Thursday, November 24, 2016

Norway and Vietnam: 45 years of friendship and an ocean of opportunities

As Norway and Vietnam today mark the 45-year anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, we celebrate 45 years of friendship. Our cooperation has grown and evolved through these years, we have supported each other through difficult periods, and found new areas of common interest. Today, we are partners bilaterally, regionally and globally.
As we look back on these 45 years, we take pride in close cooperation in areas such as energy, governance, fisheries, oil and gas, environment and climate change, gender equality, sanitation and clean water. We see a healthy and thriving relationship. With Vietnam’s rapid development, new areas of cooperation are being opened up. Vietnam is an increasingly attractive destination for trade and investment.
Consequently, the commercial ties between our two countries are growing. Around 50 Norwegian companies are represented in Vietnam. As countries with long coastlines our industries are largely complementary in the marine and maritime sectors. We have a shared interest also in ICT and clean technologies.
Earlier this week, Norwegian and Vietnamese businesses and policymakers met in Ho Chi Minh City to explore the opportunities in the ocean industries – the Blue Economy.
Norway is a strong maritime nation, an ocean-based energy exporter and the world’s second largest seafood exporter. Vietnam is a large seafood producer and a producer of oil and gas. Our countries’ decades long successful cooperation in the fisheries sector have contributed substantially to the development of laws on fisheries and profitable and sustainable fish farming in Vietnam. Norway and Vietnam’s cooperation in the oil and gas sector have contributed to the improvement of Vietnam’s environment and safety standards in this sector.
Global mechanisms for open and fair trade with the goal of inclusive growth is a shared priority. Economic growth and free trade are effective tools for bringing about development. Negotiations are underway for a free-trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), of which Norway is a member. Such a free trade agreement will further enhance trade, drive investments and create jobs.
Norway and Vietnam have a constructive dialogue on human rights. We follow the ongoing legal processes in Vietnam with great interest and hope the ongoing efforts will lead to stronger protection of fundamental freedoms. We congratulate Vietnam on the ratification of two important human rights conventions recently – the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Vietnam is also an important partner for Norway in ASEAN. Regional integration, increased trade and development is part of the values and aspirations that we share. As a Sectoral Dialogue Partner to ASEAN Norway looks forward continuing our cooperation with Vietnam also in a regional setting.
In 2015, Norway’s Prime Minister Solberg visited Vietnam to study the country’s achievements in reaching the Millennium Development Goals. She was impressed by what she saw. Both Norway and Vietnam are responsible members of the international community, supporters of a strong and efficient UN and put emphasize on international rules and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Climate change and environmental concerns are included in a number of the Sustainable Development goals set by the global community. Norway supports Vietnam’s efforts to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from its forests through REDD+. Managing forests wisely makes sense also for the economy. Protecting forests increase resilience against climate change and helps to reduce poverty levels and preserve biodiversity.
Norway-Vietnam cooperation on climate has also aimed to reduce the negative effects of salt-water intrusion and drought on agricultural production in Vietnam. Cooperation between our researchers has helped improve forecasting of extreme weather events and mitigate consequences of geo-hazards, through building up capacities among young Vietnamese scientists for the good of future generations.
I am pleased to see that a growing number of Norwegian and Vietnamese tourists visit each other’s country every year. Our countries also benefit from the result of long lasting cultural cooperation and student exchange. Norway has a large community of people of Vietnamese family background, who further contribute to mutual understanding between our cultures and societies.
45 years of cooperation has laid a firm foundation for the further development and expansion of the relations between our two countries. I look forward to continuing our joint work to uphold and further strengthen our bilateral ties to the benefit of the peoples of our two beautiful countries and would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank all partners and friends of Norway in Vietnam for their cooperation and friendship.


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