An important milestone of Czech-Vietnam relationship: Ambassador

Update: 14:19 | 12/04/2019
“For many reasons this visit represents another important milestone in traditionally very friendly relations between our nations which not only have exceptionally good past, but also excellent presence and very promising bright future”.  
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Czech Republic’s Ambassador to Vietnam Vítězslav Grepl emphasized that when sharing with The World and Vietnam Report on the occassion of the upcoming visit by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to Czech Republic from 16-18th April.

Could you please tell us the significance and main contents of the visit?

The visit of the Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phúc in the Czech Republic is a very significant one from many perspectives as more than ten years have passed since the last visit of the Prime Minister of Vietnam to the Czech Republic. We look very much forward to the upcoming visit as there is a lot of positive topics to talk about and to naturally continue the interaction between both Prime Ministers whose personal acquaintance started so successfully at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January this year. For many reasons this visit represents another important milestone in traditionally very friendly relations between our nations which not only have exceptionally good past, but also excellent presence and very promising bright future.

an important milestone of czech vietnam relationship ambassador
Czech Republic’s Ambassador to Vietnam Vítězslav Grepl. (Source: the Embassy)

I am more than happy to see that very active political dialog has been established within last years with a number of important visits on the highest level. The visit of the Prime Minister Phúc in my homeland is another great moment in our common history.

It is with pride to say that both governments maintain more than satisfactory frequency of high level political contacts with the aim to support mutual relations, trade and investment. During the last five years it was the Vietnamese President who visited the Czech Republic, soon followed by reciprocal visit of the Czech President in Vietnam. We also witnessed successful visits of the Speaker of the Czech Senate followed by visit of the Chairwoman of the National Assembly of Vietnam. Needless to say that Government Ministers and Parliamentary leaders routinely visit each other on the regular basis.

The agenda of the talks of the Prime Ministers is quite extensive, tackling the most important fields of our mutual cooperation, be it in the field of trade, investment, economic and scientific cooperation, transfer of technologies, exchange in culture and education, environment, people-to-people relations etc. Excellent and highly valued Vietnamese-Czech relations in defence and security will definitely be reflected in further and more progressive cooperation.

Currently, we have accelerated common endeavours to establish a direct flight connection between both countries, thanks to straightforward and focused approach of Bamboo Airways. This project will be one of the key pieces of agenda of the Prime Ministers talks as the direct flight would greatly boost our bilateral cooperation in virtually every aspect of mutual relations. I believe that the PM´s visit will help to explore very concrete alternatives how to make the direct flight viable and beneficial to all parties.

The visit of the Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phúc will also be an excellent opportunity to share with him our appreciation over the existence of Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic and its positive contribution to the overall development of my homeland. The Prime Minister will meet our Vietnamese community, the third largest in the EU, which has been longing for his visit for some time already. I am proud that it was my Government who granted the status of ethnic minority to the Vietnamese community as the only one in Europe. It is a clear sign of respect and recognition of the role of Vietnamese community for the positive development and prosperity of the Czech Republic and deepening the Czech-Vietnamese ties.

I am confident that the visit will achieve tangible outcome in many fields. In particular, we expect further strengthening of bilateral trade, investment, defence cooperation, transfer of technologies and cultural exchange. We are also going to strengthen our mutual ties within a legal framework, namely through the EU – Vietnam Free Trade agreement which will definitely help promote free, sustainable, rules-based and mutually advantageous trade. Both countries are fully committed to the United Nations multilateral order underpinned by the three founding pillars – peace and security, human rights and development – and express strong support to effective multilateralism as a key element of WTO modernisation.

We have every reason to believe that the upcoming talks between both Prime Ministers will be held in the atmosphere of friendship and mutual understanding while talking about current political and economic development of Vietnam and the Czech Republic. The talks will definitely create new conditions for further promotion of bilateral relations and will provide both sides with sufficient ground for detailed exchange of views on the most important international and regional issues of mutual interest. Both Prime Ministers will also talk about next year´s celebrations of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the Czech Republic and activities related to that.

an important milestone of czech vietnam relationship ambassador
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Ambassador Vitezslav Grepl.

What are the most potential cooperation areas between Czech and Vietnam?

Economic cooperation is without doubt the most dynamic field of our bilateral relations. Vietnam is one of the most important trading partners of the Czech Republic in South East Asia Our bilateral trade has been growing steadily and the trade volume already exceeded 1 billion US dollars. Last year, the exports from the Czech Republic to Vietnam reached 140 million USD and the exports from Vietnam to the Czech Republic more than 1,03 billion USD. It is safe to say that there is a strong interest on Czech and Vietnamese side to further increase our economic cooperation both at the government level and at the corporate level.

Both governments do their best to maintain high frequency of political contacts with the aim to support mutual trade and investment. Upcoming visit of the Prime Minister of Vietnam in the Czech Republic will represent another important milestone in the relations between our countries because such high level visits followed by big companies looking for new business opportunities in Vietnam or the Czech Republic have always a strong long-term impact.

The potential to further increase investment flows between Czechia and Vietnam is very high as well. Vietnam has tremendously improved the conditions for international investors over the past decade and has become an attractive investment destination for Czech companies. The Czech businesses have already invested more almost 100 mil. USD in 30 investment projects in Vietnam and we believe that this positive trend will continue. We hope that successful Czech investors in Vietnam, like the company Home Credit, Hydra or Elmich, will soon be joined by another major Czech company Sazka, which is preparing its entry into the Vietnamese market.

The cooperation in science, R&D and innovations is a new and very promising field of our bilateral relations as well. The Czech Technology Agency together with the Science and Technology Agency of Vietnam are currently working on development of joint research projects, which will help to create new linkages between our economies. Promisingly looming transfer of technology for the production of light trucks and buses as a joint venture between the Czech automobile producer Avia and the Vietnamese investor Thanh Dat Group in Danang is a very good example of these endeavours.

The cooperation in defence is another important pillar of our economic relations. We are glad that we can help Vietnam in modernization of its army and enhancing its defence capabilities. As a traditional producer and exporter of defence technologies the Czech Republic is ready to continue its cooperation with Vietnam not only in the field of hi-tech supplies but also in the education of military personnel including the training the pilots of its Air Force, for example.

Mining industry is also a traditional field of our economic relations. Czech geological companies cooperate with Vietnamese partners in prospection of mineral deposits in Vietnam and in training of Vietnamese specialists. The Czech Republic, a renowned producer of crystal glass, is ready to help Vietnam with the exploitation of high quality silica sands and modernization of its light glass industry.

Could you share the prospects of EVFTA and prospects of our cooperation in the EU framework?

The EVFTA, which is expected to be signed this year, will have a wide-ranging impact on our bilateral trade and investment thanks to tariff cuts and strong commitments both from the EU and from Vietnam. The most prominent benefits to be expected are an increase in the trade of goods promoted by the reduction or elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers. The EVFTA will put an end to 99 percent of customs duties on goods traded between the Czech Republic and Vietnam. Additionally, Vietnam’s commitments to ensure an open and transparent investment and business environment will help to boost high quality investment from the Czech Republic into Vietnam. As a very open, export oriented economy and dedicated promoter of liberal trade, the Czech Republic is a strong supporter of the EVFTA and IPA and wishes to see it signed and ratified this year with no delay. Governments of both Vietnam and Czechia share mutual understanding that these new agreements will highly contribute to strengthening their relations and help promote free, sustainable and rules-based trade as well.

The Czech Republic belongs to the group of countries within the EU, which repeatedly call for speeding up the required approval process. We very much hope that the agreement with Vietnam will be signed soon and hope that Vietnam also shares this enthusiasm, and that the internal policies of Vietnam will be conducive to free trade, predictable business environment and will be aligned with international standards.

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