Optimism about future development of Vietnam-Netherlands relations

Update: 00:00 | 08/07/2017
​Following the visit to the Federal Republic of Germany and participation in the 2017 G20 Summit, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is going to pay a visit to the Kingdom of the Netherlands from July 9 to 11. On this occasion, Vietnamese Ambassador to the Netherlands Ngo Thi Hoa granted an exclusive interview to TWVR.
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During the last forty-four years, what are the highlights in Vietnam-Netherlands relations, Ambassador?

Netherlands was one of the first Western European countries to establish diplomatic relations with Vietnam after the Paris Agreement (1973). During the Vietnam War, while Vietnam was still carrying out the process of liberating South Vietnam and reunifying the country, Netherlands gave Vietnam moral support through anti-war movements and peace movements. The Netherlands also set up a hospital in Dong Ha, Quang Tri in 1968 to support Vietnam. Today, the hospital has been preserved as a historical museum. Furthermore, the Dutch-Vietnamese Health Committee continues to support Vietnam with a number of projects till this day.

optimism about future development of vietnam netherlands relations
Ambassador to Netherlands Ngo Thi Hoa (R) exchange gifts with the Mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb.

In the process of strengthening relations, the two countries have discovered many similar characteristics in terms of geographical and natural conditions. The Netherlands is well-known as a leader in commerce and flood control technology, as well as one of the world’s top exporters of agricultural products with modern agriculture. Meanwhile, Vietnam is an agricultural economy focusing on exportation with abundant consumer markets and labor forces.

In addition to that, Vietnam lies at the doorway to Southeast Asia while the Netherlands is the trade gateway to Western Europe. Citizens of the two countries share the same characteristics of industriousness, ambitiousness, innovation and creativity.

As a result, within the past forty-four years, Vietnam-Netherlands relations have developed into a Strategic Partnership on Climate Change Adaptation and Water Management in 2010. Later in 2014, the two countries also signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security. Since then, bilateral relations have been reinforced continuously and deepened across all fields.

The Netherlands always considers Vietnam a priority partner. At the same time, Vietnam’s state, government, localities and enterprises have highly supported policies of boosting cooperation with the Netherlands.

Until now, the two sides have defined five prioritized cooperative areas: climate change adaptation and water management; agriculture and food security; energy; sea-based economy and logistics services; smart cities.

Nowadays, rapid and profound global, science, and technological developments pose many challenges as well as new opportunities for the two countries across all fields such as trade, agriculture, education…

In years to come, the EU - Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) will create a solid legal framework for the two countries to expand trade and export. On the other hand, the two countries will continue to work together under bilateral and multilateral cooperation frameworks on addressing the challenges of climate change, sea-level rise, regional and global security.

In the context of a constantly changing world, common challenges will strengthen the two sides’ rapport. We can confidently believe in the future development of our countries’ relations.

optimism about future development of vietnam netherlands relations
Ambassador Ngo Thi Hoa and Dutch King Willem-Alexander. (Photo: MOFA)

Could you tell us about the special points in the 2017 bilateral relationship between Vietnam and Netherlands, especially the meaning of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's visit to the Netherlands?

It can be said that 2017 is a vibrant year in bilateral relations between Vietnam and Netherlands. Since the beginning of the year, the two sides have actively promoted cooperation within the framework of the Strategic Partnership on Climate Change Adaptation and Management as well as Sustainable Agriculture Development and Food Security.

In March 2017, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs (Director General of Agro and Nature Department) of the Netherlands, Marjolijn Sonnema, visited Vietnam to chair the Food Security Conference. On this occasion, there were 55 agreements in the field of agriculture signed between Vietnamese and Dutch partners.

From 18 - 21 April 2017, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung paid a visit and co-chaired the 6th Intergovernmental Conference on Water Management and Response to Climate Change. The two sides agreed to promote cooperation projects in this field, especially the Mekong Delta Project which focuses on the threat of salt intrusion and coastal erosion.

Furthermore, the two sides also agreed to work together on port management, logistics services and high-tech agriculture. Regarding other fields, last May, Queen Maxima visited Vietnam to enhance the implementation of comprehensive financial projects in Vietnam.

Deputy Minister of Public Security Nguyen Van Thanh paid a working visit to the Netherlands in March 2017, opening up cooperation opportunities between the two countries in the field of security, especially cybersecurity. Additionally, there are also many business and locality delegations visited the Netherlands to tap into the country’s knowledge and experiences.

In my opinion, the visit of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to the Netherlands is the most important milestone of the two countries' relations in 2017. This visit took place in a very special context.

Firstly, this is the first visit of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to the Netherlands as the head of Government, in an effort to boost open foreign policy, deepen international integration, and further develop the bilateral strategic partnership. On Netherlands’ side, Prime Minister Mark Rutte's party recently won the election with the highest number of votes and are preparing to begin his third term. The status of the two new leaders will create strong momentum for bilateral relations.

Secondly, the strategic partnership between the two countries has been developing in substance and in depth, step by step expanding other fields on the basis of promoting mutual benefit and the strengths of both sides.

Thirdly, the two countries are preparing to mark the 45th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations in April 2018.

In such special context, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc's visit to the Netherlands will be of great significance, marking a strong development in bilateral relations, strengthening trust and deepening the Strategic Partnerships.

During his visit, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc will attend a series of meetings with top leaders of the Netherlands, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Khadija Arib, the Speaker of the Senate Ankie Broekers-knol, leaders of ministries, branches, and localities in the Netherlands to discuss the bilateral relationship and issues of common concern.

In particular, the Prime Minister will spend a lot of time interacting with businesses including top Dutch companies such as Shell, Heineken, Unilever, and Damen; visiting advanced Dutch development models in the fields of agriculture, seaports, etc. Additionally, the PM will witness the signing ceremony of cooperation agreements, memorandums of understanding (MoU), letter of intent for cooperation, and a series of economic contracts between ministries, branches, agencies, localities, and enterprises of the two countries accross different fields.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's visit conveys an important message that Vietnam wants to strengthen its cooperation with the Netherlands in allfields including economics, trade, investment, science and technology, education and training, and to expandnew areas of cooperation such as seaport, transportation, infrastructure, smart cities ...

I hope that through this visit, cooperation between the two countries will have new momentum to consolidate and deepen the existing Vietnam-Netherlands strategic cooperation framework as well as open up new opportunities for cooperation, meeting the requirements and interests of both sides in the current and future context.

Sincerely thank you, Ambassador!

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