US willing to work with Vietnam in COVID-19 fight: ambassador

VOV.VN - The United States considers Vietnam an important partner in the region and it stands ready to cooperate with Vietnam in combating the novel coronavirus pandemic, said US ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink.

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 US ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink is confident of the stronger US-Vietnam comprehensive cooperation partnership in future
The ambassador was speaking an exclusive interview granted to the Voice of Vietnam (VOV), shedding light on the comprehensive cooperative partnership between the US and Vietnam, particularly on health care.  

VOV: The coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll on all aspects of life globally, and Vietnam is no exception. What is your assessment of the measures Vietnam has taken so far to control the disease?

Ambassador Kritenbrink: I think Vietnam had done an outstanding job in responding to the COVID-19. The government and people of Vietnam have been proactive, cooperative and transparent, and we have been very impressed by Vietnam’s response.

We think from the very beginning Vietnam launched a nationwide effort to identify all cases, locate and quarantine contacts, provide necessary laboratory testing, engage the community, provide timely, accurate information for the public, mobilise all resources in order to have effective public health response.  

So if we look at the resource, we think Vietnam’s efforts above have paid off. Vietnam has largely controlled the spread of COVID-19 so that the number of cases remains relatively low. There have been no deaths. So again we think Vietnam has done an outstanding job, and as I have said publicly the US is proud to be Vietnam’s partner, and we stand together with Vietnam in this fight.

VOV: How have the two countries’ agencies and experts exchanged information and experience in dealing with the disease?

Ambassador Kritenbrink: Well, I am proud to say the US and Vietnam have long standing cooperative relationship on health matters. And the single largest team within the US mission is the health team, comprising hundreds of people working with the Vietnamese partners. They represent the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Defence and State Departments and others. Out approach is to cooperate with Vietnam to help build the country’s health capacity, including its ability to check and combat endemic disease. 

We do this under the umbrella of the Global Health Security Agenda, and again we think Vietnam has been an outstanding partner.

Over the last 20 years, the US has provided more than US$700 million to Vietnam to help build its health capacity. And most recently I think the USAID has provided an additional US$2.9 million to Vietnam to help the country combat COVID-19. That also includes our support to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the work we have been doing together with the Ministry of Health to address surveillance, laboratory support, outbreak response, community education, risk community and infection prevention and control.

Our assistance is not only focused on providing financial assistance but technical advice as well.

The US CDC has large and strong technical staff here and they work directly with the Ministry f Health in many aspects of outbreak response. We provide technical assistance for surveillance, data analysis, laboratory testing, field investigation, infection prevention and control. Such cooperation has been provided to 28 provinces. CDC within Vietnam, 30 hospitals, nine animal health laboratories together with our partnership.

We are proud that both the US and Vietnam have a strong partnership on health for a long time. And we are also proud that the two countries expressed their willingness to join the fight against COVID-19.

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US President Donald Trump twitted on April 8 the first shipment of 500 protective suits had arrived in the US from Vietnam 
VOV: US President Donald Trump on April 8 twitted his thanks for Vietnam after the first batch of “Made-in-Vietnam” protective suits had arrived in the US for the coronavirus fight. This timely cooperation also proves the strength of the US-Vietnam partnership. How will such cooperation be promoted in the near future?

Ambassador Kritenbrink: Let me make clear two main points. We were really proud to work together with the Vietnamese partner, as well as the two great American companies DuPont and FedEx, to carry out this joint activity, so that we were able to rapidly ship hundreds of thousands of these protective suits to the US from Vietnam. And it directly contributed to the American fight against COVID-19 and protect American healthcare workers.  

But given the current context, we have worked closely together to get these protective suits to the US very quickly, we are very grateful to Vietnam for that cooperation.

We think the economic and trade ties are central pillars in our entire comprehensive cooperation partnership with Vietnam. We are confident that trade and investment will remain the cornerstone in the US-Vietnam partnership and that relationship will continue of course going forward.

VOV: 2020 marks 25 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries. What policy you think is needed to promote bilateral trade cooperation and, at the same time to overcome the challenging times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ambassador Kritenbrink: 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of our partnership with Vietnam, we are very excited about that. Over the last 25 years, the US and Vietnam have become close partners and friends, Vietnam is one of our most important partners in the region, and we cooperate in an amazing and broad array of sectors, from economics and trade to security development, education, health care and energy as well.

What should we do to go forward in our trade relationship, especially in the light of COVID-19 challenge?    

I would say the two countries should keep doing what they have been doing, focusing on having fair and reciprocal trade, expanding trade and investment, and addressing economic access market challenges that they present themselves.

More specifically, I think the two countries and theirs leaders will collaborate on how together we can restart the global economy and overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19. I am confident that the US and Vietnam will work together on that.

And I know that our colleagues in the USAID will continue implementing their programmes as well, designed to support the strong partnership with Vietnam, including our support to help build small and medium-sized enterprise capability in the country.

VOV: Thank you very much, the ambassador.


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