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Promoting multifaceted cooperation with the Czech Republic, Poland

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dzung began an official visit to the Czech Republic on September 12 at the invitation of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. Later he will visit Poland at the invitation of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

The visits take place at a time when the political situation in the Czech Republic has been stabilised and the economy in Poland has developed constantly. Both European countries have fostered the traditional ties of friendship with Vietnam and praised its role and prestige in the international arena.

After joining the European Union (EU) in 2004, the Czech Republic and Poland have expanded ties with Vietnam through the exchange of high-level visits. In 2006, Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Speaker of the Lower House Miroslav Vlcek visited Vietnam while Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka made an official visit to the Southeast Asian country in January 2005.

Economic and trade cooperation between Vietnam and the two EU member countries has grown and flourished in recent times.

Vietnam and the Czech Republic signed a protocol on the inheritance of agreements which had been already signed between Vietnam and the former Czech and Slovakia, and several other agreements to create a legal framework for future cooperation. They include agreements on double tax avoidance, investment encouragement and protection, and aviation transport. 

Since its establishment in 1998, the Vietnam-Czech Inter-Governmental Committee for Economic and Trade Cooperation has held annual sessions to map out specific cooperation areas between the two countries.

Vietnam and the Czech Republic signed an economic cooperation agreement on September 13, 2005 after having agreed to terminate the bilateral trade agreement in May 2004 following the Czech Republic’s membership of the European Union. Most recently, the two countries agreed to renew their previously signed agreement on investment encouragement and protection.

Two-way trade has increased considerably from US$41.6 million in 1997 to US$65 million in 2001 and US$130 million in 2006. Vietnam mainly exports farm products, food, and garments to the Czech Republic while importing machinery, glass and medicines from this country. The Czech Republic says it wants to boost its exports to provide a balance of trade and asks Vietnam to slash tariffs on its beer and crystals imported into Vietnam.

The Czech Republic has so far invested US$35 million in glass and crystal, beer, electric equipment and construction material projects in Vietnam. Its potential investment areas include energy, transport (locomotives, carriages, buses and trams), and mechanical engineering (machinery, engines and agricultural equipment).

The Czech Republic has joined donors’ conferences for Vietnam and has so far provided US$18 million in official development assistance for the country.

Poland considers Vietnam an important partner

Poland considers Vietnam one of its important trade partners in Southeast Asia. The two countries have agreed to boost bilateral cooperation in economics, trade and investment, and to support each other in areas of their strength such as shipbuilding, coal mining, waterways transport equipment, chemicals, national defence equipment, and preservation of historical sites.

Poland has provided official development assistance for Vietnam to train staff and restore Royal places in the former imperial city of Hue, the Cham tower complex in southern Binh Thuan province and the underground tunnel system in Ho Chi Minh City’s Cu Chi district. Among Polish-funded construction projects was the Poland-Vietnam Friendship Hospital.

Though bilateral economic ties have developed considerably, they have not yet matched their potential. Two-way trade has increased significantly from US$117 million in 2001 to US$330 million in 2006 and is expected to amount to US$350 million in 2007. Most trade value was generated from Vietnam’s exports.

Vietnam mostly ships garments, farm products and food to Poland, and imports consumer goods and processed farm produce from the country.

Poland is Vietnam’s No.1 trade partner in Eastern Europe. It is among countries which have already written off debts for Vietnam. The European country has also granted preferential credit to Vietnam to develop the shipbuilding and energy sectors.

Currently, about 40,000 Vietnamese nationals are residing in the Czech Republic, while the figure in Poland is 25,000. They have integrated well into their local communities thanks to policies from both countries.

Positive developments have been also seen in cultural, education and sci-tech cooperation between Vietnam and the two EU member countries.

Mr Dzung’s visits to the Czech Republic and Poland aim to further strengthen the relations of traditional friendship and multifaceted cooperation with both countries, and discuss measures to increase the efficiency of bilateral cooperation, particularly in economics, trade, investment, sci-tech, education and tourism. (VOV)

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