Accelerating trade with innovation and green tech

January 23, 2023 | 00:18
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Vietnam and the Netherlands will celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations in 2023. Kees van Baar, Dutch Ambassador to Vietnam, writes about the prospects in the cooperation between both nations, especially in terms of trade and investment, and both nations’ cooperation in green economy development.
Accelerating trade with innovation and green tech
Kees van Baar, Dutch Ambassador to Vietnam

Every time spring comes, people in Vietnam organise a plough ritual to pray for a year of favourable weather and bumper crop seasons. Agriculture plays a pivotal role in the economies of Vietnam and the Netherlands and is deeply imprinted in the culture and people of the two countries.

Sharing natural commonalities, we have beefed up our sustainable development partnership in sustainable agriculture, water management, and climate change adaptation.

The close cooperation among governments, research institutes and especially businesses result in new visions, such as the Mekong Delta Regional Master Plan, regulatory frameworks as well as the blooming of business cooperation, with a growing number of Dutch companies doing business and investing in Vietnam. But even more significant: Vietnamese companies setting up businesses in the Netherlands as well.

Both Vietnam and the Netherlands are delta countries and therefore vulnerable to rising sea levels resulting from climate change. The Netherlands and Vietnam also share the same ambition to become climate neutral in 2050 by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, the EU is developing and implementing new rules and regulations to support its climate ambitions, like the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism and Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive.

Green technologies

These new mechanisms will become effective in the coming years and will modernise and strengthen the rules for imports to the EU markets regarding environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. For companies exporting from Vietnam to the EU or being in the supply chain of an EU company, this means that there will be strong incentives to invest in ESG reporting in order to enjoy low tariffs and easy access to EU markets.

Therefore, the Netherlands invests in ESG capacity building for Vietnamese companies. In the framework of the GEFE 2022 event in Ho Chi Minh City, the embassy offered workshops and will continue to do so in the context of the ‘Ready to Export’ programme, which is being implemented by the Dutch Business Association in Vietnam together with Vietrade.

The Netherlands is a small country in terms of area, but it is the 15th largest economy in the world. And we have a rich history in entrepreneurial innovation with world-famous inventions, ranging from the microscopes and telescopes to CDs and DVDs, as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Probably not many people in Vietnam know that these are all Dutch inventions.

Nowadays, you can find a wealth of interesting Dutch companies that focus on innovations in sustainability, clean energy, circular solutions, and digital transformation.

High-tech cooperation

During his visit to the Netherlands last December, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh visited the world-leading production and knowledge economy of the province of North Brabant and the Brainport region in and around the city of Eindhoven. Brainport is one of three main pillars of the Dutch economy, along with Amsterdam for its airport and Rotterdam for its seaport, and is crucial to the country’s international competitiveness.

Eindhoven is the most inventive city in the world in terms of patent density: according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 22.6 patents are registered per 10,000 inhabitants each year, far more than second-place San Diego.

In response to PM Chinh’s wish to strengthen the bilateral cooperation in innovation and creativity, the Netherlands is ready to share with Vietnam the knowledge and experience of our transition from a traditional agricultural and manufacturing industry into a world-leading high-tech hotspot.

Close collaboration between government, business and science are part of the Dutch DNA and of our open innovation culture. It has become an integral part in our achievements as of today – and this is also true in international cooperation.

As a concrete next step, we plan to organise in 2023 a mission of Dutch businesses, knowledge institutes and other stakeholders from the Dutch innovation ecosystem to Vietnam, in order to exchange ideas and discuss cooperation possibilities.

Dutch businesses with cutting-edge expertise and know-how would like to explore collaboration with Vietnamese partners in, for example, joint manufacturing, research and development, technology licensing or training.

Vietnam has become a go-to destination for global tech companies thanks to its strong international economic integration and its strategic geographical position, but most of all thanks to its great talent pool. It is the right time to further stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship and to move up in the global value chains by shifting the country towards a higher-tech economy.

In order to do so, it is crucial that the investment and innovation climate supports and facilitates the business community. We are pleased to share the experience of the Dutch innovation and high-tech ecosystems with Vietnam to support this development.

Financing sustainable development

As Dutch diplomatic network in Vietnam we are committed to contribute to the further growth of our relations by connecting networks of stakeholders involving government and business representatives, universities and knowledge institutions. But also citizens, students, artists, and civil society organisations. By connecting these networks, we support, facilitate, and accelerate the sustainable development of our countries, economies and societies.

I am proud that the Netherlands is the largest European foreign investor in Vietnam. Dutch businesses, with their investments and their innovative and sustainable operations, actively contribute to Vietnam’s progress. As part of the Netherlands government, we also have substantial funding available to support our cooperation agenda.

Particularly in the field of climate adaptation, climate mitigation we have large grants and soft loans ready to be deployed to support the green transformation of Vietnam’s economy. We look forward to work with Vietnamese government and business stakeholders to co-create impactful projects.

I am proud that as an ambassador, I have the opportunity to contribute to further growth and I am eager to make a difference.

Alexander Koch, Chairman Dutch Business Association in Vietnam

Accelerating trade with innovation and green tech

In the past year, we have seen a significant growth in our economic relations: The trade between the Netherlands and Vietnam grew substantially, also thanks to the EU–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, making the Netherlands the second European trade partner of Vietnam. We also maintained our position as the largest European investor in Vietnam.

Our association continues to grow and to welcome new members. After two very successful high-level visits with business delegations in the past year, I am confident that we will be able to keep the momentum and to further grow our business relations in this auspicious year in which we celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations and 400+ years of people-to-people and business to business contacts.

Netherlands and Vietnam boost trade and investment relationship Netherlands and Vietnam boost trade and investment relationship

During a visit from April 25 to 26, Hanneke Schuiling, Vice Minister for Foreign Economic Relations for the Netherlands expressed her wishes for the approval of the $1 billion Cai Mep Ha logistics centre and deep-sea port.

Netherlands and UNDP quicken Vietnam’s circular economy transition Netherlands and UNDP quicken Vietnam’s circular economy transition

The Netherlands and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) cooperate to accelerate the circular economy transition in Vietnam.

Dutch firms plan to invest in shipbuilding and logistics projects Dutch firms plan to invest in shipbuilding and logistics projects

Many Dutch groups have the intention to invest in shipbuilding and logistics projects in Vietnam to help the Southeast Asian country become a logistics centre and international freight forwarding hub.

By Kees van Baar

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