Vietnam - Asia 2023 Smart City Summit Hanoi celebrates 15 years of administrative boundary adjustment 12th Vietnam-France decentrialized cooperation conference 31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
Nov 25, 2021 / 14:10

Norway, Vietnam enjoyed solid friendship over five decades: Ambassador

Norway was among the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with Vietnam.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Norway-Vietnam diplomatic ties (1971-2021), Norwegian Ambassador to Vietnam, H.E. Ms. Grete Løchen, shared an article to look back on the close cooperation between the two countries and vision a shared future between the two countries.

The Hanoi Times is honored to introduce her remarks.

 Ambassador of Norway to Vietnam Grete Løchen. Photo: Norwegian Embassy in Hanoi  

This year, Norway and Vietnam are celebrating the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. On 25 November 1971, during the time of the American War in Vietnam, Norway was among the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with Vietnam. 

Over five decades, Norway and Vietnam have enjoyed a good and solid friendship and cooperation. Our two nations have many similarities as we are both coastal nations with a large seafood industry and among the world’s 10 largest fishery nations. Vietnam has during these years made significant socio-economic achievements, developing into a middle-income country and millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. This has also marked a significant shift in our historical relationship. The traditional relationship based on development cooperation has evolved to one based on equal partnership and joint business and trade interests. We are no longer donor and recipient countries, we are now equal friends and partners, bilaterally and multilaterally.

Oceans truly connect us. Our bilateral cooperation in the blue economy has become a hallmark in this 50-year relationship. Norway helped Vietnam with the development of the first Fisheries Law. Norwegian research institutions have been collaborating with Nha Trang University in building a strong academic center with high-quality education and capacity in the marine sector. Prominent Norwegian shipbuilding companies such as Vard Group AS have started operations in Vietnam. Now we’re looking into how we can promote marine aquaculture and fish farming in Vietnam. Norway has learned many valuable and practical lessons from the sustainable development of our famous salmon industry, and we’re ready to share our experiences with Vietnam.

Since 1972, official government aid from Norway to Vietnam has amounted to over NOK2.3 billion (US$257 million). Some of the key priority areas have been to address the effects of climate change and deforestation together with developing a sustainable ocean economy. We are proud that Norwegian experts, academics, and businesses have played a role in Vietnam’s success in transforming itself into what it is today.

Cross-cutting topics such as human rights, enhancing the role of women and gender equality, and inclusion of ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups have been high on our mutual agenda. This is more relevant than ever after the Covid-19 pandemic. Surveys show that women and other vulnerable groups have been the most negatively affected by the pandemic. Leave-no-one-behind and international solidarity is more important than ever if we’re going to succeed in reaching the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030.

 Vietnam's PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Norwegian Parliament Tone Troen in Norway in 2015. Photo: VGP

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg paid her first official visit to Vietnam in April 2015, and President Nguyen Xuan Phuc also visited Norway in May 2019 when he was Vietnam’s Prime Minister. King Harald and Queen Sonja visited Vietnam in 2004. Besides, our State leaders and Foreign Ministers regularly meet each other on the sidelines of various international summits, and we also cooperate constructively through organizations like the UN, WTO, UN, ASEM, ASEAN, and now AIPA.

Like Vietnam, Norway strongly supports a multilateral system with a strong and efficient UN at its core and a well-functioning international order. Our cooperation in multilateral forums has become an important part of our bilateral relationship. I am very pleased that we are establishing closer dialogue and cooperation on a number of multilateral issues – not least in the UN Security Council (UNSC), where our two countries overlap as elected members this year. Norway and Vietnam share many of the same priorities in the Council, including women, peace and security, protection of civilians, as well as climate change and security. We enjoy the close dialogue we have established so far on these issues.

ASEAN provides another track for Norway and Vietnam to work closely together on matters of mutual interest. Norway celebrated our 5th anniversary of sector dialogue partnership with ASEAN in 2020 under Vietnam’s chairmanship. The Norwegian Parliament – Stortinget also obtained the status of observant parliament in AIPA last year.

As the world’s economy is becoming more globalized, Norway and Vietnam share a strong interest in increased trade and investments. We see a lot of potentials for further growth between our two countries. However, we also want to contribute to more sustainable and environment-friendly growth. Our three key areas of business cooperation are mainly sustainable ocean economy, renewable/clean energy, and circular economy solutions. Norway has strong expertise and experience within these areas. We do see keen interest from prominent Norwegian companies such as Scatec, Equinor, Skretting to invest in these areas together with already well-established Norwegian companies in Vietnam such as Jotun, Yara, Pharmaq, DNV-GL, to name a few.

These companies are and will be creating new jobs for many Vietnamese as well as exchanging know-how and transfer of technology. Of course, they will also promote Norwegian business values including Sustainability, Innovation, Safety at the workplace, Environmental Friendliness, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

We, therefore, look forward to the completion of the negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement between Vietnam and EFTA countries (Norway, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and Iceland). An early conclusion would be in our common interest, bearing in mind the negative impacts of COVID-19 on our economies.

 Ambassador Grete Løchen and Vinschool students about plastic wastes.

Although 2021 has been unpredictable and challenging both health-wise and economically due to the pandemic, we do see hopes as vaccination has started in big numbers at the global level. We have all started the process of living with Covid-19 in a safe and sustainable manner. The pandemic has taught us a lesson of patience and above all the need for international solidarity and cooperation.

Norway welcomes Vietnam’s ambition of international integration and being seen as a responsible international partner. Vietnam’s commitments at the recent Climate Summit in Glasgow (COP 26) are highly appreciated. Norway stands ready to continue our dialogue and cooperation on the issues of mutual concern, stand up for global values, and work constructively for sustainable and green development. We are committed to remaining a true friend of Vietnam. We will go through challenges TOGETHER and make our shared future TOGETHER by leaving no one behind! 

  Vietnam's Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son awards Ambassador to credit her great contributions to gender equality and women empowerment efforts. Photo: Norwegian Embassy in Hanoi