Vietnam-New Zealand ties to be fortified following TPP

10:13 | 20/03/2015 Cooperation

(VEN) - New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam Haike Manning spoke with Vietnam Economic News’ reporters Thanh Tung and Thu Hang about investment and trade prospects after Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung visited New Zealand from March 19-20.

Vietnam-New Zealand ties to be fortified following TPP

What are your comments on Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s recent visit to New Zealand? What opportunities did the visit provide in terms of cooperation between the two countries?

The visit to New Zealand by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has achieved good results at the right time when the two countries have been celebrating 40 years of the diplomatic relations from 1975-2015. The two parties agreed to upgrade the strategic partnership in the near future and draw-up specific plans to promote cooperation in many areas.

Accordingly, the two parties proposed a new cooperation model to strengthen economic ties and create conditions favorable for businesses to expand their investment in major areas in Vietnam such as agriculture, education and training, and tourism.

The two parties set a goal to increase bilateral trade revenue by two-fold to US$1.7 billion by 2020, while trying to launch non-stop flights between the two countries by 2017.

What prospects in trade could you see between the two countries?

If you look at the last five years, trade has more than doubled between the two countries to almost US$1 billion, up 120 percent a year. Although compared to other trade partners, this isn’t massive, the growth trend is very positive and we expect that we should aim for near-doubling of the two-way trade between the two countries over the next five years, with an expected figure of about US$1.7 billion.

New Zealand and Vietnam also aim to achieve US$1 billion in two-way trade by 2015.

There are visible signs of this growth in the trade relationship. You can now see more New Zealand dairy products, apples, kiwifruit and wine in Vietnam. In the other direction, New Zealanders are getting an increasing taste for Vietnamese products, including coffee, pepper, cashew nuts, clothing, mobile phones and tropical fruits. 

Vietnam is now New Zealand’s 20th largest trading partner, with potential for further significant expansion.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is currently under negotiation and is expected to be signed at some point. How will the TPP affect trade and investment prospects between the two countries?

The TPP is really a very important agreement for both countries to boost mutual trade and investment flows. It is expected that the TPP will be concluded in the coming months. We are going to see a great alignment between the New Zealand and Vietnamese supply chain. We’re also going to see increased co-operation in working together in interested markets.

For example, it would be possible to apply New Zealand designs which would be assembled and manufactured as garments here in Vietnam and then exported to third markets.

So when we think about the impact of the TPP, in terms of the relationship between New Zealand and Vietnam, it’s not just about New Zealand sending more things to Vietnam and Vietnam sending more things to New Zealand. It must be about how we work together to really conquer international markets.

I see our comprehensive partnership strengthening and maturing in the coming years, built on a foundation of trust, mutual respect and relationships between our leaders. I see our trade relationship increasing significantly –  and the potential for Vietnam and New Zealand to partner together to develop, produce, and market products for third markets by taking advantage of new trade agreements such as the TPP.

Will there be any change in New Zealand’s official development assistance (ODA) to Vietnam in the near future?

New Zealand has also been a proud and effective contributor of ODA to Vietnam for more than 40 years. We have a range of interesting projects focused on the areas of agriculture, disaster risk management, education and human resources development, with more than US$30 million invested over the last three years. We will focus on supporting Vietnam in these areas because they would need more development.

New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam Haike Manning visits a New Zealand-funded dragon fruit farming project

For example, in the education sector, our assistance includes our high-profile English language training for officials and 150 full post-graduate scholarships over the 2011-2016 period.

I see huge opportunity for the education relationship – we want to see a significant increase in the number of Vietnamese students studying in New Zealand, up from the current 2,000, and an increase in engagement between our tertiary institutions to offer education services here in Vietnam. I see a strengthening of our defense and security relationship, based on increased exchange and engagement between our militaries.

Most of all, I want to see growing connections between our peoples – where we have increasing numbers of young New Zealanders with knowledge and connections to Vietnam, and young Vietnamese with knowledge and connections to New Zealand.