Elevating Vietnam – New Zealand relations

Update: 09:37 | 21/03/2018
The official visit of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to New Zealand has contributed to the deepening of the Vietnam-New Zealand Comprehensive Partnership, creating momentum to elevate the relationship to a Strategic Partnership in the future.  
TIN LIÊN QUAN
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Deputy Head of Mission at the New Zealand Embassy in Vietnam, Keith Conway, reaffirmed the above statement during an interview with the World and Vietnam Report on the occasion of the Vietnamese Prime Minister’s visit.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has just concluded his official visit to New Zealand, can you share your thoughts on the meaning of this visit?

New Zealand is honoured to receive Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his delegation of 200 Vietnamese leaders and enterprises. This is an opportunity for businesses from both sides to meet and increase mutual understanding. Last November, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Arden attended the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week 2017 in Da Nang. The two countries also regularly exchange high-level delegations.

elevating vietnam new zealand relations
Deputy Head of Mission at the New Zealand Embassy in Vietnam Keith Conway.

This visit by Prime Minister Phuc carries important meaning for both countries, contributing to the strong cooperation in the fields of economics, trade and education. The two sides signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) on supporting bilateral trade cooperation and strengthening educational cooperation.

The official visit of Prime Minister Phuc to New Zealand has contributed to the deepening of the Vietnam-New Zealand Comprehensive Partnership, creating momentum to elevate the relationship to a Strategic Partnership in the future.

How will the CPTPP affect the cooperation between Vietnam and New Zealand?

The signed agreement will create a transparent and consistent trade environment. The two countries’ enterprises will have the opportunity to learn more about each other’s markets, as well as their regulations and common standards. From my point of view, the CPTPP will strongly promote economic cooperation between the two countries once tariff barriers are removed and it will definitely attract more investment.

Recently, the defence cooperation between the two countries has been actively promoted through a number of activities. Could you share more about these collaborative efforts?

During recent years, defence cooperation between the two countries has been strongly promoted, which proves that bilateral relations are deepening and broadening. Last April, the Royal New Zealand Navy visited the city of Da Nang and held exchanges with local people and schools. Naval visits are important in enhancing defence cooperation and we will try to maintain this activity annually.

In 2017, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh led a delegation of Vietnam's Ministry of Defense to visit and attend the Third Vietnam-New Zealand Defence Policy Dialogue. New Zealand Secretary of Defense Helene Quilter also visited Vietnam in July 2017. The two countries signed the New Zealand-Vietnam Three Year Defence Cooperation Action Plan 2018-2021 and many other cooperative activities will continue to be deployed.

New Zealand is willing to share with Vietnam its experience in joining the United Nations peacekeeping operations, continuing to enhance English language education and promoting specialised training for Vietnamese military personnel within the framework of the Peacekeeping Operations Training and Cooperation Implementing Arrangement.

In your opinion, which sectors should the two countries focus on in order to achieve the target of 1.7 billion USD trade turnover by 2020?

The economy was the most prominent field of cooperation between the two countries when trade turnover reached 1.24 billion USD in 2017, up 32% compared to 2016 and triple compared to 2009. New Zealand is the 31st largest trading partner of Vietnam and Vietnam is our 17th largest trading partner. Vietnam is currently ranked 19th in New Zealand’s export market.

elevating vietnam new zealand relations
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (R) receives Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his spouse.

In terms of investment, New Zealand has 28 on-going projects in Vietnam with total registered capital of 101.94 million USD, ranking 41st out of 120 countries and territories investing in Vietnam. Vietnam has six joint venture projects in New Zealand with total registered capital of 25.62 million USD, focusing on areas such as manufacturing and processing; hotels, food and beverage; agroforestry and fisheries.

New Zealand is one of the largest exporters of dairy products in the world, and is famous for its clean agricultural products, fruit, tourism and education. From Vietnam, products such as footwear, textiles and electronics have been quite popular in New Zealand’s market and are also known in many other countries.

Agriculture is the strength of New Zealand and we are willing to share experience and support Vietnam to develop clean agriculture, improve productivity and value of the products. New Zealand is also implementing many projects supporting agriculture in Vietnam. For example, the Premium Fruit Variety Project is aiming to develop 20 new dragon fruit varieties while training Vietnamese farmers to yield higher productivity, and to share post-harvest techniques so that Vietnamese dragon fruit can soon reach the international market.

Furthermore, governments of the two countries are facilitating bilateral trade by reducing taxes, promoting Vietnamese agricultural products in New Zealand as well as New Zealand products in Vietnam. New Zealand is expected to end the import risk assessment for many Vietnamese agricultural and fisheries products such as rambutan, longan, star apple and pomelo by 2021.

In addition to the strong developments in economic and trade cooperation, I would like to emphasise that New Zealand will always support Vietnam in economic integration, especially at regional and international forums such as ASEAN and APEC.

Both Vietnam and New Zealand are promoting trade liberalisation and economic integration and both countries are active members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The official signing of CPTPP last week was a great success for regional trade cooperation. Vietnam and New Zealand will benefit significantly from this agreement.

Besides Australia, New Zealand is also a popular destination for many Vietnamese students. In the future, how does the New Zealand government plan to attract more international students, including Vietnamese students?

Educational cooperation is also a bright spot in bilateral cooperation. During his visit to New Zealand, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern witnessed the signing of three important documents, including a strategic cooperation plan between Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training and New Zealand’s educational agency on Education and Training for 2018-2020. The two countries also set an ambitious goal of a 30% increase in the number of Vietnamese students coming to New Zealand by 2020.

In order to achieve this goal, we will continue to promote affiliate programmes with Vietnamese universities and student exchange programmes between the two countries.

Compared to other countries, New Zealand has advantages in quality of life and education at a reasonable price. Many New Zealand universities are in the top 3% of the world's best universities. In addition, New Zealand offers attractive scholarship programmes for undergraduate and postgraduate students in fields such as public policy, agriculture and tourism.

Recently, the New Zealand Embassy in Vietnam successfully hosted a Facebook live stream session with the Ambassador on scholarship programmes, which attracted more than 22,000 views. This shows that the Government of New Zealand wants to attract more Vietnamese students and Vietnamese students are also very interested in New Zealand’s education sector.

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(TGVN)