UK Prime Minister David Cameron granted an interview to Viet NamPlus, the online newspaper run by the Viet Nam News Agency, ahead of his visit to Viet Nam today and tomorrow.
In January 2013, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Viet Nam Nguyen Phu Trong paid a visit to the UK at your invitation. The visit helped strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries. What will be your plan to improve relations on this visit?
|UK Prime Minister David Cameron. — VNA/VNS Photo
I'm delighted to be the first British Prime Minister to visit Viet Nam. I think there is a great opportunity here to deepen and expand the relationship between our two countries and that's what my visit is all about.
The UK and Viet Nam already have a strong trading relationship with UK exports to Viet Nam up by 12 per cent last year, but I think there is still huge untapped potential. That's why I've brought a planeload of business men and women with me so they can see for themselves the opportunities in this exciting emerging market with a young, tech-savvy population and the fastest growing middle class in Southeast Asia. I believe British businesses have much to offer.
We should build on the Strategic Partnership signed between our two countries in 2010, which committed to working more closely on trade and investment, development, education and training, science and technology, and security and defence.
The UK has many a time confirmed the need to ensure security, safety and free navigation in the East Sea, as well as to settle all disputes in the region in a peaceful manner with respect for international laws. What will the UK do to push for the finalisation of the COC between ASEAN and China? What is the UK's view on China's land reclamation in the East Sea?
We are concerned about the tensions in the South China Sea (which Viet Nam calls the East Sea) and its potential effects on regional peace, security and global prosperity. While we take no position on underlying sovereignty claims, we are clear that provocative behaviour challenges regional stability and continue to call on all parties to settle maritime and other disputes in accordance with international law and the UN Convention.
We underlined this commitment at the G7 Summit in Germany last month when, with our partners there, we made clear that we want to maintain a rules-based order in the maritime domain based on the principles of international law, in particular as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and we emphasised the importance of peaceful dispute settlement, as well as free and unimpeded lawful use of the world's oceans.
The UK and Viet Nam are promoting their defence and security relations. In addition to co-operation in the fight against serious crimes, including internationally organised crimes and illegal immigration, what are the other areas of co-operation in terms of security and defence?
Both our nations already co-operate on defence and maritime issues, and we work together to tackle crimes such as modern slavery, child sexual exploitation, cyber crimes and financial offences.
I was pleased that Viet Nam attended the WeProtect Summit in London last December and the UK does significant work within Viet Nam to help reintegrate victims of human trafficking, as well as raising awareness of the risks of this abhorrent trade. And I'm keen to step up co-operation in this area in the months ahead.
In the area of defence, we already provide professional and specialist training for officers from the Viet Nam Ministry of National Defence. I hope that, as a result of this visit, we'll deepen our co-operation and the Vietnamese government's appointment of a Defence Attache in London will provide further opportunities to do so.
Trade was a core area of discussion during the visit to the UK in 2013 by Party Leader Nguyen Phu Trong. What has the UK done to promote the signing of the Viet Nam-EU Free Trade Agreement and an early recognition of the market regulations for Viet Nam? The two-way trade turnover is under US$4 billion. Does this figure reflect the two countries' potential?
I think there is great potential to increase trade between our countries for the benefit of British businesses and Vietnamese businesses, too. It will be a top priority of my visit and that's why I'm going to HCM City as well as Ha Noi, and it's why I've got a planeload of business men and women with me. As Viet Nam continues to develop and expand its infrastructure, I think our world-class engineering and energy companies have a lot to offer. And there is also a great opportunity for the UK and Viet Nam to work together on education, science and innovation.
The UK is one of the strongest supporters of free trade in the EU and we have put our weight fully behind an EU-Viet Nam free trade agreement. I'm delighted that negotiations appear to be moving closer to a conclusion, and I hope that paves the way to get the deal signed, sealed and delivered so that it can start benefiting businesses both in Europe and Viet Nam.
In your opinion, what should the Vietnamese Government and its businesses do to overcome commercial barriers and increase exports to the UK and other EU countries?
This visit will provide me with an opportunity to hear from British and Vietnamese businesses about how they can improve trade links. This kind of open dialogue between government and business is vital for creating a competitive economic environment. It's right that we are responsive to the needs of business and try to remove unnecessary barriers because that's how we open up new opportunities that can spur growth and create jobs.
In negotiating both the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement and the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Vietnamese Government is showing real willingness and I continue to encourage them to open up markets and encourage greater transparency. — VNS