Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Miland and about 100 representatives of Norwegian companies are seeking cooperation with Vietnamese firms during a visit to Viet Nam between March 18 and 21. The visit comes even as negotiations are underway between Viet Nam and the European Union on a free trade agreement.
Miland talks to reporters about the opportunities for bilateral cooperation on the sidelines of her meetings with State and Government leaders in Ha Noi on Thursday.
Can you say something about your meetings with Viet Nam’s leaders and officials?
We have had very good meetings over the cooperation between Viet Nam and Norway, as well as the ongoing negotiations for a free trade agreement between Viet Nam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
What are your expectations?
My ambition is to strengthen the bilateral economic relationship and partnership. About 100 representatives of Norwegian companies are travelling with us and they are going to open factories and offices in Viet Nam. There are several opportunities.
What are the potential areas for cooperation between the two nations?
The four areas having the maximum potential are the marine sector, energy, and oil and gas. With regard to the first, Norway is the world’s second largest exporter of seafood and we should sell more fish to Viet Nam. We also have great knowledge about aquaculture, which Viet Nam wants to develop. As to the second, Viet Nam has important shipbuilders who are providing products for Norwegian ship owners, and there is significant potential to promote this. Thirdly, Viet Nam needs energy and Norway has worked with renewable energies for several years. Regarding the fourth area, Norway has been working with the oil and gas sector for 40 years. There are a lot of possibilities.
How do you assess the prospects of the agreement?
We have had seven rounds of negotiations. We expect to have the eighth round shortly and to conclude the agreement this year. There are some sensitive issues that we still disagree on, but with good meetings and talks, we are hopeful.
The agreement between Viet Nam and the EFTA countries — Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland — is important as it will give industries and companies a predictable framework and reduced taxes so that it’s easier for them to cooperate.
Many Norwegian companies are doing business in Southeast Asia, particularly in Malaysia and Singapore, and they also want to do business in Viet Nam. SN Power expressed an intention to invest in energy in Viet Nam, and I talked to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang about that yesterday. It’s important to have more business delegation visits like this for both nations.
Is there any mention at high-level discussions of investments by Vietnamese businesses in Norway?
I’ve no idea. But it will be important for the maritime industries in both countries if Vietnamese shipbuilders can do more for Norwegian ship owners.