Deepening Norway - Vietnam traditional friendship: Ambassador

Update: 16:52 | 16/05/2019
“This trip will reaffirm Norway-Vietnam strong relations, deepen our traditional friendship and further boost the cooperation between our two countries in a more practical and efficient manner”.
TIN LIÊN QUAN
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Norway’s Ambassador to Vietnam Grete Lochen emphasized that opinion when sharing with The World and Vietnam Report on the occassion of the upcoming visit by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to Norway.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is going to pay an official visit to Norway. How would you think about the meaning of this visit to the development of the Vietnam-Norway relationship?

The visit by Prime Minister Phuc takes place in the context that Vietnam and Norway soon are to celebrate our 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations (1971 - 2021). 48 years ago, Norway was among the first Western European countries that established diplomatic ties with Vietnam. This friendship has come a long way since then.

deepening norway vietnam traditional friendship ambassador
Norway’s Ambassador to Vietnam Grete Lochen. (Source: Embassy)

Since the early days of our relations, both sides have been maintaining high-level encounters. Most recently, Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg paid her first official visit to Vietnam in April 2015, and Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung also visited Norway early November 2018.

Although our Prime Ministers already have met each other, such as, on the sidelines of the G7 Summit (June 2018) and ASEM 12 (October 2018), this is the first visit by a Vietnamese Prime Minister to Norway since 1999. This trip will reaffirm Norway-Vietnam strong relations, deepen our traditional friendship and further boost the cooperation between our two countries in a more practical and efficient manner.

How do you evaluate the Norway - Vietnam cooperation in terms of its achievements and the potentials?

Norway and Vietnam have enjoyed a healthy and steadily evolving relationship over the past 48 years in numerous areas such as fisheries, oil and gas, environment and climate change, education, gender equality, and human rights. Norway has provided over 2.8 billion Krone of ODA to Vietnam (USD 320 million), and we are happy to see Vietnam has successfully developed into a middle-income country. This has marked a significant shift in our historical relationship. We are no longer donor and recipient countries, we are now equal partners bilaterally and multilaterally.

In addition to regular political consultations, our countries share a strong interest in increased trade and investments, especially in the marine/maritime sectors and clean energy. We work together to address global issues such as environmental protection, climate change, sustainable development, including sustainable ocean economy and promotion of a strong and efficient UN.

I believe there is a strong potential for further strengthening our trade and business cooperation. Vietnam is currently home to approximately 40 Norwegian companies. Since my arrival to Vietnam last September, I have met over 20 Norwegian companies that were visiting Vietnam to explore the investment and cooperation opportunities in the marine sector such as aquaculture and marine rest raw material processing, as well as renewable energy sector and LNG gas. Norway has a lot of expertise and advanced and green technologies to offer in these sectors. I do see a lot of potential for the Norway-Vietnam business cooperation when I see Norwegian companies’ enthusiasm and hope. Norwegian companies will contribute positively in Vietnam through sustainable and responsible business practices.

Last week, some companies of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) went on a study mission to Norway to learn about our experiences in aquaculture particularly how to produce high-quality salmon fingerlings. Our long experience within aquaculture could be of benefit for Vietnam and your plan to develop a worldwide branding for pangasius products.

A Vietnam-Norway Business Forum to be organised during this Prime Minister’s visit would open up new business and trade opportunities. I hope both Norwegian and Vietnamese businesses can take advantage of these opportunities.

deepening norway vietnam traditional friendship ambassador
The Ambassador Grete meets farmers growing coffee in Quang Tri province.

What would be priorities during your term in Vietnam to further intensify the Norway-Vietnam cooperation?

Long history of relationship has laid a strong foundation for the two countries to continue a flourishing friendship. On this occasion, I would highlight some areas in which I believe we can cooperate better and more effectively.

Vietnam and Norway are both coastal nations. We have both been fishing nations for several centuries and are still among the 10 largest fisheries nations in the world. Oceans truly connect us. Norway and Vietnam take pride in our marine cooperation for the last 30 years, which spans from the policy-making to academic and business collaboration. We, indeed, benefit from the cooperation in the ocean related industries and see the need for a sustainable blue ocean economy.

The Norwegian government has issued a new and ambitious Blue Ocean Strategy, which has a strong focus on developing safer, greener, and more sustainable ocean economy during the years to come. This strategy includes both national and global elements such as green technology, digitalization, innovative uses of marine resources, international diplomacy, and the fight against illegal fishing and plastic pollution.

Both governments see the need to address the severe plastic pollution in the world oceans to keep healthy oceans for our children and generations to come. Our Prime Minister Erna Solberg is a champion of the Ocean Initiative-Sustainable Blue Economy. Prime Minister Phuc has raised awareness on this issue and recently called for joint action to deal with plastic waste pollution.

Norway has a long history in renewable energy. Modern Norway was built and industrialized when we started to utilize our rivers and waterfalls to produce electricity more than 125 years ago. Hydropower, a renewable energy source, is still the backbone of the Norwegian power system and will remain so in the foreseeable future. Norway also possesses advanced solutions for solar power and LNG gas. With advanced and greener technologies and technical solutions that aim at sustainable use and protection of natural resources, Norwegian companies are ready to share knowledge and expertise with Vietnam in the areas of mutual interest.

Norway and Vietnam both support multilateral cooperation. Norway is a staunch supporter of the UN and a rule based international order. Global challenges need global solutions. Teamwork makes the dream work. Like Vietnam, Norway has submitted its candidacy to a seat on the Security Council 2021-2022 and is ready to serve and work together with Vietnam.

In addition, ASEAN with Vietnam being an active member has become a community with substantial economic and trade expectations. Norway-ASEAN sector dialogue partnership was signed in 2015, and Norway has appointed an ASEAN ambassador, based in Jakarta. This shows the importance of ASEAN as a regional organisation for Norway. With Vietnam taking over the Presidency in 2020, I see new opportunities in further strengthening our ties in a regional setting.

I look forward to the visit of Prime Minister Phuc to Norway. It will be a great honour to receive him in my hometown Oslo.

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