Vietnam, UK enhance bilateral trade ties

09:00 | 02/10/2020 Cooperation

(VEN) - Leaders of Vietnam and the UK discussed ways to bolster bilateral relations during a two-day (Sept 29-30) visit to Vietnam by UK First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Dominic Raab.

Raab met with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Deputy Prime Minister & Foreign Affairs Minister Pham Binh Minh. Both sides discussed progress made towards finalising the UK – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (FTA). They said this would ensure continuity for businesses at end of the UK’s transition period with the European Union (EU). They also discussed the UK-Vietnam Strategic Partnership Agreement, which sets the framework for political and economic relationships between the two countries to grow over the next decade.

The Foreign Secretary highlighted that the UK would like to see another shift in gear in the UK-Vietnam relations over the next decade as Vietnam and its people continue to look to play a greater global role. The UK Foreign Secretary also welcomed Vietnam’s public support for the UK’s ambition to accede to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The UK Foreign Secretary raised the international climate conference COP26, which the UK is jointly hosting next year. The world’s biggest emitters and the most vulnerable countries are situated in the Asia-Pacific region and a shift to cleaner energy makes economic as well as climate sense. The Foreign Secretary commented that Vietnam has the biggest potential for offshore wind in the region, and offered to share UK expertise.

While the UK Foreign Secretary was in Vietnam, he also met ASEAN foreign ministers virtually to discuss how the UK aspired to deepen its partnership with ASEAN by becoming a Dialogue Partner with this important political and economic group.

During the visit in Vietnam, UK Foreign Secretary Raab announced the UK will provide £6.3 million new funding to tackle the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 and to support the recovery from the pandemic across South East Asia. The funding is for a mixture of programmes with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and ASEAN bodies, to support health systems prevent, detect and control the threat of COVID-19.

Speaking from Vietnam, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The UK is playing a leading role in the global COVID-19 response. The UK package of support announced today will help stop the spread of the virus.

“Cooperation between UK and Vietnamese scientists will protect the British and Vietnamese people and help prevent a global second wave that threatens us all.

“Today’s new funding takes the total coronavirus support to the region to over £50 million, including existing programmes which have been adapted to meet the needs of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

As part of the visit, the UK Foreign Secretary also opened a UK-Vietnam Health Conference with the Vietnamese Ministry of Health and leading sector experts from development and research organisations. The conference discussed vaccine development and immunization and ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. UK organisations including Oxford University Clinical Research Unit and AstraZeneca are both actively engaged with the Vietnamese Governmental agencies on COVID-19 research, innovative medicines and therapeutics, and vaccine procurement and distribution.

Also, during this visit, the UK Foreign Secretary witnessed AstraZeneca’s handover of their letter of intent on contract manufacturing and technology transfer to Vietnam’s Acting Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long.

The UK and Vietnam agreed a joint refreshed strategic partnership agreement on 30 September 2020, during the UK Foreign Secretary’s visit to Hanoi.

My Phung