and transport sectors. It will also encourage sustainable development with the inclusion of a robust and comprehensive chapter on trade and sustainable development in the FTA.

What is your priority on this visit? Could you share your experiences after two days visiting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City?

The Dutch delegation coming to Vietnam this time represents 34 companies and knowledge institutions from a wide range of sectors, including aviation, agri-food, renewable energy, and maritime infrastructure. Among them are not just renowned and internationally established companies such as Damen Shipyards, Royal Boskalis and Royal HaskoningDHV, but also many mid-sized companies that start eying Vietnam as a potential market and investment destination. In the two-day visit, we witnessed: - The Dutch and Vietnamese aviation sectors signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU). A cluster of 10 Dutch aviation and airport companies will support the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam and the Vietnamese airlines, airports and service providers. It aims to develop a roadmap to make Vietnam a regional hub for both passenger and cargo services. - Dutch company Novolanguage and the Duy Tan University signed a Letter of Intent on the provision of an eLearning platform for English education. This eLearning platform is based on years of research of speech technology for language learning. - Dutch company Virtuvax and Fabiotech signed an MoU on carrying out a feasibility study on a production facility for vaccines. - In the field of agricultural innovation, an MoU was signed between the Dutch development organization ICCO Cooperation and Vietnam’s ERIPT (Economic Research Institute of Posts and Telecommunications) on applying geo-data/satellite data in coffee production in Vietnam. - Becamex decided to cooperate with Philips Lighting to provide energy-efficient LED lights for Binh Duong new city, and smart lighting systems for its administrative building and other public areas such as parks and bridges.

Which sectors, from your point of view, will attract Dutch investors to Vietnam in the years to come? What do Dutch companies expect from this visit?

The Netherlands possesses experience, expertise and technology that would help a middle-income country like Vietnam to catalyze this sustainable and inclusive development. We offer finance, expertise and transfer of skills to help Vietnamese businesses and to further develop the business climate. This approach is based on mutual benefits, as it allows both our nations to trade on a higher level.

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement is in the process of ratification, and when implemented it will provide trade and investments opportunities between Vietnam and EU member states. With this visit, we ensure our Dutch businesses and their Vietnamese partners are aware of the agreement’s contents, and are ready to benefit from its provisions.

Within the framework of the strategic partnership in sustainable agriculture and food security between the Netherlands and Vietnam, agriculture and food-related companies see many opportunities to bring Vietnamese agriculture to a next level. Despite its small size, the Netherlands is the world’s second largest agricultural exporter. How did we do it? With innovation and technology. This makes Dutch businesses well-placed to work with Vietnam on adding value to its agricultural export products, and they stand ready to support.

Dutch expertise and experience in clean and sustainable technologies and innovations ensure that economic growth goes hand in hand with a sustainable environmental footprint. The increasing attention to climate change, environmental disasters and pollution from the Vietnamese population provides new opportunities.

We see potential for Dutch and Vietnamese companies, governments and academics to partner up to become sustainable, and to keep this planet in good shape for ourselves and for future generations.

In 2010, the Netherlands and Vietnam established a strategic partnership in water management and climate change adaptation. Could you share the progress of this partnership over the past six years?

Under the strategic partnership agreement (SPA) we developed many activities. Here I want to name the largest of our cooperative efforts.

The first is the Climate Adaptation Strategy for Ho Chi Minh City, finalized in 2013 and is now used by the Metropole to help shape a more sustainable and climate adaptive city planning. For us it provides guiding principles for future cooperation. But probably better known is the second example, the Mekong Delta Plan. This plan is a set of recommendations for the sustainable development of the Vietnamese Mekong Delta. It was written in close cooperation between the Vietnamese and Dutch governments and also finalized in December 2013. It was very well received by the governments, provinces and international partners and has shaped investment in the delta since.

The most tangible is the World Bank loan for the Integrated Climate Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods Project of approximately 350 million euros. But this plan has also stimulated progress relating to land-use change, governance, inter-provincial cooperation and so on.

I think we can be proud of what we have achieved together.

Trade between Vietnam and the Netherlands is growing steadily. Last year, Vietnamese exports to the Netherlands increased by 42 percent, and imports from this market grew 37 percent compared with 2014. The Netherlands is Vietnam’s second largest trading partner in the European Union (EU), and cumulatively the largest EU investor in Vietnam (2015).

My Phung