The official visit to New Zealand by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc from March 11 to 14 will create a driving force for the enhancement of the countries’ comprehensive partnership and the expansion of cooperation areas in the future, Ambassador Nguyen Viet Dung has said.
The Vietnamese ambassador to New Zealand made the remark in an interview with Vietnam News Agency on the threshold of the trip.
Ambassador Dung said the visit is made amid the developing cooperation and friendship between Vietnam and New Zealand. It is meant to affirm Vietnam’s consistent foreign policy of independence, autonomy, and multilateralisation and diversification of foreign relations, including those with New Zealand.
The visit will also be an occasion for the two sides to strengthen political trust and create a solid foundation to intensify bilateral cooperation under the orientations set up in the Vietnam-New Zealand Action Plan for 2017-2020, signed in November last year when New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern attended the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in Vietnam.
He noted since the two countries established their diplomatic relationship in 1975 and the comprehensive partnership in 2009, bilateral ties have been increasingly reinforced as seen through regular mutual visits and meetings at high levels and cooperation between their ministries, sectors and localities.
Economic and trade connections have posted great strides, the diplomat said, adding that during the trip, the two sides will hold a business forum in Auckland city, and the event is expected to attract a number of big enterprises from the countries.
Vietnam is currently the 16th biggest trade partner of New Zealand. Bilateral trade has grown by 15-20 percent over the last five years. According to the Statistics New Zealand, trade between the countries in 2017 surged by nearly 30 percent from the previous year to surpass 1.6 billion NZD (1.2 billion USD), including 753 million NZD of Vietnam’s exports.
With this trade growth trend and the two economies’ ability to support each other, the targeted trade in goods and services of 2.5 billion NZD (1.7 billion USD) in 2020 is completely achievable, he said.
At present, the countries are members the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, which took effect in January 2010, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) that was signed in Chile on March 8. Vietnam and New Zealand, along with nine other ASEAN member nations and five partner countries of ASEAN, are also taking part in the negotiation on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Ambassador Dung noted education is a highlight of bilateral relations. More than 2,200 Vietnamese students are studying in New Zealand. During the visit, the two PMs are set to witness the signing of some educational cooperation documents such as a strategic cooperation plan for 2018-2020 and some agreements between universities, with the aim of increasing the number of Vietnamese students in New Zealand by 30 percent by 2020.
Agriculture is also an important contributor to trade and investment ties. Vietnam and New Zealand have traded a number of agricultural products. New Zealand has also assisted Vietnam to develop value chains in agricultural production and build the capacity of small- and medium-sized enterprises.
The ambassador said there remains much room for the two countries to boost aviation and tourism links. Vietnamese tourists to New Zealand have risen by 32 percent while the number of New Zealand visitors to the Southeast Asian nation has soared by 41 percent thanks to Air New Zealand’s opening of seasonal direct flights from Auckland to Ho Chi Minh City in 2016.
According to the diplomat, it is of utmost importance to effectively implement cooperation in the prioritised fields listed in the Action Plan for 2017-2020. They need to make new breakthroughs and lay new milestones in each field and create favourable conditions for their enterprises to invest and do business in each other’s markets to optimize the advantages brought by free trade agreements.
Vietnam need to make use of those trade deals, step up trade promotion, and set up targets for each group of commodities to help its goods, especially agricultural products, to access New Zealand’s market, he added.
During the interview, Ambassador Dung voiced his belief that the Vietnam-New Zealand relationship, nurtured by generations of the countries’ leaders and people, will reach a new height – strategic partnership – in the near future for the sake of each country’s people and for peace, stability, cooperation, development and prosperity in Asia-Pacific and the world.