British Ambassador to Vietnam: Admiration for a nation that keeps moving forward
British Ambassador Iain Frew visited many places in Vietnam during his first year in office and was impressed by the Vietnamese people's creativity, dynamism and aspirations.
During his first year in office, British Ambassador to Vietnam Iain Frew has always been enthusiastic about people-to-people exchanges. He believes it is one of the most important factors in cultivating friendship.
On the 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the UK (September 11, 1973-2023), he shared with The Hanoi Times the potential of cooperation.
Closer than ever friendship
Please tell us about the achievements in cooperation between the two countries over the years?
The UK and Vietnam have effectively cooperated in the economy, national defense, education, climate change and innovation... Particularly in the cultural field, I have found that the cooperation not only takes place at the scale of the two Governments but also has connections between artists, academies and cultural institutions.
|British Ambassador to Vietnam Iain Frew holds a press briefing on the UK Festival in Hanoi, Da Nang and HCM City. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times|
Especially in the past 10-15 years, the British Council has been a dynamic and effective unit in providing cultural exchanges, enhancing cooperation between individuals, organizations and people of the two countries.
Through the British Council, the UK has actively disseminated and supported Vietnam to implement the strategy for the development of cultural industries. A number of British Council projects in the field of culture and creativity in Vietnam are being effectively implemented, such as the "Vietnam Cultural and Creative Space" project, the "Connecting Heritage" project, the "Strengthening Intellectual Property Practices in Vietnam" project, contributing to the protection and promotion of traditional cultural values, as well as greatly enhancing sustainable development.
In June, the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the British Council in Vietnam signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen cooperation.
Another outstanding achievement has been in the field of tourism. I have seen an impressive increase in the number of Vietnamese visitors to the UK and vice versa since the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is also important to link culture through sport. I have seen your passionate affection for the Vietnam women's football team and the UK women's team at the 2023 FIFA World Cup. Sports are very important in bringing people together.
|British Ambassador to Vietnam Iain Frew (centre) said the UK and Vietnam are closer than ever. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times|
So how do you see the development of cooperation between Vietnam and the UK in the coming period?
The UK and Vietnam are closer than ever. The relationship is at an all-time high, with much potential in the coming years.
My ambassadorship has only lasted about a year. Still, I have been very impressed to see how Vietnamese society is evolving, how the Vietnamese education system is actively helping people, and how the economy is starting to innovate and attract more foreign investment. Vietnam has come a long way.
I have seen firsthand the vibrant growth and great potential of cooperative economic vehicles. In 2022, trade between the two countries reached a new record of £6.9 billion, up 29% from 2021 and almost double from 2012.
Earlier this year, the UK agreed to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) - a birch pillar of the Vietnam-UK Bilateral Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA). These agreements will further the two countries' expanding relationship in agriculture, finance, technology, healthcare, clean energy and education.
I hope to see many Vietnamese tourists coming to the UK and many Vietnamese international students pursuing higher education in our country. Chevening Scholars and other international students in the UK are future leaders who will contribute to the country's development and strengthen UK-Vietnam relations.
Impressed by the Vietnamese lifestyle
Besides the achievements, what are the challenges for Vietnam in the development process? How will the UK accompany Vietnam to overcome them?
In the future, we will see many challenges that are not specific to one country. It is a global problem of post-pandemic logistics, pollution, energy. At that edge, Vietnam also has obstacles in infrastructure and education development to get highly skilled labor capacity.
Not only the UK but also international partners are ready to help Vietnam. We are committed to working with Vietnam to address global approaches, including the consequences of climate change.
|Jimmy Constable (L) and Lee Brennan of the British boy band 911 enjoy bun cha (rice noodles with grilled pork) in Hanoi. They will be performing at the UK Festival.|
What is your impression of Vietnamese culture, country and people?
Over the past year, I have traveled to many places and realized that Vietnamese people have many stories to tell the world about their culture. I am impressed by the creativity of the people. They always know how to combine tradition and modernity.
I always feel the positive energy from Vietnamese people who express their desire to keep moving forward, have a better family life, and build a more prosperous nation. This attitude will help Vietnam continue to succeed.
In your opinion, what is the motivation for cooperation and cultural exchange between Vietnam and the UK to flourish?
At the highest level, cooperation between the two governments needs to be further strengthened. In addition, an important factor in promoting people-to-people exchanges is to make visa issuance between the two countries more convenient so that tourists, international students, and professionals can travel more easily.
As for the cultural and creative industries, I think the Vietnamese Government should provide tax incentives and investment funds to support this sector. If so, UK businesses and organizations will strengthen their partnership with Vietnam.
Thank you for your time.
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