On the occasion of the Belgian King’s Day, Ambassador of Belgium to Việt Nam Paul Jansen sends a message to Việt Nam News readers to celebrate.
Since 1866, Belgians have been celebrating their kings every November 15. As in all constitutional monarchies, the King of the Belgians reigns but does not govern. This is the job of the Government, currently led by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. But the King is more than just a symbol. He truly embodies Belgium, in all its complexities.
During this difficult period that my country, one of the most affected by the COVID-19 crisis in Europe, is going through, the King is even more important because he also embodies the fight against the pandemic and all the efforts being made to escape this health and economic crisis as soon as possible.
The Belgian royal family. — Photo Bas Bogaerts of Royal Palace, Belgium
Thanks to the very effective measures taken by the Vietnamese authorities, this country has been spared the most serious consequence of the pandemic, while showing its solidarity with countries more severely affected like Belgium. And here I would like to thank all Vietnamese institutions and people for the many expressions of sympathy and solidarity I have received.
I would particularly like to highlight the initiative taken by a retired Vietnamese professor of medicine who worked for 30 years at a Belgian hospital. He visited our embassy under his own accord to donate masks for his former colleagues in Belgium, who were and are still leading this difficult fight against the pandemic, and risking their lives every day in the service of others.
But, together with Việt Nam, we are also preparing for the post-crisis period. It is only through international solidarity and co-operation that we will overcome this global economic crisis resulting from the pandemic. To do this we are placing high hopes in the EVFTA, which entered into force on August 1.
I am convinced that thanks to this historic agreement, bilateral trade and investments between Belgium and Việt Nam will experience a spectacular acceleration. The first signs of this new dynamism in Vietnamese exports to Belgium, in particular of seafood products, are already noticeable. But the EVFTA works in both directions, also from from Europe to Việt Nam. I really hope that the embargo on pharmaceutical products manufactured in Belgium, among other countries, will soon be lifted. This is in the interests of the Vietnamese health sector and the health of the Vietnamese people.
Ambassador Paul Jansen plays with children at Trà Mai Kindergarten in Nam Trà My District, Quảng Nam Province on June 10, 2020. — Courtesy Photo of the embassy
Many new Belgian investments projects are already in the implementation phase. A few days ago I visited two of these new investments by Belgian companies Solvay and Indowoods (US$10million) in Đồng Nai and Bình Dương. I also know that many other initiatives are about to materialise in the coming months. In Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu and Quảng Ninh, “Deep-C”, the most important Belgian investment in Việt Nam, is looking at expanding the operations of their green industrial park, and in Quảng Ngãi progress is being made in the steel wire sector.
Agriculture is another very promising area of co-operation between Belgium and Việt Nam. In October 2018, during a visit to Brussels by Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, our two countries signed a strategic partnership agreement in the field of agriculture. Since then many projects have already started.
Several pilot projects will soon be inaugurated, including desalination of inland waters in the Mekong Delta area, cold chain preservation for Vietnamese fruit for export to Europe, and forecasting flooding, to name just a few.
As most people know, Belgium is a world leader in chocolate production, and this is definitely another area of co-operation with Việt Nam. This country produces very high quality cocoa beans, and Belgian companies are looking at promising joint ventures to produce more chocolate here. In a few days, the embassy, together with MARD and Puratos-Grand Place, will organise a cocoa roundtable in order to stimulate production in Việt Nam.
Still in the agricultural sector but more specifically in the academic field, Belgian universities and research institutes have developed strong co-operation with the Việt Nam National University of Agriculture, the University of Huế, and the University of Cần Thơ.
Over the last decades, thanks to our bilateral development co-operation programmes, many Vietnamese students have been to Belgium. Today I am very proud to say that we have about 4.000 Vietnamese alumni who studied in Belgium. They are truly the most significant ambassadors of people-to-people diplomacy. — VNS