Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc was invited to the Outreach Session of the G7 Summit in Charlevoix. What would be Vietnam’s role at the event?
Ambassador Ping M. Kitnikone speaks during an "Canadian food" event in Hanoi. Photo: Courtesy of the Canadian Embassy in Hanoi.
Prime Minister Trudeau, as Chair of G7 this year, invited Vietnam’s Prime Minister Phuc among selected leaders from around the world to attend the G7 outreach session.
The session is on the theme of Oceans with a view to finding solutions to the problems facing the world’s oceans.
Canada is concerned by the profound pressure being placed on our oceans, seas and coastal areas.
Meanwhile, Vietnam is also impacted by marine plastic litter. The session will be about building a more resilient coastal environment, a healthy ocean as well as looking at reducing the plastic in the ocean, etc. We firmly believe that a coordinated approach to their management is needed, one that integrates environmental, economic, and social consideration.
Hence, I believe the participation of PM Phuc would allow us to have a frank and open discussion on the issue and there will be concrete outcomes in what different nations and economies can do to evaluate the issue and identify the needed measures.
As Canada’s Ambassador to Vietnam, how would you describe Canada – Vietnam relations?
Vietnam and Canada have been long-time partners. We celebrate the 45th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations this year. The tie has enjoyed excellent and ever-expanding ties since 1973.
Besides, the Comprehensive Partnership was formalized during Prime Minister Trudeau’s trip to Vietnam in November 2017, to attend the APEC Summit and pay visit to Hanoi and HCMC last year.
The framework sets out a number of areas for cooperation namely political and diplomatic; trade and investment; development cooperation; defense and security as well as people-to-people ties.
Vietnam has been Canada’s largest trading partner in the ASEAN region since 2015. Vietnam is also the No.1 source of students from Southeast Asia. We now have over 14,000 Vietnamese citizens studying in Canada.
The two countries also have constructive dialogue on human rights. This will continue to be a key element of our partnership.
The growing ties between Canada and Vietnam are also evidenced by the greater frequency of visits by high-ranking Vietnamese and Canadian government officials, business leaders, think tanks, and academics.
Canada and Vietnam also collaborate within multilateral organizations, such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum which Vietnam hosted in 2017, the World Trade Organization, the security-focused Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, and La Francophonie.
So you can see there is a wide variety of discussions between the two countries, which means our bilateral relationship is entering a phase of expansion and collaboration.
What makes Vietnam interesting to Canadian investors? How would the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) help to attract more Canadian direct investments in Vietnam?
The CPTPP is an important platform for high standard trade and investment rules in the Asia-Pacific, which will appeal to Canadian investors. As such, it will provide investors with greater predictability and transparency.
Vietnam has been Canada’s largest trading partner in the ASEAN region since 2015. Two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Vietnam totaled $6.2 billion in 2017.
We recognize that Vietnam is uniquely positioned as a rapidly emerging economy, with GDP growth expected to be over 6.3% this year.
How would the CPTPP help enhance Canada-Vietnam relations?
The CPTPP as I said is a very important channel for us to connect, as a trading block representing 495 million people with a combined gross domestic product of C$13.5 trillion.
Between Vietnam and Canada, the deal opens up many opportunities. In 2017, Canada-Vietnam bilateral merchandise trade reached a new record C$6.2 billion, with much room remaining for growth.
The CPTPP will establish duty-free access for trade in goods between Canada and Vietnam, delivering benefits for Vietnam and Canada by eliminating tariffs for key our exports.
Many Vietnamese exporters will see reduction tariffs for goods such as technology components, textile, and footwear. From Canada side, we see interest from Vietnam in our agriculture and food products. With the CPTPP, we will receive more chances to introduce our products to the Vietnamese market.
Beyond the CPTPP, Canada is heading to advance the free trade agreement with ASEAN, which we are currently engaged in exploratory discussions.
Canada remains a big investor to Vietnam. What do you think about the prospect of Canada’s investment to Vietnam in the upcoming time?
I think the prospect is good. With the CPTPP and hopefully with the ASEAN-Canada FTA, it will provide more reassurance to Canadian companies. The other aspect is that Vietnam government has indicated their willingness to review and improve the business conditions for foreign firms.
However, to ehance the investment flow, Canadian firms coming Vietnam should be facilitated to access the information or the financing they want. Because it’s challenging to correct the first impression.
It's necessary for Vietnam to have more comprehensive regulations that favor investors in the sense that there is no different levels of playing fields.
Beyond all of that is awareness. Both sides need to really communicate to advocate Vietnames and Canadian enterprises to exploit their potential opportunities.
Thank you very much!