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Danish firms eye Viet Nam expansion

Update: June, 04/2011 - 11:01

Viet Nam News spoke with Denmark's Ambassador to Viet Nam John Nielsen on the occasion of his country's National Day tomorrow, June 5.

 

How do people celebrate Constitution Day in Denmark?

Constitution Day is the celebration of the first Danish Constitution, which dates back to 1849. The third and present Constitution was approved on the same date in 1953. Constitution Day is celebrated all over the country through speeches by the leaders of all the main political parties. The Constitution is the basis for the democratic development of Denmark, including the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and the judiciary and the development of a strong civil society. It is also the basis for a highly decentralised country, where the major bulk of public resources are managed in the municipalities and regions by mayors directly elected by the citizens.

How do you plan to strengthen relations between Denmark and Viet Nam during your term as ambassador?

Denmark at a glance

Area: 43,098sq.km

Population: 5.564.219 (2011)

Language: Danish

Capital: Copenhagen

Currency: Danish Krone

National Flag: Uneven white cross on red background

Area: 43,098sq.km

Population: 5.564.219 (2011)

Language: Danish

Capital: Copenhagen

Currency: Danish Krone

National Flag: Uneven white cross on red background

My ambition is to ensure that we deepen the co-operation between our two countries and move to a more comprehensive partnership based on increased political dialogue and strengthened commercial links. This includes development of co-operation within green growth, such as clean energy production and efficiency, climate change, culture and research.

Denmark is one of the leading countries in solutions for climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency, which are areas in which Viet Nam has expressed interest in increasing co-operation. Viet Nam needs to work towards focusing more on sustainability and green growth as part of its development model. This is crucial as renewable energy, and in general a green growth focus, has the potential to deliver millions of new jobs, introduce and transfer high value-adding technology to Viet Nam, and diversify economic development. Since 1980 the Danish economy has grown by 78 per cent while energy consumption has remained stable and CO2 emissions have dropped.

I believe that the technological strongholds and knowhow of Danish companies within this area can provide an excellent contribution to the sustainability of economic growth in Viet Nam.

The Danish Government has encouraged Danish enterprises to invest in Viet Nam. In what areas do you think Viet Nam and Denmark should co-operate to boost trade and investment?

The trade between our countries is picking up after the financial crisis. More than 120 Danish companies are operating in Viet Nam. We expect bilateral trade and investment to increase as Viet Nam is seen as a potential market for expansion by many Danish companies, not only as an outsourcing destination but also due to internal demands and expansion of the local consumer market.

Despite being a small country of 5.3 million people, Denmark has several very large companies such as AP Moller-Maersk, which is a world-leading shipping and transport company; Carlsberg, one of the four leading beverage producers in the world; Lego, one of the world's most important toy producers. They are all present in Viet Nam today. We also have a lot of world-class expertise within the area of clean technology and green growth.

Danish companies have invested in a great number of sectors over the last decade, mostly within furniture, IT and garment and textiles.

The Port of Copenhagen is the largest Danish seaport and one of the largest ports in the Baltic Sea basin. — VNS File Photo

The Port of Copenhagen is the largest Danish seaport and one of the largest ports in the Baltic Sea basin. — VNS File Photo

As part of the celebration of the 40 years' anniversary of diplomatic relations with Viet Nam, we expect a visit to Viet Nam by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik leading a major Danish business delegation. The business delegation will focus on further strengthening the interests of Danish enterprises in food safety, water technologies, cleantech and energy efficiency, education, shipping and transport, design and lifestyle, and oil and gas industries. I believe that many Danish companies can provide knowledge, skills, high technology, consultancy and support for the Vietnamese business sector within these sectors and contribute to more sustainable and competitive growth in Viet Nam.

We would also like to see companies focusing even more on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Worldwide, CSR is increasingly considered a comparative advantage for many companies, especially in retaining workers. Many Danish companies believe that if working environments for employees are improved and workers rights are being considered, the likelihood of increased productivity and performance is high. Therefore, improving the working conditions for employees, promoting gender equality and creating a friendlier environment is an asset in competitive markets such as Viet Nam.

 

Denmark is one of the biggest donors providing development aid to Viet Nam. As Viet Nam has entered the category of a middle-income country, what is your plan of overseas development assistance in the country in the coming years?

This year is special since it marks the 40th anniversary of Danish-Vietnamese diplomatic relations. In 1971 Denmark was among the first countries in the West to recognise the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam before the war ended, and we very quickly started up activities to contribute to Viet Nam's social and economic development. Since 1994, when Viet Nam was selected as a priority country for Danish ODA, Denmark has provided Viet Nam with more than US$1.1 billion in the form of grants for development assistance activities.

This year alone we will disburse approximately $65 million in the form of grants within agriculture, fisheries, climate change, water and sanitation, private sector development, culture and judiciary and administrative reforms. Our ODA disbursement will continue until 2015.

Climate change is a focus area in our development assistance to Viet Nam. As Viet Nam is likely to be among the five most affected countries in the world from climate change impacts, Denmark attaches high priority to stand side-by-side with Viet Nam in addressing the challenges to chart a new course on energy, reduce emissions and adapt solid measures on adaptation. Over the coming years we will be supporting Viet Nam with a $40 million grant for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.

 

This year also marks the start of the new cultural programme between Viet Nam and Denmark. What areas will it focus on?

Promoting culture is one of our main priorities. Cultural exchange between our two countries has been strengthened with frequent exhibitions, concerts and joint performances organised with the participation of both Vietnamese and Danish artists.

We have just moved into the second phase of our cultural support programme which will run until 2015. Through the programme we will support dialogues in cultural policy development, contemporary arts, children's literature and arts education in primary schools. The overall objective of the programme is to support cultural development in Viet Nam with the emphasis on creativity, people's access and participation in arts and the promotion of cultural diversity.

The key element of the programme is the Cultural Development and Exchange Fund, where Vietnamese artists can apply for support to new, innovate and modern contemporary art projects. The fund also provides support for exchange activities between Vietnamese and Danish artists. In general, the cultural activities and exchange programmes between our two countries are growing stronger every day within the areas – among others – of music, dance, painting and children's literature. — VNS

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