They will set out avenues for more fruitful cooperation in the future. Belgium and Vietnam have a long tradition of cooperation in the sector and Belgian funding has helped Vietnam develop its dairy and aquaculture sector.
A new and ambitious 12 million euros academic cooperation programme was launched in 2017. Both Ministers will also witness a signing ceremony between Solvay and PetroVietnam to develop a high performing fertilizer that is less detrimental to water and soil.
Mr. Ducarme will further encounter Belgian SMEs and Beluxcham – the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce – and take a tour of the chocolate processing factory of Puratos Grand-Place in Bac Ninh province to further understand the activities of these enterprises in Vietnam.
Puratos Grand-Place was awarded a new credit of 1,25 million euros by the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) to further expand its activities in Vietnam. The Belgian company specialized in the processing of cocoa has been striving to vertically integrate its production in the country. The credit will be used for a liquor grinding line in Ben Tre province.
Mr. Ducarme will also visit the Vietnam National University of Agriculture. Belgium is the biggest development partner of VNUA. The Belgian University of Liège has a structural cooperation with its Vietnamese partner to boost its academic performance and to increase the number of PhD students. In addition, specific research is done on the Pietrain Pig and an upgrading of the fruit post-harvesting process. The Belgian development cooperation also supports an agricultural business incubator at VNUA.
The Belgian Federal Minister for Agriculture’s visit takes place during the celebration of 45 years of diplomatic relations between Belgium and Vietnam. He will also participate in the exclusive culinary event “A Taste of Belgium” showcasing authentic Belgian cuisine and high-quality Belgian produces at Pullman Hotel.
Belgium and Vietnam have been important agricultural partners. The main orientations of the Belgian development cooperation in Vietnam are green growth, water management, and innovation. Belgium has for example been pivotal in the development of the dairy sector in Vietnam at the end of the nineties and the beginning of the 21st Century. In the field of academic cooperation, both Flemish as well as French speaking universities have longstanding partnerships with Vietnamese counterparts.
For agriculture in particular Belgian universities have excellent cooperation programs with the Vietnamese National University of Agriculture (Hanoi), Nong Lam University (HCMC) and Can Tho University. This university cooperation has contributed to the development of the Vietnamese aquaculture, and is contributing to research on the adaptation of Vietnamese agriculture to climate change, on food technology and safe food.
In addition to university cooperation, the Belgian NGO Ricolto supports smallholder farmers in their transition to safe rice and vegetable production and the Trade for Development Centre helps cocoa farmers to get their cocoa “Fair trade” certified and to increase their yield and income.
Friendship and multifaceted cooperation between Belgium and Vietnam have been developed over the last 45 years since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1973. Last year, the partners looked back on 40 years of presence of the Belgian Development Cooperation in Vietnam. In particular, Belgium has assisted Vietnamese education through scholarship programs and knowledge exchange. So far, more than 2,000 Vietnamese got a Belgian education.
From being long standing partners in development cooperation, Belgium and Vietnam have been maturing bilateral ties in different sectors. The volume of trade between the two countries hovered around US$2.45 billion in 2016. An increasing number of Belgian companies are investing in Vietnam.