Vietnam, New Zealand look forward to building strategic partnership

11:00 | 28/01/2020 Cooperation

(VEN) - 2020 marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and Vietnam. Over the last four decades, the bilateral relationship has grown strongly, especially since the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) with both countries being members entered into force in early 2019. New Zealand Chargé D’affaires to Vietnam Keith Conway talked with Vietnam Economic News’ Nguyen Huong on the results of cooperation between the two countries.

vietnam new zealand look forward to building strategic partnership
New Zealand Chargé D’affaires to Vietnam Keith Conway

Could you share with us the most outstanding results of bilateral diplomatic relations over the last 45 years?

It is hard to choose a single achievement in the bilateral relationship to highlight. 2020 marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and Vietnam, and over the last four decades, the relationship has grown strongly in many areas. Reflecting this deepening friendship we’re on track to progress from a comprehensive partnership to a strategic one.

If I could pick just two areas to focus on they would be trade and people-to-people connections. The trade relationship grew over seven percent last year. Both countries are among the top 20 trading partners for each other, with bilateral trade more than tripling since 2009, when the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement was signed. People to people links are thriving, with increasing tourism in both directions and New Zealand receiving a growing number of Vietnamese students. Vietnamese students are increasingly choosing a New Zealand education as the best option to prepare them for the future of work and a successful career. The number of Vietnamese students in New Zealand grew 30 percent from 2016-18, with 2,772 Vietnamese students studying in New Zealand during 2018.

Tourism is really blossoming in both directions - around 40,000 New Zealanders a year go to Vietnam each year to enjoy the beautiful scenery and wonderful food. But we are also seeing really great growth in the number of Vietnamese tourists coming to explore New Zealand.

What significant changes have the two countries seen in economic relations since the CPTPP was officially ratified? Do you think the two countries have taken full advantage of the agreement?

New Zealand strongly welcomed ratification of the CPTPP this year by Vietnam and other Parties this year as an important step to improve the trading rules between us and contribute to further growth in our business and investment ties. In the context of the current difficult and uncertain global economic environment, it is also important that New Zealand, Vietnam and other countries continue to work together to support the international rules-based trading system through agreements like CPTPP to ensure continued growth and prosperity in our region. Both of our countries are making good progress taking full advantage of the CPTPP, but I think there are always more ways we can raise awareness of CPTPP to New Zealand and Vietnamese businesses so they are well-equipped to exploit market opportunities. New Zealand is also proactively supporting Vietnamese agencies to successfully implement CPTPP, including providing training and advice in areas such as procurement and customs.

Is the New Zealand business community interested in Vietnam after the signing of the CPTPP? Which sectors will be the largest beneficiaries of the agreement, in your opinion?

With CPTPP now in effect in New Zealand and Vietnam, I believe there are significant opportunities to expand trade growth, particularly in high quality food products, wine, agri-tech expertise and equipment, education and tourism. New Zealand already has an excellent reputation in Vietnam for safe, clean and high quality food including dairy and fruit, but I also see a lot of potential in the future for New Zealand to export more technology products and services as Vietnam moves towards Industry 4.0. Technology is now New Zealand’s third largest export sector, growing by 11 percent in the last year to a value of more than NZ$1.1 billion in 2018. New Zealanders have a long tradition of mixing creative innovation with practical solutions and we are already sharing this expertise with Vietnam in areas as diverse as weather-forecasting, animal genetics, and smart city solutions.

What is your assessment on the growth potential of bilateral relations? What should we do to further improve the relationship between the two countries?

The Vietnam-New Zealand relationship is going from strength to strength as we look forward to elevating the partnership in 2020 to new heights. New Zealand sees Vietnam as an important partner in the region and as a dynamic, expanding economy with amazing future potential. This provides lots of opportunities to drive the relationship forward. A key advantage is that both of our economies are very complementary. New Zealand can provide high quality products, skills and know-how to meet the needs of Vietnam’s growing economy - for example, Vietnam has an increasing workforce demanding high skills, and New Zealand has a world-class education system and many high quality training providers. 2020 will also be an important year for both countries with Vietnam chairing ASEAN, the 45th anniversary of our bilateral relations, and the attendance by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the New Zealand-ASEAN Leaders’ Summit in Da Nang. These meetings will be a valuable opportunity for our leaders to discuss ways to open up further cooperation, including in trade.

Nguyen Huong