|Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Pereric Hogberg gives a speech at the press conference (Photo:VNA)
Upon addressing the event, Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Pereric Hogberg said that Sweden has always been a close friend of Vietnam in the past, today, and will continue to be in the future, noting that Vietnam is going ahead with its socio-economic success story.
Sweden’s official development assistance (DOA) for Vietnam has maintained for 46 years and risen to more than US$4 billion. Sweden was Vietnam’s second biggest ODA donor in the 1970s, the biggest in the 1980s, and the fourth biggest in the 1990s.
Bilateral cooperation has been targeted at health, paper production, afforestation, and administrative reform regarding taxation and law, with popular projects, including the Uong Bi hospital, the Vietnam National Children’s Hospital, and the Bai Bang paper plant.
The European nation has also supported Vietnam’s Doi Moi (Renewal) process and poverty alleviation and the country continues its support for Vietnam via its regional aid programmes for Mekong sub-region countries and other funding within the EU and UN frameworks targeting Vietnam.
Over the years, the two nations exchanged thousands of people working and living in their respective countries. In 2017, more than 50,000 Swedish tourists toured Vietnam.
As Vietnam becomes a middle-income economy, the bilateral partnership is moving toward a more balanced state with a focus on business and trade.
Partnerships are growing steadily across trade-investment, research exchange, education, culture, and tourism, with two-way trade outstripping US$1 billion annually and projected to grow even further. Sweden’s popular firms like ABB, Eriksson, H&M, IKEA, Volvo, AstraZeneca, Atlas Copco, SKP, Tetra Pak, and Electrolux have found their ways in Vietnam. The adoption of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) will surely help strengthen Swedish presence in Vietnam.
2019 will see bilateral high-level visits, cross-cultural exchanges, an internet forum, and the Vietnam-Sweden business summit taking place, Hogberg said while believing that the two nations’ friendship will flourish, particularly in trade, science, culture, and civil society development.
Dinh Toan Thang, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of European Affairs, highlighted the period of half a century that the two countries have made their way through together, saying Vietnam holds high regard for Sweden’s spiritual and financial assistance during its struggles for independence and later national construction period.
He also touched upon sectors of the two sides’ interest, including trade-investment, heath care, education, transport, information telecommunication, and environmental protection, noting that this year’s celebration of 50 years of bilateral ties will open up new prospects for the two countries to deep mutual understanding.
The same day, the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Swedish Embassy also held a ceremony marking this event.
In his address, Permanent Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son stated that Sweden was the first western country to have established diplomatic ties with Vietnam on January 11, 1969. Over the past five decades, the European country has provided US$3.4 billion in non-refundable aid for Vietnam.
Bilateral cooperation has progressed across trade-investment, education-training, health care, science-technology and tourism. Two-way trade exceeded US$1.4 billion in 2018. Sweden ranked 34th out of the 130 countries and territories with investments in Vietnam.
Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Pereric Hogberg recalled that 50 years ago, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme and people joined street parades calling for an end to the war in Vietnam.
Sweden became one of the largest donors of Vietnam during the 1970-1990 period and it has been always a trustworthy partner and will continue partnering with Vietnam in the future.
The forthcoming signing of the EVFTA will add fresh impetus to trade and investment growth, thus facilitating trade liberalisation and multilateral order in the world.
Both sides will continue their close coordination at international forums in order to jointly deal with regional and global issues of mutual concern, he said.
The ambassador said with confidence that a string of activities during 2019 will foster bilateral friendship and mutual understanding between both the two nations.