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Cooperation between Belgium and Việt Nam to accelerate amid the pandemic

Update: November, 15/2021 - 08:07

To mark the occasion of the Belgian King’s Day in 2021, the Ambassador of Belgium to Việt Nam, Paul Jansen, sends a message to Việt Nam News readers to celebrate.

Every year, on November 15, the Belgians celebrate their Kings and the Royal Family. This year of course, as was also the case in 2020, those celebrations take place in very difficult circumstances, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Belgium, like in Việt Nam, people are struggling to return to normal life and to revive an economy that has suffered terribly. It is only through solidarity between all countries and all people that we will get there. This crisis is also an opportunity for a new start, an opportunity to do things differently and better than before. I am thinking for instance of the green economy or the fight against climate change, which has hit our two countries so hard this year.

The historic Belgian city Ghent at sunset. Photo courtesy of the embassy

To meet these challenges, Belgium is alongside Việt Nam, as recently demonstrated by the online meeting between our two Prime Ministers, HE Mr Phạm Minh Chính and HE Mr Alexander De Croo on August 25, and the very successful official visit to Belgium by the President of the National Assembly of Việt Nam, HE Mr Vương Đình Huệ, together with a very big Vietnamese delegation, on September 9. During those two meetings, the further development of our bilateral economic relations was at the centre of the discussions.

Belgium and Việt Nam signed in October 2018 a strategic partnership in agriculture. Now we want to build on this partnership to develop common research projects with Vietnamese universities, such as the Việt Nam National University of Agriculture or the universities of Cần Thơ and Huế. But we also want to develop together the Vietnamese cocoa production, one of the best flavours in the world, thanks to the commitment of the Belgian chocolate maker Puratos-Grand Place. We will also work together on sustainable rice production, on the fight against climate change, and on the development of Vietnamese fruit and vegetable exports to Europe, through a chain of “smart cold cabins”, which will allow agricultural products to be preserved from the field of the Vietnamese farmer to the greengrocer store in Europe.

To do so, Belgium and Việt Nam must intensify collaboration in terms of logistics and port infrastructure. The company Deep-C, which has been a success story for almost 30 years, will expand its activities in Hải Phòng and the province of Quảng Ninh. And, together with Dutch and Vietnamese partners, the Belgian building companies and port developers Besix and Ipei are developing a very ambitious port development project in Cái Mép Hạ, in the province of Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu.

Belgian companies such as DEME (dredging) also want to put their world-renown expertise into renewable energies at the service of Việt Nam, by developing for instance the huge offshore Vinh Phong wind farm in the province of Bình Thuận.

Pharmaceutical companies established in Belgium, such as Pfizer and GSK have been at the forefront in the fight against so many diseases. Today, 60 per cent of Vietnamese babies and children are vaccinated with vaccines manufactured in Belgium. And companies like Univercells (biotechnology) are in the process of investing in the development of vaccines here in Việt Nam.

Cooperation and solidarity between our two countries therefore still have a bright future ahead. VNS

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