To mark the occasion of Denmark’s Constitution Day, June 5, Ambassador Kim Højlund Christensen reflects upon the development of the Danish - Vietnamese relationship during the past 50 years.
Denmark was among the very first Western countries to establish diplomatic relations with Việt Nam. It happened as early as 50 years ago - in 1971. Soon after that, Denmark began providing humanitarian assistance and preferential loans to Việt Nam to support its post-war reconstruction. Danish development aid to Việt Nam particularly accelerated from 1993 when Việt Nam was selected as a priority country for Danish development cooperation. By 2015, Denmark had disbursed some $1.3 billion in Official Development Assistance, making it one of the largest bilateral donors in Việt Nam.
We are very pleased and honoured to have contributed to Việt Nam’s remarkable achievements during its transformation from a poor country with 58 per cent of the population living in poverty in 1993 to a lower middle-income country on the rise. Even though COVID-19 has had a significant negative impact on the economy – also here in Việt Nam, I am sure the impressive economic growth rates Việt Nam experienced before the pandemic will return in the not too distant future.
Danish Ambassador Kim Højlund Christensen in a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh in May 2019. Photos courtesy of the embassy
In 2013, Denmark was the first Nordic country to sign a Comprehensive Partnership Agreement with Việt Nam. This was an important milestone as it elevated our bilateral relationship from traditional development cooperation to a full-fledged partnership encompassing political dialogue, trade and investment, green growth, energy, food safety, education and health.
Another matter that ties our countries together is the Royal connection. The late husband of the Danish Queen, Prince Consort Henrik, was born in Hà Nội where he spent his first years. Later he returned to finish high school in Hà Nội. The Prince Consort has since visited Việt Nam several times.
In 2009, the Royal Family made their first State Visit to Việt Nam. On this occasion, the Queen and the Prince Consort were accompanied by the Crown Prince Couple. This gave them all a unique opportunity to obtain a deeper understanding of their family history and the historic ties to Việt Nam. They all profoundly appreciated Việt Nam’s beautiful landscapes and friendly people. In 2011, the Crown Prince visited Việt Nam again to mark the celebration of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Việt Nam.
Well-matched partners for the future
Looking back at the past 50 years of diplomatic relations and cooperation, we have achieved a great deal together. Yet there is still a huge potential for broadening and strengthening our partnership and collaboration even further in the future. This is not least due to the fact that Denmark already for many years has been dealing with some of the challenges that Việt Nam is currently facing. Among these could be mentioned pollution and the effects of climate change. Danish companies possess world-leading expertise in renewable energy, energy efficiency, water & waste handling, food production, health and education, which are all important areas for a sustainable development in Việt Nam. Therefore, we can offer state–of–the-art solutions to make Việt Nam's development more green and sustainable.
We see that a growing number of Danish companies have chosen Việt Nam as their production base. In addition to capital investment, expertise, technology, and job creation they also bring in the Danish efficient way of doing business.
With the increasing engagement of Danish companies and through the ongoing cooperation between relevant Danish and Vietnamese authorities on energy, food safety, health and education, we can now focus more on matching modern Danish technology and know-how with Việt Nam’s goal of becoming a higher middle-income country by 2035, thereby continuing our contribution to Việt Nam’s long-term development path. It is our hope and wish that we can use our 50th anniversary this year as an occasion to further strengthen our cooperation on green growth.
Offshore windpower in the chanel: Øresund in Copenhagen (Denmark).
New possibilities with the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement
The outlook for bilateral trade and investment is bright with the EU Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which came into force in August last year. The EVFTA is expected to increase trade and cooperation between Việt Nam and the European Union significantly over the coming years. In seven years from now, there will not be any tariffs on 99 per cent of the products sold from Việt Nam to the European Union, and in 10 years, there will not be any tariffs on 99 per cent of the products sold from the European Union to Việt Nam. Already we have seen a substantial reduction in tariffs. The increased tariff free trade will indeed benefit cooperation between Vietnamese and Danish businesses.
We do undeniably have a solid platform to stand on when it comes to further developing the Danish-Vietnamese relations. We are very pleased with all the results achieved during the first 50 years of diplomatic relations, and we are certainly looking forward to the next 50 years of fruitful cooperation with Việt Nam! VNS