The Hanoitimes - Ambassador of Ukraine to Vietnam Oleksiy Shovkoplias has taken office as the head of the Ukrainian diplomatic mission in Vietnam for eight years and a half. On the occasion of the Lunar New Year, he talks with Hanoitimes on bilateral relations as well as the role played by Ukrainians in Hanoi and the Vietnamese businesspeople who started up in the East European country.
Could you name the biggest highlights of the Ukraine – Vietnam relationship over the past years?
During the past eight years, we have changed the general picture of our relations for the better significantly. We have dialogues from the highest level to working and expert levels. We have many visits by high-ranking Ukrainian leaders and officials to Vietnam. We also had official visits by Vietnamese leaders to Ukraine, like the visit by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung during my job as ambassador to Vietnam.
We have also practically doubled our bilateral trade. When I started as ambassador to Vietnam (in 2010), bilateral trade turnover was some US$200 million in 2010 and the figure reached almost US$500 million in 2017. For 2018, although we haven’t had the official statistics, bilateral trade turnover was quite promising, expected at between US$700 million and US$800 million. With that momentum, we hope the figure to reach US$1 billion in 2019.
Ambassador of Ukraine to Vietnam Oleksiy Shovkoplias. Photo: Minh Tuan
To highlight the Ukraine – Vietnam relations in 2018, besides the economic and trade cooperation, of course it is the base to have good relations with any countries, we should mention that we had regular contacts of high level. We had a number of important visits by leaders of Ukrainian ministries to Vietnam, such as the ones by a deputy minister of infrastructure, a deputy minister of agriculture, the head of treasury. In addition, we had official visits of Ukrainian parliament officials to Vietnam, to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. During the visit, we had very fruitful negotiations between Ukraine’s parliament and Vietnam’s National Assembly.
Our relations are not only measured exclusively by bilateral bases, also by cooperation at international organizations. Especially in the United Nations, we support each other in every issue, including Vietnam’s running for a seat in the Security Council.
Technical cooperation between the two countries is also going well. In 2018, Ukraine’s Institute of Technical Thermophysics and Vietnam’s Institute of Technologies signed an agreement on technology transfer and construction of production facilities in Vietnam. We speak about processing of peat which is abundant in Vietnam, into fertilizers and fossil fuel. It is non-waste production. The agreement is very promising, there will be a large production facility with Ukrainian technology.
Vietnam has rich agriculture with a favorable climate for a wide variety of plants, but there is room for further development, especially in farm produce processing
What are the major events that are expected to mark the bilateral relations this year? Could we expect Ukrainian President Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko to visit Vietnam this year after the cancellation in 2018?
In the lead-up to the state visit by Ukrainian President Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko to Vietnam in 2018, we had finished the preparation for the signing of some 10 very important agreements between the two countries, especially in the fields of economy and trade, agriculture and standardization. Because of objective reasons, we had to postpone the visit to 2019. We did not cancel it.
There will be presidential elections in Ukraine at the end of March 2019. It does not matter who will be elected president of Ukraine. I hope the elected president will visit Vietnam this year because it is really important and will give some impulse to the bilateral relations. If we want to have good dynamic relations, we must have regular contacts of the highest level.
However, there remain issues that we need to continue working on, like the visa regime, to provide a boost to our relationship.
A good number of successful Vietnamese business leaders started up in Ukraine. How do you see their role in the Vietnamese economy and contributions to the two nations’ relations?
The bosses of the three big Vietnamese corporations namely Vingroup, Sungroup and VietJet started their businesses in Ukraine and are now very successful. They made their first money in Ukraine and returned to Vietnam being rich, and invested their money in this country.
Their contributions to the Vietnamese economy are significant. Take Vingroup as example. In Hanoi, they have built large residential complexes like Royal City, Times City, and Vinhomes Riversides. They are changing the living standard for the better, I could not imagine the government could create such living spaces.
Vingroup has also built several Vinmec clinics, with the quality meeting international standards. They also started new businesses in Vietnam like pharmaceuticals, and car production (VinFast) although they know it’s not simple as competition in the world is strong. But they started and they are doing this well. They started agribusiness with good quality.
Meanwhile, Sungroup is building major entertainment and tourism facilities in Ha Long Bay, Da Nang, Sapa. InterContinental Da Nang can compete with any other hotels in the world. They have the best, highest level recreation centers.
About VietJet, I admire how quickly they are growing, including in the aviation and banking sectors. That’s how the private sector is contributing to the overall Vietnamese economy.
People should not forget that those businesspeople got their first experience, first money, success in Ukraine.
What is your message to the Vietnamese people in the Lunar New Year?
I wish Vietnamese people to have a stable situation in the country. If you have mutual understanding, support each other, and have social stability, you will enjoy economic growth. I wish you to have stability and peace in the society, welfare and heath to all Vietnamese families. I also wish you to have a good international environment around you.
Thank you very much, Ambassador!