New Zealand Embassy Ha Noi, Viet Nam

New Zealand Prime Minister and Foreign Minister return to Viet Nam

PM Key meets students at NZ' ACG International School in Ho Chi Minh City (Photo courtesy of Prime Minister's Office, 2010)

New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon Murray McCully returned to Viet Nam last week, for a bilateral visit to Ho Chi Minh City followed by attendance at the Fifth East Asia Summit and related meetings in Hanoi.

It was PM Key’s second visit to Viet Nam in 2010, after his visit here in July to commemorate 35 years of New Zealand – Viet Nam diplomatic relations. Mr McCully also visited Hanoi in January and again in July, demonstrating the importance with which New Zealand now views its links with Viet Nam.

In addition to meeting local leaders on the first visit to Ho Chi Minh City for both the PM and Minister, a primary purpose was to support and encourage New Zealand and Vietnamese businesses working together in some new fields that contain significant potential for future commercial collaboration.

This includes the aviation sector, given the interest of Vietnamese companies in NZ aircraft, pilot and crew training and other forms of NZ know-how; and the education sector, which has grown strongly as an area of bilateral cooperation in recent years. Prime Minister Key visited ACG International School, New Zealand’s largest investment in Viet Nam and the second largest international investment in Vietnamese education sector to date.

PM Key also attended a ceremony to mark the launch of a compressed natural gas (CNG) pumping station built by New Zealand engineering firm Intermech for Southern Gas Viet Nam. New Zealand’s expansion into these ‘non-traditional’ export markets demonstrates the breadth of potential opportunities for New Zealand companies here.

A highlight of the visit to Ho Chi Minh City was a lunch event to promote the Rugby World Cup (RWC) which New Zealand will host in 2011. Mr McCully also serves as Minister with responsibility for the RWC. Although not (yet!) a well-known sport in Viet Nam, there is strong potential for New Zealand to attract Vietnamese attention to both our country and the game through this global event, as evidenced by a strong turn-out to find out more.

In Hanoi, in addition to the East Asia Summit itself (involving the ten members of ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea), ASEAN members and New Zealand held a Commemorative Summit to mark New Zealand’s 35th year as a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN.

Prime Minister Key and Minister McCully also took the opportunity to hold talks with their Vietnamese counterparts, as well as other Asian leaders. Prime Minister Dung described the NZ-Viet Nam relationship as “going exceedingly well”, reflecting its elevation to “Comprehensive Partnership” status in 2009.

Areas identified during discussions for further expansion of bilateral cooperation included trade and investment, agri-business, English language teaching and cultural exchanges. This will build on the diverse range of links between our two countries that already exist across many sectors including political dialogue, business, defence, police, customs, science and technology, education and development assistance.

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