To celebrate Canada Day (July 1), Deborah Paul, Ambassador of Canada to Việt Nam, writes to Việt Nam News
This year, more than ever, Canada Day (our national holiday on July 1) presents an opportunity to show solidarity, understanding and resilience. It invites Canadians to come together to reflect on our history and culture. Most importantly, Canada Day gives us space to hold truthful, reconciling, and inclusive dialogue, strengthen the ties that unite us, and look toward our country’s future with optimism while acknowledging the past.
Spending Canada Day here in Việt Nam naturally leads me to think about the connections between our two countries. Canada has a diverse population and is home to about 250,000 Canadians of Vietnamese origin. They are represented in all walks of life and have contributed to the social and cultural fabric of our country. They are an integral part of the long-standing people-to-people ties that bind Canada and Việt Nam. And our relationship has grown stronger under the Comprehensive Partnership established by our two Prime Ministers in 2017 to advance peace and security, increase economic prosperity, and promote sustainable development and resilience.
Ambassador Deborah Paul meets with the coordinators and beneficiaries of the CFLI project "Promoting non-discrimination and inclusion of LGBT children and youths in Central Region of Vietnam" in Huế, in January 2021. Photo courtesy of the embassy
On the peace and security front, Canada was proud to establish a Canadian Defence Attaché office in Hà Nội in 2020. Along with our Military Training Cooperation Program and regular naval ship visits, the new office is helping to strengthen defence relations between Canada and Việt Nam. Canada was also pleased to support Việt Nam and the United Nations as one of the sponsors of the 'International Conference on Women, Peace and Security: Strengthening Women’s Role in Building and Sustaining Peace'. The conference was a signature initiative of Việt Nam’s term on the United Nations Security Council which helped to maintain momentum on the Women, Peace and Security agenda. As a long-standing ASEAN Dialogue Partner, Canada took the opportunity during the conference to announce CA$8.5 million in funding to advance the Women, Peace and Security agenda in the ASEAN region.
Canada and Việt Nam are also partners in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). We have seen two-way trade in goods increase by more than 35 per cent since the agreement came into force in 2019, enhancing economic prosperity for both countries, and for small and medium-sized enterprises in particular.
This year, we hope to launch negotiations for an ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement. Such an agreement could increase Việt Nam’s GDP by more than US$6 billion dollars over and above the gains made by joining the CPTPP. But we don’t just trade in goods; we also trade in services, such as education. Canada is a popular study destination for Vietnamese students who are attracted by our world-class educational institutions and welcoming culture. Despite pandemic-related travel restrictions, students are still able to travel to Canada to pursue their studies at qualified institutions, and we hope that as the global health situation improves, more Vietnamese will choose to study in Canada.
Working together in times of need. Canadian citizens who had to depart Việt Nam due to the COVID-19 pandemic were able to return home on special Vietnam Airlines flights in May 2020. Photo courtesy of the embassy
Canada and Việt Nam are also working together to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Since 1990, Canada has contributed more than CA$1.7 billion in international assistance to Việt Nam. We are committed to this country’s sustainable development and poverty reduction efforts, especially now as Việt Nam weathers the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic and works to retain its development gains. Canada is assisting Việt Nam and other countries to access COVID-19 vaccines through multilateral mechanisms such as the ACT Accelerator, COVAX facility and the ASEAN COVID-19 response fund.
In support of Việt Nam’s development priorities and objectives, Canada is placing a particular focus on growth that works for everyone. This includes support for small and medium-sized enterprises, co-operatives and impact-oriented businesses. It includes building public sector capacity to design and implement public-private partnerships for sustainable infrastructure. Canada is also supporting Việt Nam on enhancing food safety and broader food system issues. We are working together to increase Việt Nam’s resilience to climate change and environmental challenges by supporting a transition to clean energy and addressing marine plastics litter. Canada also provided humanitarian assistance in response to the natural disaster in central Việt Nam in 2020. And we look at all of these issues through a gender perspective to increase women’s economic empowerment and ensure that we leave no one behind.
When I think about Canada Day here in Việt Nam, these are some of the highlights of our co-operation that come to mind. On this day, I wish all Canadians in Việt Nam and all Vietnamese with connections to Canada a very happy Canada Day! VNS