Tale/innlegg | Dato: 20.03.2014
Ho Chi Minh City
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Ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening everyone.
In February, we entered the year of the horse.
This year is said to be a year of fast victories, unexpected adventure, and an excellent year for travel.
I am particularly happy to be travelling to Vietnam this year.
And I am very glad to be here in Ho Chi Minh City.
Vietnam impresses me:
- It is one of the fastest growing economies in South-East Asia.
The Boston Consulting Group estimates that by 2050, Vietnam will become one of the world’s top-twenty economies.
- Vietnam has a young, educated and productive workforce.
- And foreign investments are steadily flowing into the country.
The last two decades, Vietnam has shown us that rapid economic development can go hand-in-hand with poverty reduction.
According to UNDP, the average income of a person living in Vietnam almost doubled between 2001 and 2011.
Vietnam and Norway have gone from traditional development cooperation – to trade and technical collaboration.
Our ties are stronger than ever;
- Bilateral trade has increased by over 600 percent the last 10 years. And we believe it has potential to grow even more.
- More and more Norwegian companies are present in Vietnam – and we also see a fair amount of Norwegian investments.
- And after completing another round of trade-talks this February, the Vietnam-EFTA negotiation process has now moved even closer towards a Free Trade Agreement.
As a small, but open and export-oriented economy, Norway knows how important it is to facilitate trade and investments.
This is why the Norwegian Government puts a lot of weight on negotiating a modern and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.
Through the agreement, we are working to achieve benefits for all of our businesses – for all partners:
- With better and more predictable frameworks
- and increased access to markets
I strongly believe that a Free Trade Agreement will be very useful for Norwegian companies such as yourselves, that are investing or trading here in Vietnam.
Norwegian and Vietnamese businesses are already working close together in a number of sectors – and Norwegian companies are at the very center of Norway’s bilateral relationship with Vietnam.
We have many examples – take the maritime industry.
- Companies like Vard are building state-of-the-art offshore supply vessels, employing nearly 700 people at the shipyard not far from here – in Vung Tau.
- Norwegian suppliers are broadly represented in Vietnam.
Rolls-Royce Marine, Brødrene Dahl and Goltens have their own facilities in Vung Tau. Steinsvik has recently opened a factory nearby Karmsund Maritime in Nha Trang.
TTS has its office in Hai Phong.
Today, I also had the pleasure of opening the new Vinomarine production facilities in Hai Phong.
The number of maritime companies visiting Vietnam this week is also impressive.
And it only reflects the opportunities Norwegian companies find here in Vietnam.
I believe that by building local clusters – like we see in the maritime industry – companies learn from each other and make each other stronger.
Norway also makes its mark on Vietnam’s aquaculture industry:
- Norwegian companies like EWOS, AKVA Group ASA and Pharmaq have all found opportunities here.
- In fact, Pharmaq has made available the first ever fish vaccine in Vietnam.
This is a milestone in our bilateral trade relations, successfully combining research, technology and business.
- I look forward to visiting the facilities of EWOS tomorrow, and to get a demonstration from Pharmaq of an actual fish vaccination.
We also see cooperation and investment in large scale operations in paint, aluminium and textiles:
- I am pleased to learn that established Norwegian companies like Jotun and Yara are experiencing growth in their operations in Vietnam.
[ are growing in Vietnam ]
- Orkla’s investment in Sapa Ben Thanh Aluminum Profiles – situated outside Ho Chi Minh City – is also worth mentioning.
- Not to forget the import of textiles from Vietnam, many of you gathered here this evening are involved in this important area of trade.
And with Vietnam’s growing energy needs – renewable energy, such as hydropower, is likely to be another key area for collaboration in the years ahead.
All of these examples show that Vietnam has proven itself as an increasingly attractive place for investments and activities for Norwegian companies.
Norwegian companies cannot compete on price alone.
You compete on quality.
And what defines you is specialization and innovation.
This has also made you able to seize the opportunities that have presented themselves here in Vietnam.
We know that it can sometimes be challenging to conduct business in emerging economies.
You need to handle other risks than you do at home.
Let it be clear that the Government expects no less of Norwegian companies operating abroad than we expect of them at home in Norway.
Lastly, I would like to thank Innovation Norway for hosting this Get together.
I know that the Vietnamese take pride in their cuisine. [culinary art]
So far, I have not been disappointed.
I hope you will all enjoy both the cuisine and the company this evening.
Thank you for your attention.