Thu, 16/04/2015, 02:59 GMT+7
Promote cooperation in various fields between Vietnam and Norway
At the invitation of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dzung, Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg paid an official visit to Vietnam from 16th to 18th April 2015.

Located on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northwest Europe, Norway has approximately 5.2 million people with political and social stability. Labor force of the country is scientifically - technically qualified and highly skilled.


Norway has abundant natural resources, especially in energy (oil and gas, hydropower), seafood and forest. Export of goods and services, especially oil and gas plays the most important role to Norway. It is estimated that gas reserves of Norway is over 3,000 billion m3 and oil reserves is about 10 billion tons. Oil and gas export accounts for more than 50% of export value and over 20% of GDP. Norway is only behind Saudi Arabia and Russia in terms of oil and gas export.


Shipbuilding and marine transport is one of the major industries of Norway. Norway currently ranks third in the world in terms of providing the services for oil and gas offshore production. Besides, fishing, aquaculture and processing are the two most important industries along the coast of Norway, mainly farming of two kinds of salmon (yellow and red meat) for export. Norway also has hundreds of seafood processing plants along the coast.


In 2014, Norway’s gross domestic product (GDP) reached US$ 512 billion, per capita income was about US$ 100,000/year. Norway is now one of the 10 largest financial contributors to the United Nations. The country spends about 1% of GDP/year for development assistance.


Vietnam and Norway established diplomatic relations in November 1971. In the past 40 years, the bilateral relations develop positively and progressively deepened in many fields, from politics, economy, culture and society. The two countries have exchanged visits at all levels.


Most recently, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dzung and Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg had a meeting on the sideline of 3rd Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands in March 2014 and 10th ASEM Summit in Milan, Italy in October 2014; Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende also had bilateral meeting on the sideline of 10th ASEM Summit.


The two sides had effective cooperation mechanisms such as Deputy Foreign Minister-level political consultation and Foreign Affairs Director-level Human Rights Dialogue to promote understanding and cooperation in specific areas.


Norway has actively supported Vietnam in the innovation, poverty reduction and international integration. The two countries have had effective coordination in the international forums and organizations such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization (WTO).


The two-way trade exchange between Vietnam and Norway in 2014 reached US$ 307.8 million, an increase of 28% compared to 2013. The main export items of Vietnam to Norway include textiles, footwear, wood and wood products and cashew. Vietnam mainly imports seafood, machinery, equipment, tools, spare parts, fertilizers, chemical products, iron and steel.


In May 2012, Vietnam and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) including Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein started negotiation on Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The 11th negotiation meeting has just taken place in Ho Chi Minh City from 13th to 16th January 2012. Earlier in July 2012, EFTA recognized the market economy statutes for Vietnam.


By the end of February 2015, Norway has had 30 investment projects in force with total registered capital of US$ 121 million, ranked 37th out of 101 countries and territories investing into Vietnam. Currently, about 40 Norwegian companies are operating in Vietnam, mainly in Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau, Hanoi, Khanh Hoa, Binh Duong and Haiphong.


Norway’s projects mainly concentrate in the field of wood processing, construction materials and interior decoration, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, information and communication. Norway's investment capitals are wholly foreign owned, currently operating in seven localities. Vietnamese enterprises have not had direct investment projects into Norway.


Vietnam - Norway relations have resumed since the two sides signed the framework agreement on development cooperation in October 1996. Norway is now one of the biggest donors to Vietnam in the United Nations Programme on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (UN - REDD+).


In December 2012, the two sides signed joint declaration on “Cooperated implementation of REDD+ initiatives for developing countries”. Norway has committed to continue funding over US$ 30 million for the UN-REDD Vietnam Programme, Phase 2 (2013-2015) that is started as the pilot one in 6 provinces including Lao Cai, Bac Kan, Ha Tinh, Binh Thuan, Lam Dong and Ca Mau.


In addition, the projects funded by Norway in such areas as education, health, natural resource management, renewable energy... are also being implemented effectively. They contribute to supporting Vietnam to complete ahead of schedule the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations.


Total aid of Norway to Vietnam is more than US$ 320 million. In 2014, in addition to the committed amount for the UN-REDD programme, Norway’s financial assistance to Vietnam was about US$ 10 million. Although the funded amount was small, funding procedures and processes are flexible, appropriate to Vietnamese regulations.


Besides, Norway also has preferential credit program for water supply, wastewater and solid waste treatment projects in the provinces of Vietnam.


The cultural cooperation between Vietnam and Norway has increasingly been strengthened in recent years. Since 2007, Norway began to aid the cultural sector in Vietnam through Transposition Project connecting 12 arts organizations (Theatres, Music Colleges...), jointly organized concert programs, training classes, short-day retraining trips for students and artists, supported music teaching, helped develop the library and material archive, as well as supported the maintenance of musical instruments.


Transposition Project, Phase 2 (2012 - 2015) focuses on training, improving art management skills for Vietnam by organizing workshops in Vietnam.


Norway offers scholarships to Vietnamese students under the international student scholarship program, support the training of capacity building for lecturers and researchers of universities and research institutes of Vietnam. Annually, Norway has scholarship program for undergraduate and master training at the universities in Norway or in some other countries including Vietnam.


Since 2005, Vietnam has exempted visa for less than 15 days to the citizens of Northern Europe including Norway. Norwegian tourists to Vietnam in 2014 reached more than 22,700 people, an increase of 7.3% compared to 2013. Currently, the Vietnamese community in Norway has more than 20,000 people, most crowded in Northern Europe, of which 90% has Norwegian nationality, 60% has stable jobs.


The official visit to Vietnam of NorwegianPrime Minister Erna Solberg is to discuss the directions and specific measures to promote economic cooperation, trade, investment, and such areas as adaptation to climate change, water management, renewable energy, agriculture, marine economy, oil and gas, shipbuilding; promote the completion of negotiations for Free Trade Agreement between Vietnam and EFTA in 2015; promote the cooperation to realize the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and set Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the period after 2015.