New Zealand Embassy Ha Noi, Viet Nam

New Zealand and Viet Nam

New Zealand and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam established diplomatic relations on 19 June 1975. But it was not until 1995 that New Zealand opened its Embassy in Ha Noi, and Trade New Zealand (now New Zealand Trade and Enterprise) established a commercial office / Consulate-General in Ho Chi Minh City. In May 2003 Viet Nam officially opened its own Embassy in Wellington.

Cooperation and contact between our two countries has flourished in recent years, boosted by Viet Nam’s rapid economic growth and its deepening regional and global integration into the Asia-Pacific region and global economy. Our bilateral relationship now features regular high level political visits, expanding trade and business links, ongoing development assistance (ODA) and expanding cooperation in newer areas such as science and technology, two-way investment, education links and trade in services. These fresh opportunities consolidate some lasting, traditional ties such as the New Zealand Aid Programme’s “English Language Teaching for Officials” (ELTO) Programme, which has seen over 400 mid-level and senior Vietnamese officials spend extended time in New Zealand since the early 1990s.

In September 2009 the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Viet Nam Central Committee H.E. Mr Nong Duc Manh and New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key issued a Joint Statement establishing a bilateral Comprehensive Partnership. Under the Comprehensive Partnership, both countries commit to taking our bilateral relationship to a new level in a range of different sectors including trade and business, science and technology, agriculture, education, defence, policing, development assistance and customs cooperation. An Action Plan for 2013-2016 (the second such Action Plan) containing specific initiatives to help implement the Partnership was signed by New Zealand Ambassador to Viet Nam, Haike Manning, and Viet Nam Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh in Hanoi in August 2013.

Political exchanges and parliamentary links

Regular senior leaders’ visits in both directions have occurred over the past several years.

In May 2005 Prime Minister Phan Van Khai marked the 30th anniversary of  New Zealand/Viet Nam diplomatic relations by a visit to New Zealand. President Nguyen Minh Triet visited as Head of State in September 2007, and Deputy Prime Minister (and then Minister of Education) Nguyen Thien Nhan in February 2008. In September 2009, General Secretary Nong Duc Manh’s visit added to this pattern of high-level contact.  Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc also visited Auckland and Wellington in April 2012.

Prime Minister John Key reciprocated by coming twice to Viet Nam in 2010, including a bilateral visit in July to commemorate 35 years of bilateral diplomatic relations. Viet Nam’s role in 2010 as Chair of ASEAN and the EAS saw Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon Murray McCully and other New Zealand ministers also visit Viet Nam that year.  Minister McCully returned to Viet Nam in November 2012 and March 2014.

Contact between respective parliaments/legislatures has also increased. Members of Viet Nam’s National Assembly led by Chairman Nguyen Van An visited New Zealand in July 2004. Since then, several Vietnamese Parliamentary and other delegations have visited New Zealand to study topics such as governance and the role of the Ombudsman, defence and security, science and technology, education, economic policy, judicial systems and indigenous peoples’ policies. A New Zealand/Viet Nam Parliamentary Friendship Group, designed to forge greater links and understanding between our two parliaments was established in July 2007. The New Zealand Speaker of Parliament Hon Dr Lockwood Smith visited Viet Nam in April 2009, and the Vice-President of the National Assembly Dr Uong Chu Luu visited New Zealand in June 2010.

Major New Zealand visits to Viet Nam:

  • Oct 2003: Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister
  • May 2004: Hon Trevor Mallard, Minister of Education
  • Jul 2004: Hon Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Nov 2005: H.E. Dame Silvia Cartwright, Governor-General
  • Jun 2006: Hon Phil Goff, Minister of Trade (APEC)
  • Nov 2006: Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister (APEC Leaders Meeting)
  • Feb 2008: Hon Rick Barker, Minister of Veterans’ Affairs/Civil Defence
  • Mar 2008: Hon Chris Carter, Minister of Education/Ethnic Affairs
  • Apr 2009: Hon Lockwood Smith, Speaker of Parliament, & cross-party MPs
  • Jan 2010: Hon. Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Mar 2010: Major General Rhys Jones, New Zealand Chief of Army
  • July 2010: Rt Hon John Key, Prime Minister
  • July 2010: Hon. Murray McCully (ASEAN Regional Forum)
  • Aug 2010: Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade (ASEAN-CER Economic Ministers Meeting)
  • Oct 2010: Hon Wayne Mapp, Minister of Defence (ASEAN Defence Mins +)
  • Oct 2010: Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key and Hon. Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs (including EAS Summit)
  • Oct 2011: Police Commissioner Howard Broad (Interpol General Conference)
  • Sept 2012:  Chief of NZ Navy, Rear Adm. Tony Parr
  • Nov 2012:  Hon. Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Aug 2013: Governor General of New Zealand, Lt Gen the Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae
  • Sept 2013: Hon Bill English, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence
  • Nov 2013: Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, Minister of Defence
  • Mar 2014: Hon Steven Joyce, Minister of Economic Development and Minister of Education
  • Mar 2014: Hon. Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs


Major Vietnamese visits to New Zealand:

  • Feb 2004: Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien
  • May 2005: Prime Minister Phan Van Khai (30th anniversary of dip relations)
  • Oct 2006: Vice President Madame Truong My Hoa
  • Sep 2007: President of Viet Nam, HE Mr Nguyen Minh Triet,
  • Feb 2008: Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Education and Training Hon Nguyen Thien Nhan
  • Sep 2009: General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Viet Nam, H.E. Mr Nong Duc Manh
  • Jan 2010: Vice Minister, Mr Nguyen Quan of Science & Technology
  • Feb 2010: Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Doan Xuan Hung
  • Feb 2010: Vice Minister of Industry & Trade, Mr Nguyen Thanh Bien
  • Mar 2010: Vice Minister of Transport, Mr Nguyen Hong Truong
  • Mar 2010: Vice Minister of Defence, Lt Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh
  • Jun 2010: Vice Chairman of National Assembly, Dr Uong Chu Luu
  • Jul 2010: Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, HE Mme Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan
  • Feb 2011: Vice Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Mr Nguyen Thanh Hoa
  • Mar 2012: Party Secretary / PPC Chair of Da Nang, Mr Nguyen Ba Thanh
  • Apr 2012: Deputy Prime Minister and Politburo Member HE Mr Nguyen Xuan Phuc, accompanied by Minister of Justice HE Mr Ha Hung Cuong, Prosecutor-General HE Mr Nguyen Hoa Binh and Inspector-General HE Mr Huynh Phong Tranh
  • Jul 2012: Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Diep Kinh Tan
  • Nov 2012: Vice Minister of Defence, Senior Lt Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh
  • Mar 2013: Minister of Defence and Politburo Member HE General Phung Quang Thanh
  • Sep 2013: Hanoi Party Secretary Mr Pham Quang Nghi 

In addition to these bilateral exchanges, our leaders, ministers and officials meet regularly in multilateral and regional fora. These include the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Asia-Pacific Economic Community (APEC), the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF, where New Zealand has dialogue partner status), and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).


Bilateral trade has grown significantly since New Zealand and Viet Nam signed a trade agreement in July 1994. Viet Nam subsequently made a series of commitments to simplify its trading regime and adopt international standards in areas such as customs valuation procedures and product classification as part of its accession to the WTO in January 2007. As a result, Viet Nam’s trading regime has become more transparent and consistent, although challenges remain.

Most recently, the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) which entered into force on 1 January 2010 has provided fresh opportunities for bilateral trade, migration and capacity-building assistance between New Zealand and Viet Nam. The AANZFTA includes two NZ-Viet Nam migration side-agreements. More recently, both countries have been involved in two regional trade negotiations - the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement, alongside Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and the United States, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), involving all other ASEAN countries, Australia, China, India, Japan and Korea.

Total two-way goods trade (year to March 2014): NZ$968 million

NZ goods exports to Viet Nam: NZ$500 million (year to March 2014)

Main NZ goods exports: Dairy products (over 50 per cent of total exports); timber and wood products; fish/seafood, hides/skins and fruit.

Viet Nam exports to NZ: NZ$468 million (year to March 2014)

Main Viet Nam goods exports: Electronics, machinery and equipment, clothes and footwear, furniture, plastics, fruit and vegetables and seafood. 

Services trade is not captured in the above statistics, but the export of education, tourism, and consultation services has become an increasingly important component of the economic relationship. Each year 2000 Vietnamese students travelled to New Zealand for study, at all levels from short-course training to doctoral research. We estimate that 10,000 – 15,000 New Zealand tourists visit Viet Nam each year. Estimated Vietnamese services exports to New Zealand in 2013 totalled NZ$36 million, with New Zealand services exports to Viet Nam reaching NZ$77 million.

Click here for more information on trade opportunities.

Official Development Assistance (ODA)

Click here for information on The New Zealand Aid Programme in Viet Nam.

Defence / Police / Customs

In 2001, the New Zealand Defence Attaché based in Bangkok was accredited to Viet Nam. New defence cooperation activities are being developed, including training opportunities for Vietnamese military in New Zealand. NZ navy ships HMNZS Te Kaha and HMNZS Endeavour visited Ho Chi Minh City in 2002 and 2004, and again in August 2006, and HMNZS Te Mana visited Ho Chi Minh City in June 2011 and April 2013. The NZ Chief of Defence Force visited Viet Nam in 2008, NZ Chiefs of Army in 2004 and 2010, NZ Chief of Navy in 2012 and the NZDF Command and Staff College in 2005 and 2011. Minister of Defence Hon Wayne Mapp visited Ha Noi in October 2010 to participate in the first ASEAN Defence Ministers Plus (ADMM+) meeting, chaired by Viet Nam. Vietnamese Vice Ministers of Defence visited New Zealand in 2007, 2010 and 2012. The defence accreditation to Viet Nam was transferred to New Zealand’s Defence Advisor in Singapore in early 2012.In March 2013, General Phung Quang Thanh became the first Vietnamese Minister of Defence to visit New Zealand.

New Zealand Police and Customs Attachés were cross-accredited to Viet Nam from Bangkok in 2003. New Zealand provides capacity-building assistance to Viet Nam in both areas in response to requests from Vietnamese counterpart agencies.

People-to-people links

There is a small permanent and semi-permanent community of perhaps 700-800 (estimate only) New Zealanders living in Viet Nam, mainly in Ho Chi Minh City but also in Hanoi as well as residents in central Vietnamese cities such as Quy Nhon, Danang and Nha Trang. Many are businesspeople and teachers. The Vietnamese community in New Zealand is thought to number around 4000 people.

An increase in education links has seen more Vietnamese students and their families visit New Zealand in recent years, but outward tourism to New Zealand is still in its infancy. Going the other way, however, available data suggests that at least 1000 NZ tourists a month visit Viet Nam, with high-end and group tourism building on traditional ‘backpacker’ visits.

In July 2012 New Zealand and Viet Nam established a bilateral Working Holiday Scheme (WHS), Viet Nam’s first with any bilateral partner.  Under the scheme, 100 young people per year from each country may visit the other for holiday purposes, with some incidental work and study possible to offset travel costs and upskill.  The quota for Vietnamese WHS travelling to New Zealand in the first year of the WHS is full, but a new quota will open up on 31 July 2013.  There are still plenty of quota places for New Zealanders wishing to have a working holiday in Viet Nam.  Respective embassies can provide more information.

In recent years several groups of New Zealand veterans have visited Viet Nam to commemorate ANZAC Day and other significant dates.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation works to promote people-to-people links between New Zealand and Asia, including Viet Nam, through support for youth, media and cultural exchanges as well as other activities. The ANZF also partners the Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam to hold periodic “Track Two” political dialogues between respective academics and research communities.

Other ad hoc cultural exchanges also take place. For example, a water puppet troupe from Hanoi performed at the 2011 Auckland Arts Festival.

The New Zealand Embassy entered the social media space in 2012 with its own Facebook Page, which can be viewed here.

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