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INTERVIEW WITH H.E. PRIME MINISTER NGUYEN TAN DZUNG BY THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST


                                                                                           Hong Kong, April 2009

Question: Do government-to-government relations adequately reflect the proximity of Hanoi to Hong Kong as well as long standing trade, investment and tourism ties? How would you like to see Hong Kong – Vietnam relations develop? What do you hope to achieve with your visit to Hong Kong?

Answer:

As one of the important financial centres of the world, Hong Kong is always one of the top partners of Vietnam in terms of investment, trade and tourism. After the return of Hong Kong to China, the Vietnam-Hong Kong relations have strongly expanded in various areas in recent years.

Our economic and trade relations grow strongly, especially after Vietnam’s accession to the WTO. By the end of December 2008, total trade turnover between the two sides amounted to US$ 3.5 billion, up by 40% as compared to 2007. In terms of investment, by the end of 2008, Hong Kong had 516 projects in Vietnam with US$ 6.6 billion in registered capital with some worth hundreds of million USD, ranking the 7th among 84 countries and territories investing in Vietnam. Both sides are actively working with each other and sharing experience in addressing the global economic crisis.

The potentials for cooperation between Vietnam and Hong Kong are enormous, not only in the areas of economics, trade, finance and investment but also in culture, education and tourism. The two sides need to take greater efforts to better tap and unleash these potentials. During my trip, I will discuss with Hong Kong leaders and businesses on the key directions and measures to further boost our cooperation. I am confident that the relationship between Vietnam and Hong Kong will see strong growth in the time to come, thus bringing about practical benefits to both sides and contributing to the furtherance of the Vietnam-China relationship in general.

Question: Are you confident of economic recovery soon? Are you worried that a so-called “second wave” of the financial crisis in the region could threaten Vietnam’s recovery plan?

Answer:
The global economic and financial crisis is evolving in a very complex manner, affecting all countries at various levels. As a highly open economy, Vietnam is also feeling considerable impacts of the crisis, especially on its export, foreign investment, employment, tourism and people’s life.

To cope with the crisis and prevent economic slowdown, the Government of Vietnam is applying comprehensive measures to promote production and export; stimulate investment and consumption; implement proactive, flexible and effective financial and monetary policies; and ensure social security and intensify poverty reduction programmes. In addition, we have also deployed measures to create the conditions for future sustainable development with focus given to enhancing and improving the effectiveness of international economic integration; accelerating economic restructuring and institutional reform; quickly improving the legal system; boosting the development of essential infrastructure like transportation, energy, education and healthcare; further accelerating the administrative reform and improving State management capacity; reforming and improving the effectiveness of the State-owned enterprises; focusing more on human resources development; protecting ecosystem and responding to climate change.

Thanks to appropriate macro-economic policies and adjustments, Vietnam’s growth in 2008 still recorded 6.2% and the socio-economic situation in the first three months of 2009 showed positive signs. Economic growth has reached 3.1%. Export has increased by 2.4%. The balances of trade and payment are kept with a slight surplus. Foreign reserve stays at a safe level. Inflation continues to be under control and CPI of March 2009 increased only by 1.32% against December 2008.

Though the amount of registered FDI shrinks a little bit as against the same period of last year, it still reaches US$ 6 billion. The stock market rebounds with the Vn-Index increasing by 37% in March and a strong surge in terms of trading volume and value. There is an upward trend in stock purchase by foreign investors. The confidence of Vietnamese investors is therefore strengthened. Many foreign investors regard Vietnam as a safe and attractive destination. I believe that the Vietnamese economy will be able to overcome the current difficulties and attain higher growth in the next quarters of 2009. It is expected that growth for the entire 2009 will be around 5-5.5%.

Question : Are you satisfied with the progress of Vietnam’s relations with China?

Answer:

Vietnam and China are two neighbouring countries enjoying a traditional and time-honoured friendship. Important progresses have been made in the relations between our two Parties and countries, especially since last year when General Secretary Nong Duc Manh of Vietnam and General Secretary Hu Jintao of China agreed to elevate our bilateral relationship to a ‘comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership’. The two countries have completed the land-border demarcation and marker installation. It is an event of great significance in the history of Vietnam-China relations.

The regular exchange of visits and contacts between our high-level leaders has become a decisive factor to promote bilateral relations, making them ever better and substantive. The two sides have also established a hotline between the two leaderships to allow direct discussions on important issues of bilateral relations as well as other international issues of mutual concern.

Economic and trade cooperation between the two countries has been further enhanced. China is the biggest trading partner of Vietnam for five years in a row. Despite the global financial crisis, our trade turnover still hit more than US$ 20 billion in 2008, marking an increase of 27% against 2007. To date, China has more than 600 projects in effect in Vietnam with a total registered capital of over US$ 2 billion, ranking the 16th among 84 countries and territories investing in Vietnam. Chinese investment in Vietnam has seen important progresses by the launch of the project on a Chinese economic and trade complex in Hai Phong worth US$ 4 billion. China is also a large market for Vietnam’s tourism. The number of tourists from China to Vietnam ranges between 600,000 and 800,000 a year and is expected to increase fast in the years to come.

Closer exchanges between Ministries, agencies, provinces, the youth and social organizations of both countries are creating the firm foundation for the further consolidation and enhancement of our friendship and cooperation.

In the coming years, both sides will increase high-level visits and meetings in various forms and further enhance the cooperation between our respective Ministries, agencies and provinces. This year, both sides are doing their best to keep trade turnover at the same level of 2008, striving towards the goal of US$ 25 billion in 2010, thus reducing trade deficit and gradually keeping trade balance. The two sides also agreed that the year 2010 would be the year of Vietnam-China Friendship to celebrate the 60th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. On this occasion, economic and cultural exchanges will be conducted in both countries.

Developing the Vietnam-China relations is the consistent policy and top priority in Vietnam’s foreign policy. I believe that under the 16-word motto and the 4-good spirit as well as both sides’ determination and efforts, the Vietnam-China comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership will further grow and meet the aspiration and interest of our two peoples, contributing to  peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world.

Question: Are you concerned at recent tensions in the Eastern Sea? Do you believe Vietnam will be able to co-operate to ease tensions long-term without affecting its sovereignty?

Answer:
After the completion of the land border demarcation and marker installation, Vietnam and China have settled two important issues relating to border and territory left over by history, namely land border demarcation and the delimitation of the Tonkin Gulf. This shows that Vietnam and China are fully capable of resolving the remaining bilateral issues in the spirit of fraternal comradeship, friendly negotiations and mutual interests. It is important for both sides to make efforts to soon sign the Protocol on Demarcation and Border Marker Installation and the Agreement on the Regulations of Border Management within 2009 in order to turn our borderline into a border of peace, friendship and long-lasting stability for our mutual development.

In regard to maritime issues, the two sides are effectively implementing the Agreements on Tonkin Gulf Delimitation and Fishery Cooperation in the Tonkin Gulf concluded in 2000. Efforts are also being made to firmly push forward the negotiations on delimitation of the area beyond the Tonkin Gulf’s mouth.

Both sides agreed that the focus of the talks in the time to come would be on maritime issues, maintenance of peace and stability at sea and the intensification of cooperation in possible fields. Both sides will join efforts with the parties concerned to seek fundamental, long-lasting and mutually acceptable solution to issues at sea.
The advancement of the Vietnam-China traditional friendship is in the interests and responsibility of both sides. I believe that the two countries should seriously abide by the common understanding agreed by the two countries’ leaderships based on the larger interest of the two countries and for the sake of peace, stability and development in the region and the world to address the issues left over by history as well as other emerging ones through peaceful dialogue and negotiation on the basis of respect for the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the DOC.

 
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