Việt Nam, a staunch supporter of Japan's Zero Emissions Community initiative: Ambassador

September 12, 2023 - 07:30
Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan Phạm Quang Hiệu talks to Việt Nam News about the potential of green cooperation between Japan and Việt Nam as the two countries celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year.
Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan Phạm Quang Hiệu. VNA/VNS Photo

Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan Phạm Quang Hiệu talks to Việt Nam News about the potential of green cooperation between Japan and Việt Nam as the two countries celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year.

After fifty years of nurturing and fostering ties, the friendship and cooperation between Việt Nam and Japan have consistently grown and developed comprehensively across all sectors. What stands out most to you in this relationship?

I am deeply honoured to have been appointed by President Võ Văn Thưởng as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Việt Nam in Japan during the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. Both nations are currently engaged in close coordination and joyful preparations for a series of activities to commemorate this significant milestone.

Having assumed my role for four months now, I have had the privilege of meeting His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, welcoming the family of Crown Prince Akishinonomiya to the Embassy, engaging with Japan's Government and National Assembly leaders, and visiting various Japanese regions. During these encounters, I have keenly sensed the proximity, authenticity, and the shared aspiration of Japanese leaders, businesses, and the people to foster stronger ties with Việt Nam.

On a personal note, my connection with Japan holds a special place in my heart, as I had the opportunity to study there from 2002 to 2004. The dedicated guidance of professors and the generous cooperation and support of Japanese friends enriched my experience and greatly contributed to my growth as an individual. This period allowed me to gain profound insights into life in the land of cherry blossoms, ultimately fostering a deeper understanding of the genuine and trusting bond between the peoples of Việt Nam and Japan.

This unique experience has equipped me with valuable knowledge and perspectives, enabling me to effectively fulfil the tasks and responsibilities entrusted to me by the Party and State. I am committed to further advancing the friendship and cooperation between Việt Nam and Japan, building upon this strong foundation.

How do you assess Japan's recent support for Việt Nam in achieving the goals outlined in the National Strategy on Green Growth for the period 2021 - 2030, with a vision to 2050, which includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions per GDP, greening economic sectors, promoting sustainable consumption, and ensuring a green transition built on principles of equality, inclusion, and resilience?

In October 2021, the Prime Minister promulgated Decision 1658/QD approving the National Strategy on Green Growth for the period 2021-2030, with a vision to 2050, which lays out four specific goals, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP, fostering sustainability in economic sectors, encouraging sustainable consumption patterns, and facilitating a green transition guided by principles of equality, inclusion, and resilience. To effectively transition to a green economy and fulfil our commitments made at COP 26, Việt Nam has formulated the National Strategy and Action Plan on green growth for the 2021-2030 period, with a vision toward 2050.

In recent times, Việt Nam and Japan have demonstrated active cooperation and mutual support in implementing their respective international commitments. Substantial progress has been achieved, further reinforcing the momentum for the realisation of our green growth objectives. This cooperation is expected to be enhanced in the future, as both nations possess significant potential in this field.

At the highest levels, in both multilateral and bilateral forums, Việt Nam and Japan have pledged their support for one another. They have also actively engaged in dialogue and cooperation mechanisms focused on energy transition, exemplified by the adoption of the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP). This declaration, ratified by Việt Nam and international partners (IPG), including Japan and members of the G7 industrial development group, the European Union, Denmark, and Norway, marks a significant step in Việt Nam’s commitment to green energy transition. Việt Nam stands as the third country, following South Africa and Indonesia, to endorse the JETP.

By implementing the JETP Declaration, international partners have committed to assisting Việt Nam in refining its policies to attract investments in energy conversion and efficiency improvements, power grid infrastructure enhancement, and vocational education and training. As part of this commitment, the partners have pledged an initial amount of US$15.5 billion over the next three to five years to facilitate Việt Nam’s equitable energy transition. In line with this commitment, the Japanese international bank, JBIC, has already pledged support amounting to $300 million through Vietcombank for the implementation of renewable energy projects. This collective effort underscores Japan's steadfast support for Việt Nam’s green growth agenda and reflects the strong commitment to this vital initiative.

Việt Nam is also a staunch supporter of Japan's Zero Emissions Community (AZEC) initiative. In early March this year, Deputy Prime Minister Trần Hồng Hà led a Vietnamese delegation to attend the "Asia's Net Zero Emission Community" Conference organised by Japan. During this conference, the two nations concurred in adopting a Joint Statement outlining the future directions for collaborative efforts in achieving an inclusive, equitable, and sustainable energy transition in Asia while ensuring affordability. Currently, Việt Nam and Japan are actively advancing the establishment of a joint working group dedicated to the practical deployment of AZEC, intending to devise specific and effective plans and actions.

Furthermore, the Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry announced the country's continued commitment to providing financial and technical support for Việt Nam’s endeavours in energy transition through the Asian Energy Transformation Initiative (AETI). This support extends to the introduction and utilisation of zero-emission fuels like ammonia, hydrogen and biomass.

At the grassroots level of implementation, numerous ministries, departments, and localities have been proactive in garnering Japanese participation and support for activities aimed at fulfilling green growth commitments. A recent illustration of this commitment is evident in Hồ Chí Minh City's preparations to host the City Economic Forum in September 2023, with the theme "Green Growth – A Journey towards Zero Emissions". The Vietnamese Embassy in Japan has played a pivotal role in mobilising and inviting nearly 20 Japanese delegates representing various sectors, including management, research, and business, to actively participate and deliver speeches at the forum's plenary session on green growth and the circular economy.

Moreover, a growing number of Japanese enterprises are actively seeking Vietnamese partners to expand their collaborative efforts in technology transfer, promote circular economy practices, and leverage microbiological technology to process organic waste and sludge into raw materials for fertilizer production. This initiative is critical for ensuring a stable supply for agricultural production and food security, exemplifying the deepening cooperation between the two nations in the pursuit of sustainable, environmentally friendly practices.

How do you assess the current flow of Japanese investment into Việt Nam, and in the Ambassador's view, what steps should Việt Nam take to attract high-quality investment from Japan for the successful implementation of its green growth strategy?

As of now, Japanese investment in Việt Nam encompasses more than 5,000 active projects, positioning Japan as the third-largest investor among 143 countries and territories. The total investment capital from Japan exceeds $70 billion, constituting more than 16 per cent of the total foreign direct investment (FDI) in Việt Nam. This figure, while seemingly modest, holds significant weight when examined within the context of the investment landscape of Japanese enterprises. Japanese investors have predominantly focused on crucial sectors within Việt Nam’s economy, including industry, manufacturing, processing, infrastructure, energy, and services.

The inflow of investment from Japan has made a substantial and sustainable contribution to Việt Nam’s socio-economic development. It has played a pivotal role in enhancing competitiveness within the spectrum of FDI capital streams. Numerous prominent Japanese corporations have established a formidable presence in Việt Nam, offering reputable, competitive products characterised by high technical sophistication.

These investments have played a crucial role in reducing reliance on imported goods, augmenting exports, and fostering economic growth in Việt Nam. Japanese investors have consistently demonstrated their commitment to adhering to legal requirements, valuing the welfare of their workers, fostering a sense of community, and prioritising environmental protection.

According to JETRO's findings from its 2022 survey of Japanese businesses investing abroad, more than 60 per cent of these enterprises have expressed their intentions to expand their operations in Việt Nam within the next one to two years. They have lauded the Vietnamese market for its high growth potential, acknowledging the prospect of revenue growth through market expansion and increased exports. It is noteworthy that 59.5 per cent of these businesses anticipate profitability, reflecting a 5.2 per cent increase compared to the figures from 2021.

In light of these developments, Việt Nam should continue its efforts to create an enabling environment for investment, emphasising the attractiveness of its market for Japanese investors. Additionally, nurturing a business-friendly ecosystem and offering incentives to encourage sustainable, green growth-related investments will play a pivotal role in attracting high-quality Japanese investments that align with Việt Nam’s green growth strategy.

Hence, to attract "green" investment inflows, particularly high-quality foreign investment, the Vietnamese Government has been steadfastly committed to enhancing the business and investment climate. It is actively implementing a set of integrated solutions, including (1) stabilising the macro-economy, (2) infrastructure development; (3) policy enhancement: Continual improvement of the policy framework and institutions, with an emphasis on enhancing implementation efficiency, administrative reform, and simplifying procedures related to investment, business, and land matters; (4) human resource development; (5) creating an investor-friendly business environment; (6) researching and revising preferential mechanisms and policies to attract foreign investment while navigating the landscape of global minimum tax regulations, all while ensuring compliance with international commitments and striking a harmonious balance of interests between parties; and (7) intensifying dialogue mechanisms with associations and businesses to promptly address challenges and concerns encountered by businesses throughout their investment journey, and steadfastly continuing to implement the "Việt Nam - Japan Joint Initiative" mechanism.

Along with these, we should also foster knowledge exchange and learning experiences with Japanese agencies and organisations in key areas such as high technology, modern technology, clean energy, and renewable energy. Additionally, we can explore methods for transitioning from traditional production to green production to reduce carbon emissions, aligning with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Concurrently, Vietnamese provinces and localities should prepare favourable conditions by investing in infrastructure, maintaining clean premises, and ensuring a skilled labour supply. VNS