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Dec 14, 2021 / 20:53

Vietnam asks South Korea to relax ODA conditions

South Korea has continued providing financial assistance to Vietnam, focusing on five key sectors namely digital transformation, tertiary education, building the South Korea-Mekong community, smart city, and transport.

Vietnam’s top lawmaker has asked South Korea to loosen conditions for the use of official development assistance (ODA) from the East Asian country amid a widening trade gap.

 Chairman of Vietnam's National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue (L) and South Korean National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug in Seoul on Dec 13. Photos: VNA

Chairman of Vietnamese National Assembly (NA) Vuong Dinh Hue expressed the idea at the meeting with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug in Seoul on December 13.

Hue hoped that South Korea will relax the binding conditions on the use of Korean goods and services in projects using ODA from the country.

Hue made the statement during the ongoing four-day visit to South Korea, the second biggest ODA donor of Vietnam supplying US$1.5 billion in 2016-2020 through the Korea Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF).

Vietnam is the biggest recipient of South Korean ODA that focuses on five key sectors namely digital transformation, tertiary education, building the South Korea-Mekong community, smart city, and transport.

Earlier, the World Health Organization Representative in Vietnam Kidong Park said improving public health should be listed in the fields receiving South Korea’s ODA. The move would be very helpful to enable the country to develop its economy and another reason is that the Korean healthcare model is worth learning about.

At the meeting with his counterpart, the Vietnamese top lawmaker hoped the two countries will continue working together in healthcare, especially transferring technology of producing Covid-19 vaccines and drugs.

The two lawmakers agreed to deepen cooperation in digital transformation for 2025 and vision to 2030, major transport projects, IT in the health sector, medical insurance, medical tourism, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and food safety.    

 Chairman of Vietnam's National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue (L) and Hyosung Group’s Vice Chairman Cho Hyun-sang in Seoul on Dec 14.


Economic relations in the spotlight

Regarding economic ties, about 15 investment licenses and investment cooperation deals that authorities in Vietnam’s Thai Nguyen, Ha Nam, Bac Ninh, Thai Binh, and Hai Duong granted to South Korean investors with the attendance of the two top lawmakers.

In addition, 12 other investment licenses and cooperation deals were also inked virtually.

On December 13, Hue met dozens of executives of South Korea’s leading companies namely Samsung Electronics, Hanwha, Daewoo E&C, SK, Lotte to welcome more investment and tech transfer in innovation, renewable energy, smart city, and more engagement of Vietnamese businesses in the global value chain.

On December 14, Hue continued meeting Hyosung Group’s Vice Chairman Cho Hyun-sang, GS Engineering & Construction’s Vice Chairman Lim Byeong-yong, Kyobo Pyun Jung-bum, Amorepacific’s CEO Suh Kyung-bae, and Dongwon Systems Vice Chairman Park In-ku.

In working with South Korea’s textile and chemical conglomerate Hyosung Group, Hue said Vietnam will complete vaccinating all adults aged above 18 by the end of this year so it enables companies to resume operations as almost good as before. He said as Vietnam no longer imposed a lockdown on a large scale, it facilitates companies’ production as transport and mobility become smooth.

 Chairman of Vietnam's National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue (R) and GS Engineering & Construction’s Vice Chairman Lim Byeong-yong in Seoul on Dec 14.

Meanwhile, Hue told Lim Byeong-yong that he highly appreciated the corporation’s investment in infrastructure in Vietnam, saying that Vietnam has issued a list of 157 projects in transport infrastructure, infrastructure in industrial parks, and economic zones, which are suitable with GS E&C investment portfolios.  

In talks with Kyobo Life Insurance’s President and CEO Pyun Jung-bum, Hue welcomed its plan to penetrate the Vietnamese market, saying that the market is potential but competitive and Vietnam is making efforts to develop a safe, transparent, and effective insurance market. Vietnam’s National Assembly has discussed the draft revised Law on Insurance Business and might adopt it in May 2022.

Pyun Jung-bum said Kyobo, which is one of the top three biggest life insurers in South Korea, pays special attention to Vietnam when it expands investment in Southeast Asia.

When talking with Hue, Suh Kyung-bae shared that South Korea’s largest cosmetic and skincare maker Amorepacific plans to open a factory in Southeast Asia and Vietnam is a prioritized destination.

Hue welcomed the plan and said the market of nearly 100 million people is potential for Amorepacific and Vietnamese customers who are fond of South Korean cosmetics.  

Meanwhile, Dongwon expected that Vietnam and South Korea would sign an agreement on seafood processing to support its operations in food and beverage, cold storage, container, logistics, transportation, finance besides the production of packaging materials in Vietnam.

Hue said Dongwon’s investment portfolios in Vietnam are of great demand as Vietnam has signed 17 free trade agreements (FTAs), including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the European Union Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Currently, South Korea is the biggest investor in Vietnam with roughly $74 billion in more than 9,200 projects, including Samsung complexes and plants in the northern provinces of Bac Ninh and Thai Nguyen.