Vietnam, Norway ink MoU on diplomacy cooperation

Vietnam and Norway will increase exchange of delegations and studies on issues relating to their diplomatic policies, bilateral relations, as well as regional and global issues of mutual concern.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect was signed in the Norwegian capital of Oslo on June 25 by representatives of the Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies (IFPSS) under the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI).

IFPSS director Hoang Anh Tuan said both Vietnamese and Norwegian leaders have shown their high political resolve to further expand the two countries’ relations in the years to come.

The signing of the MoU will support scholars of both sides in putting forward cooperation policies in the region and the world to effectively tap the potential and strength of each country in bilateral ties.

NUPI director Ulf Sverdrup said Norway’s security and prosperity is closely associated with developments in Southeast Asia and East Asia.

The signing of the MoU will help Norwegian scholars and policy-makers to be updated on Vietnam and the region, so as to increase cooperation between Norway and Vietnam and the Southeast Asian region in particular. 

President hails Vietnam-Japan agriculture cooperation

Vietnam and Japan have great potential for strengthening cooperation in applying biological technology in farming and processing of agricultural products, State President Truong Tan Sang has said.

Sang was speaking at a reception in Ho Chi Minh City on June 25 for Japanese Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who is on a visit to Vietnam.

He recalled his March 2014 visit to Japan’s agriculture-based Ibaraki prefecture and said high-level commitments between Vietnam and Japan have been fulfilled after the visit.

Accordingly, he said the Japanese agencies have assisted fishermen in central Vietnam in processing tuna and received Vietnamese engineers for training in Ibaraki prefecture.

With nearly 70% of the population living off farming, agriculture and rural development is one of Vietnam’s priorities in its development strategy, Sang said, but added that the added value and quality of Vietnamese farm products remain low due to obsolete technology.

He proposed that the Minister seek additional Japanese investment in Vietnam, assist the country in developing the processing industry and agricultural services, and modernise farming techniques.

He also thanked Japan for having provided its official development assistance to Vietnam over the years.

For his part, Hayashi said the Japanese delegation had made a fact-finding tour of several farms in Vietnam and found that Vietnam needs solutions for increasing agricultural productivity.

He appreciated Vietnam’s policy enabling Japanese farm products to enter its market and creating conditions for Japanese businesses to operate in the country.

Through the current dialogue mechanism, Japan will help Vietnam successfully develop agricultural value chains, so as to improve economic efficiency of both sides, he said.

He expressed his belief that with its improved living standard, Vietnam is attracting more Japanese investment.

The minister also voiced his support for Vietnam’s stance towards handling the current tension in the East Sea by peaceful measures in accordance with international law.

Vietnam, Laos unveils La Lay border gate

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh and his Lao counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith cut the red ribbon, inaugurating the La Lay International Border Gate on June 25.

Lying on the borderline between Dakrong district in Vietnam’s Quang Tri province and Laos’ Salavan province, La Lay was upgraded to a main border gate in 1998.

Total import-export value via the gate has constantly increased in recent years from US$7.7 million in 2010 to US$63 million in 2013 and is expected to surpass US$100 million in 2015 and US$245 million in 2020.

At the inauguration ceremony, Deputy PM Minh stated that along the 2,000km border between Vietnam and Laos there are 8 pairs of international border gates which have contributed to promoting socio-economic development, maintaining security and national defence, and meeting the need for exchanges, including trade, between the two countries.

The opening of the border gate pair is an important event, manifesting Vietnam-Laos ties of friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation and mutual trust between the two countries’ leaders and peoples, he said.

Minh emphasised that the gate will open new cooperative opportunities in trade, investment and tourism among Vietnam’s central provinces and Laos’ southern provinces and Thailand’s south-eastern provinces. It will also help attract investment from the two countries and abroad, and support development of the East-West Economic Corridor.

Currently Quang Tri has two international border gates – Lao Bao and La Lay. Under a project submitted to the Prime Minister for approval, La Lay will become the fourth-tier urban area before 2020 and third-tier urban area in 2025.

Besides Khe Sanh-Lao Bao urban areas taking shape, the province is developing another urban area in the west near Vietnam-Laos border, helping tighten friendship between Vietnam’s Quang Tri province and Laos’s Salavan and Savannakhet provinces.

Vietnam vows to enhance economic ties with Francophone states

Vietnam has pledged to strengthen its economic bonds with member nations of the Francophone community and facilitate links between their businesses and banks.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh made the commitment at a two-day forum which opened in Ho Chi Minh City on June 25, aiming to step up cooperation between banks in Francophone states in Africa and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Ninh said the forum’s objective is to further boost two-way trade between Vietnam and African countries as well as the South-South Cooperation between Francophone member countries.

ASEAN, Africa and the Francophone community have made progress in trade and investment ties, notably two-way trade between Vietnam and Africa reaching 4.29 billion USD in 2013, up 22 percent against the previous year.

The Deputy PM added Vietnam always backs economic development within the community as well as economic ties between the community with African partners and ASEAN countries.

With 14 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to be completed in the 2015-2020 period, Vietnam expects to become a crucial link in the Asia-Pacific economic network as well as contribute greatly to the establishment of ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.

Vu Tien Loc, Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said although trade and investment ties between Vietnam and its African partners have improved continuously, with an annual growth of 30-40 percent in the former’s exports to the continent, the two sides still face many obstacles, especially regarding payments.

To tackle the difficulties, State agencies and trade promotion organisations of both sides have held dialogues with credit institutions and banks on this issue, he said, adding that some connections have been set up but no specific agreement on support for businesses has been reached.

Sylvere Bankimbaga, Deputy Chairman of the Club of Banks and Credit Institutions in Africa, said it is essential to establish a mechanism to facilitate financial flows, thus reducing transaction costs through cutting intermediaries as well as promoting mutual trust.

The two-day forum is expected to address difficulties facing by businesses in Francophone states and open up investment opportunities for them.

Lao Party officials visit Vietnam

Hoang Binh Quan, head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations, hosted a reception in Hanoi on June 25 for a delegation from the Lao Party Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations.

Sounthon Saynhachac, the Lao commission’s deputy head and Deputy Foreign Minister, expressed her thanks for Vietnam’s valuable support for Laos, affirming that her country will do its utmost together with Vietnam to nurture and lift the traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between the two Parties, States and peoples to a new height.

Quan said he is delighted at the fine development of the two countries’ bilateral ties and the close connections between the two commissions.

He informed the guests of the current East Sea situation, stressing that China’s placement of its Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig deep inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf has seriously infringed international law, including the 1982 United Nations Conventional on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) to which China is a signatory.

China’s action has also violated an agreement reached by the two countries’ leaders on principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues, at the same time threatened peace, stability, safety, and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea, causing concern for the international community, Quan said.

He reiterated Vietnam’s consistent stance of resolutely safeguarding its sovereignty by peaceful means on the basis of international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS and the DOC.

Sounthon Saynhachac stressed the importance of maintaining peace, stability and cooperation in the East Sea. She said Laos is concerned about the recent developments in the East Sea and is keeping a close watch on the situation.

She expressed her hope that Vietnam and China will restrain themselves and step up negotiations in order to solve disputes peacefully in line with international law, especially the UNCLOS.

Earlier, she had a working session with her Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Huy Tang.

Lao PM receives Vietnamese finance minister

Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong on June 25 held a reception for Vietnam’s Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung, who is on a working visit to Laos from June 25-27.

Dung briefed the Lao PM on Vietnam’s socio-economic situation in the first half of this year, notably the country’s success in stabilising economic indicators.

He also informed the host about outcomes of the talks between the two Finance Ministries, stressing that both sides agreed to promote cooperation and the sharing of experience in the field, especially in State budget collection.

Thanking the Lao Government for its support to Vietnamese enterprises, the minister expressed his hope that the Lao side will continue to help ease difficulties for the firms so that they can operate more effectively in the country.

For his part, the Lao leader highly valued the Vietnamese finance ministry’s support to its Lao counterpart, especially in human resource training and the sharing of management experience.

He voiced his hope that the two sides will continue to forward their collaboration in the time ahead, helping reinforce Vietnam-Laos friendship.

Promoting Vietnam-Germany people-to-people diplomacy

The Vietnam-Germany Friendship Association (VGFA) on June 24 led by its president Vu Huy Hoang worked with its Berlin partner, promoting people-to-people diplomacy.

They worked out plans and activities to mark 40 years of diplomacy between Vietnam and Germany in 2015.

Hoang briefed friends on the VGFA’s recent operations and expressed his hope that the German government will continue to support the Vietnamese community in integrating into the residing society.

President of the Germany-Vietnam Friendship Association (GVFA) Siegfried Sommer reported on the GVFA’s activities, particularly those to show solidarity with Vietnam in its struggle to protect sea and island sovereignty in the East Sea.

Professor Wilfried Lulei, a GVFA member, talked about outstanding study achievements of young Vietnamese young people in Germany, employment opportunities and support for Vietnamese students at German universities.

The GVFA put forward some initiatives to organise activities on the occasion of the two countries’ major anniversaries.

The two sides exchanged measures to foster coordination and to attract young people to their campaigns.

The GVFA has carried out many activities showing its solidarity and friendship with Vietnam, such as co-organising a seminar to mark the 60th anniversary of Dien Bien Phu victory and other talks on Vietnam’s current situation.

The association also adopted a statement condemning China’s illegal placement of Haiyang Shiyou-981 rig inside Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone and supporting Vietnam’s stance towards handling the dispute.

Its members and President Siegfried Sommer joined marches conducted by Vietnamese people in Berlin, rebuking China’s violations and granting interviews to the local media.

Hoang thanked the GVFA’s support and invited the association’s leaders to visit Vietnam to mark the 30th anniversary of the VGFA in 2015.