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Canada, VN relations stronger than ever

Update: June, 29/2012 - 10:07

 

In the field: Governor General of Canada David Johnston during his visit to a CIDA funded project in Soc Trang Province in November 2011. — VNS Photos MCpl Dany Veillette, Rideau Hall

 

Day of celebration: Parliament Hill in Ottawa during a Canada Day celebration.

On the occasion of Canada's National Day on Sunday, Viet Nam News presents an article written by Canadian Ambassador to Viet Nam Deborah Chatsis.On July 1st, 2012, Canadians across the country and abroad will take part in Canada Day celebrations. On this occasion, we celebrate Canadian heroes and events that helped shape the Canada we know today – an independent and free country with a rich and diverse cultural heritage.

As we celebrate Canada Day this year, we are also preparing for the 40th anniversary of Canada and Viet Nam's bilateral relationships that will take place in 2013. This is a moment to think about our achievements, our pride and our possibilities.

Canada-Viet Nam relations have reached new heights in the past year. The most significant event was the first state visit to Viet Nam of the Governor General of Canada, who travelled to Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City and several provinces in the Mekong Delta in November 2011. During his visit, the Governor General highlighted the important education linkages between Canada and Viet Nam, as well as bilateral trade and investment. The visit offered an opportunity for our governments and civil society to share views on multiculturalism and Canadian values. His Excellency was also able to recognise the important innovations that Canadian development assistance has supported in the areas of skills training and agriculture in Ha Noi and the Mekong Delta.

One element of our bilateral relationship that became very obvious during the visit was the importance of people-to-people links between Canada and Viet Nam. There is an active 250,000-strong Vietnamese-Canadian community in Canada. Several trade, cultural and charity delegations to Viet Nam have been organised with Vietnamese-Canadian involvement in the past few years, and many Vietnamese-Canadians have returned to Viet Nam to seek out opportunities or to visit this country.

While people-to-people links are expanding, the same is true for the two-way trade between Canada and Viet Nam, which nearly reached Ca $1.7 billion in 2011. Agricultural exports have increased dramatically from $69 million in 2010 to $126 million in 2011, and Canada has gained access to the Vietnamese market for Canadian live animals (cattle, goat and sheep). The embassy has organised a Canadian Food Festival in several restaurants in Ha Noi during the month of July to highlight the best of Canadian seafood, beef and wine (see www.vietnam.gc.ca for more information). In addition, Toronto-based Sun Life Financial Inc and PetroVietnam Insurance (PVI) recently signed an agreement to set up a joint venture establish a life insurance company called PVI Sun Life, the second Canadian life insurance provider in Viet Nam after Manulife.

We are very proud of the quality of Canadian education, and see several opportunities for collaboration with Viet Nam in this field. In 2011, close to 1,000 Vietnamese students went to Canada for further study. This October, the 4th Annual Canada Education Week will be held in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, and Ha Noi, with the participation of about 70 Canadian institutions and thousands of Vietnamese students, parents and education agents. Here in Viet Nam, there is also a growing interest in joint-programmes between Vietnamese institutions and their Canadian partners. The new Executive MBA programme offered by the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) and the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh Minh City will start this September. The Faculty of Dentistry of the University of British Columbia has plans to open an Oral Health Research Centre at the National Hospital of Odonto-Stomatology this December. These are only some examples of the initiatives that Vietnamese and Canadians have developed together.

Canada has made a significant contribution to helping Viet Nam reach its targets in basic education and is now focussing on promoting partnerships between Canadian and Vietnamese higher education institutions, including community colleges, which will focus on skills training. Canada supported the creation of Tra Vinh Community College, now Tra Vinh University, a model for demand-driven skills training in Viet Nam. Also, this summer Canada will send four Vietnamese students to francophone Canadian universities for post-graduate studies as part of the Canadian Francophonie Scholarship Programme, which has sent over 100 Vietnamese students to Canada since 1991.

I am extremely pleased to be given the opportunity to highlight some of the major activities and achievements of the past year that demonstrate the breadth and depth of our bilateral relationship with Viet Nam. As Canada and Viet Nam plan for activities to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the bilateral relationship next year, we have reasons to believe this relationship will continue to grow in the years to come.

On behalf of the Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, Audri Mukhopadhyay, and the staff of the Embassy and Consulate General, I wish you all a Happy Canada Day! — VNS

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