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The Netherlands and Việt Nam celebrate unity in diversity: ambassador

Update: April, 27/2022 - 16:33

To celebrate the Dutch national day, the birthday of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Ambassador Elsbeth Akkerman writes to Việt Nam News.

April 27 marks the joyous celebration of King’s Day.

King’s Day is the national day of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on which we celebrate our unity in diversity, our independence and our fundamental freedoms. 

Fundamental freedoms that we should not take for granted, as is illustrated by the many conflicts and wars in the world, among which now is in Ukraine in Europe, causing terror, suffering and the needless loss of human lives.

2022 marks the worldwide reopening after the COVID pandemic. The past two years have been difficult for people worldwide, but they have also demonstrated that when we stand together, we can achieve a lot, like developing, producing and distributing much-needed vaccines at record speed. The Netherlands was very pleased to support Việt Nam with vaccines - via COVAX - and medical equipment. A friend in need is a friend indeed.

The Royal family. — Photo Patrick van Katwijk

It is more than appropriate that 2022 is the Year of the Tiger since the tiger symbolises strength and braveness, something that the people of Việt Nam have demonstrated during the pandemic.

This Year of the Tiger also provides an excellent opportunity to highlight the need to protect Việt Nam’s unique wildlife and ensure that the Vietnamese tiger population can grow back to healthy levels. The Netherlands will therefore continue to work with the Vietnamese authorities and wildlife protection organisations to stop the illegal trade and consumption of wild animals, including tigers.

As some Vietnamese people might know, the lion is one of the symbols of the Netherlands. You will find it in our weapon shield and on the shirt of our ‘Orange’ football team later this year at the World Cup. Both felines, the Dutch lion and the Vietnamese tiger are an illustration of the unity in the diversity of Việt Nam and the Netherlands as well.

The Netherlands and Việt Nam share a long history with each other. Next year we will celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations. But we also share part of our geography: we are both delta countries and have similar challenges related to climate change and water management. It is for this reason that our strategic partnership in the field of water management and climate adaptation is at the heart of the relationship between our countries. 

Most of our work in this field particularly focuses on the Mekong Delta, where we also work closely together with Việt Nam in the field of agriculture. The Netherlands has a 50 million Euro project portfolio in the Mekong Delta, supporting the sustainable economic development of the delta.

Apart from water and agriculture, we focus on strengthening the logistics system to facilitate tasty Vietnamese agricultural produce export to European markets. Thanks to the EU-Vietnam free trade agreement, these exports are growing strongly, and its potential allows for more!

Việt Nam is experiencing rapid economic growth, which is expected to rebound strongly in the coming years. This economic growth also comes at a cost regarding CO2 emissions and environmental degradation. That is why Việt Nam’s commitment to becoming climate neutral in 2050 and the decision to embark on a green transformation process of the economy is not only bold but also very timely.

As a partner of Việt Nam, the Netherlands applauds Việt Nam’s ambitions. It is fully committed to supporting Việt Nam in realising these ambitions together with the business community via sustainable trade and responsible investment. 

A hi-tech demo farm of a Dutch company in Vinh Long. — Photo Hồng Vân

As you might be aware, the Netherlands is the second-largest trading partner of Việt Nam in Europe and the number one European investor. For the past years, many Dutch businesses in Việt Nam have been ranking in the top charts for sustainable business practices. I am convinced that with the right regulatory environment and incentives, the transformative power of the Dutch and international business sector can be unleashed and will be a major game-changer in achieving Việt Nam’s ambitious commitments.

We have very interesting and exciting years ahead in our bilateral cooperation and the worldwide transformation towards the green, sustainable and inclusive global society that we are all part of. 

Our relations are strong, grounded in the deep and long-lasting friendship between our people, governments, and businesses. Let’s continue to join our hearts, heads and hands and make sure that Việt Nam, a tiger cub economy, can ‘roar’ even stronger in the future. VNS

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