(VNS) To celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Austria and Viet Nam today, Viet Nam News presents an article from Austrian Ambassador Georg HeindlAustria's decision to estab-lish diplomatic relations with the then Democratic Republic of Viet Nam on December 1, 1972, was greatly appreciated by the Government of the DRV. Already in 1963, the chambers of commerce of Austria and the DRV had concluded a trade agreement, so there was already a bond between the nations.
|Austrian Ambassador Georg Heindl. — Photos courtesy Austrian Embassy
The beginning of Viet Nam's doi moi policy of economic reform and openness created excellent conditions for intensifying our relations.
The trade volume between Austria and Viet Nam grew from 43 million euros (US$56 million) in 1993 to 442 million euros ($572 million) in 2011 – representing a ten-fold increase.
Viet Nam has traditionally enjoyed a large trade surplus with Austria, for which we congratulate you and use as an incentive for us to try even harder to increase our own exports.
Having purchased Vietnamese goods with a volume of 339 million euros ($439 million) in 2011, Austria remains an important export market for the country.
Among the most successful Vietnamese products in Austria are shoes, textiles, furniture and mechanical instruments. Conversely, Austrian exports to Viet Nam include industrial assets, machinery, optical instruments, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals and fertilisers.
|In harmony: Austrian and Vietnamese musicians play together at an Austrian National Day concert in Ha Noi
In the 1990s, Austrian Economist Professor Werner Clement served as advisor to the Vietnamese Government on economic reforms. Accordingly, the rise of Viet Nam's economy was very influential in Austria's 1998 decision to open an Embassy in Ha Noi.
In the last decade, Austrian companies have successfully implemented a large number of projects in Viet Nam which were financed by Official Development Assistance (ODA) soft loans from the Austrian Government, costing a total of 170 million euros ($220 million).
These projects have been based in the fields of health care, transport infrastructure, environmental technology and vocational training.
These are all areas which are vitally important for the social, as well as the economic, development of Viet Nam.
I am convinced that Austria, which is consistently among the five richest countries in the European Union, and also among the countries with the lowest unemployment rate, will have a lot more to offer to Viet Nam in the future.
For example, our country is a world leader with regards to both environmental technology and environmentally friendly products.
More than 1,300 Austrian products have received the European Union's "Ecolabel" award – given to products that meet high standards of environmental performance and quality.
One Austrian company has built the most advanced Vehicle Emission Test Centre in Southeast Asia near Ha Noi, in cooperation with the Vietnamese Ministry of Transport and the Government Agency Viet Nam Register. Inaugurated in 2010, this Centre contributes to controlling the emissions of Viet Nam's millions of vehicles, including its favoured motorbikes.
Another area where Austria, as a mountainous country, is prominent is cable car technology.
The Austrian-built cable car to the Ba Na Hills resort in Central Viet Nam is the longest and highest non-stop cable car in the world.
I have always been impressed by the zeal and ambition with which Viet Nam is developing its education, training and science sector, particularly in terms of internationalisation.
The Government, universities, and Vietnamese society, particularly its academic youth, are all enthusiastic about tapping into global knowledge. This ambition is similar to that of Austrian institutions of higher learning.
Accordingly, the International Management Centre in Krems, Lower Austria, is offering a Masters Programme in Tourism – also one of Austria's strengths – at the University of Hue and a Masters Programme in Business Administration at the University of Commerce in Ha Noi.
The Vietnamese and Austrian peoples are also showing increasing curiosity and enthusiasm towards their respective cultures.
The anniversary year was an excellent occasion to satisfy and further promote this enthusiasm.
In Austria, the Embassy of Viet Nam organised a water puppet show at Vienna's Schunbrunn Palace, and Hue Court dances at the Konzerthaus Music Hall.
As for Austrian events in Viet Nam, I am happy to report that the events I promised to hold in my last interview with the Viet Nam News took place: A joint Austrian-Vietnamese classical concert and a conference on Austrian philosophy. Both with great success! — VNS