Madam Ambassador, could you please talk about your priorities during your office term in Vietnam?
Vietnam is important to us in many different ways. Clearly we would like to see an advance in the bilateral relationship. We are to have very good cooperation in all aspects including the commercial sphere, and people-to-people exchange.
Certainly we can do more. I hope to be able to demonstrate we really value Vietnam as a partner in the Asian region, and want to expand our commercial relations.
Vietnam is now in a very good position of becoming an upper middle-income country. We do have a lot of cooperation with Vietnam in the development sector and I hope, together with local officials, to move to the next stage our cooperation. We have many interests in climate change, company-to-company, and people-to-people ties. We are working on that.
In the political sphere, our Foreign Affairs Minister visited Vietnam a couple of months ago. Before him, in December last year, our Minister of International Development was here. Those high-level visits demonstrate that our leaders are very committed to the bilateral relationship.
During Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion’s visit, he announced a C$15-million ($11 million) climate change innovation fund, to facilitate our work with Vietnamese partners on sustainable development. These are some examples of what we are working together.
Canadian Ambassador to Vietnam Ping Kitnikone talks with journalists at the “Savour Canadian Delights” cuisine event.
Photo courtesy: Canadian Embassy.
After the “Savour Canadian Delights” cuisine event held on November 10 in Hanoi, what plans does the Canadian Embassy have to support businesses of the two countries in boosting trade in the food and agriculture sector?
It’s noteworthy that our two economies are highly complementary. We are not only looking forward to expanding the access of Canadian food products here, but we also import Vietnamese agricultural products as well.
By sustaining it, we do events like this to raise the awareness, but that’s the first part. The Embassy’s trade service team in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City wants to keep working with more new contacts to expand our network in the local food buyers and food suppliers to further deepen the cooperation.
Agri-food and seafood is an increasingly important component of the bilateral trade relations. Canadian export of agri-food and seafood to Vietnam alone was valued at C$357 million in 2015, up by nearly 50% from a year earlier.
Canadian firms export seafood including lobster, oyster, black cod, snow crab and salmon. Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of snow crab. In addition, we ship beef and pork to Vietnam.
We are very happy to have fresh apples and cherries coming in. A local partner will be introducing an organic type of apple.
This fact indicates that Vietnamese consumers are increasingly sophisticated and are looking for more healthy food and more varieties.
Vietnamese producers are exporting to Canada cashew and other food products. The complementary aspect is that we are very good with food processing, we have technology and experience. We want to be global producers.
Could you please comment about Canadian firms’ investment trend in Vietnam in the time to come? Which are the sectors that Canadian companies care about?
Canadian investors are already present in Vietnam. In some sectors such as finance and insurance, they are very active. We have also invested in the ICT
sector as well as aerospace. We have a very good simulation capacity.
In the agri-food industry, we have a large delegation from industry associations in Vietnam now. The exciting thing about these industry associations is that they don’t represent just one or two companies, but the whole industry. That’s why we are very positive about our future.
What is the feedback of Canadian firms on Vietnam’s investment climate?
Canada is a trading nation. Canadian companies are always looking to work responsibly with local partners. Like other businesses, Canadian companies are looking for stability in the market situation. In that sense, we want a stable financial environment.
Thank you very much, Ambassador!