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|PM Phuc (middle) at the online talks with his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern, Photo: Thong Nhat/ VNA|
Despite COVID-19, New Zealand’s Sequal Holdings Ltd. is seeking partners in Vietnam where it can provide high-quality wood products for making furniture. Currently, the firm is supplying Radiata pine wood for Vietnam’s VinaFor Saigon through a distribution agreement inked last October. Radiata pine wood is a sustainable plantation timber. It is versatile and used across a range of applications from paper, construction, panelling, and flooring to timber frames for furniture.
“We’re committed to providing our partners in Vietnam with high-quality pine that meets their needs for quality, sustainability, and value. This agreement represents an important milestone by providing 100-per-cent Forest Sustainability Council certified wood to help our partners grow their business sustainably,” Rhys Arrowsmith, the group’s head of sales and marketing in Asia, told VIR.
The co-operation between Sequal Holdings and VinaFor Saigon is contributing to Vietnam and New Zealand’s dream to increase bilateral trade turnover to $1.7 billion this year, from $1.1 billion last year.
According to Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment, as of June 20, New Zealand had 42 valid investment projects in Vietnam, registered at $209.5 million. In the first half of 2020, Vietnam wooed only two projects from New Zealand, registered with merely $90,000. Currently Vietnam has 10 projects in New Zealand, with the total registered capital of $32.7 million, focused on the sectors of manufacturing and processing, retail and wholesale, and repair of cars and motorbikes.
However, it is expected that both nations’ trade and investment relationship will further take off thanks to a bilateral strategic partnership forged last week by Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern during online bilateral talks, which also marked the first time that Vietnam launched such an important partnership with a foreign partner online.
“We highlight trade and investment co-operation as a key component of the strategic partnership, for the direct benefit of our people and businesses. Bilateral trade in goods and services reached a new record of $1.3 billion for the year ending March 2020,” stated the joint statement on the strategic partnership. “To that end, we commit to individual and joint actions to open markets and reduce barriers to bilateral trade, especially for agricultural, seafood, and timber products through enhancing market access, trade facilitation, information exchange, and collaboration between our customs, and agriculture, food safety, and animal health agencies. In order to also promote investment in both directions and encourage inclusive growth, we will also foster co-operation in the development of micro, small and medium enterprises, indigenous or ethnic minorities businesses, women entrepreneurs and other important areas.”
New Zealand is also an official development assistance (ODA) donor for Vietnam, with the amount of this capital rising annually, from just $2.3 million in 2003-2004 to $7.4 million in 2012-2013, and $18.6 million in 2015-2018.
Recently, the parliament of New Zealand also passed an ODA sum of $18.6 million for the 2018-2021 period.
New Zealand’s ODA has been funnelled through bilateral and multilateral channels, focusing on such areas as human resource development, education and training, sustainable agriculture, and rural development.
Both countries have also been cementing bilateral co-operation in defence and security, education and training, labour, transport, tourism, and agriculture.
New Zealand is supporting Vietnam in growing its agriculture sector, developing a more highly-skilled and educated workforce, and building resilience to disasters.
New Zealand Ambassador in Vietnam Wendy Mathews said that the two countries’ agricultural sectors are reciprocal. New Zealand has allowed the importation of Vietnamese mango, dragon fruit, and rambutan. In turn, Vietnam has opened its doors to New Zealand’s potatoes, frozen beef, kiwi fruit, and apples.
They supported each other and coordinated closely in the negotiations over and signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and are now pushing ahead with talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement.
As a member of the ASEAN, Vietnam is included in the NZ Inc ASEAN strategy. NZ Inc is the New Zealand government’s plan to strengthen this nation’s economic, political, and security relationships with key international partners.