Looking forward to the next 50 years of fruitful cooperation with Viet Nam: Danish Ambassador

Denmark's Ambassador Kim Højlund Christensen shared his views on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between Denmark and Viet Nam (November 25, 1971-November 25, 2021).
Looking forward to the next 50 years of fruitful cooperation with Viet Nam: Danish Ambassador
Danish Ambassador Kim Højlund Christensen. (Photo: Danish Embassy in Viet Nam)

Could you share the highlights of bilateral relations in the past 5 decades? What are the prospects of developing the relations between the two countries in the coming time?

Denmark and Viet Nam share a long history of friendship and close cooperation. Denmark was among the very first Western countries to establish diplomatic relations with Viet Nam.

It happened as early as 50 years ago - in 1971. Soon after that, Denmark began providing humanitarian assistance and preferential loans to Viet Nam to support its post-war reconstruction. Danish development aid to Viet Nam particularly accelerated from 1993 when Vietnam was selected as a priority country for Danish development cooperation.

By 2015, Denmark had disbursed some $1.3 billion in Official Development Assistance, making it one of the largest bilateral donors in Viet Nam.

As Danes, we are very pleased and honored to have contributed to Viet Nam’s remarkable achievements during its transformation from a low-income country with 58% of the population living in poverty in 1993 to a lower middle-income country on the rise.

Even though Covid-19 has had a significant negative impact on the economy – also here in Viet Nam, I am confident that the impressive economic growth rates Viet Nam experienced before the pandemic will return in the not too distant future.

In 2013, Denmark was the only Nordic country to sign a Comprehensive Partnership Agreement with Viet Nam. This was an important milestone as it elevated our bilateral relationship from traditional development cooperation to a full-fledged partnership encompassing political dialogue, trade and investment, green growth, energy, food safety, education and health. And the agreement provides a solid basis for continued cooperation in many areas.

Denmark was one of the first development partners to support Viet Nam in climate change adaptation and mitigation and as you once said, Denmark will continue to pay special attention to the “green agenda” in cooperation with Viet Nam in the coming years. Can you tell our readers more about this?

Looking back at the past 50 years of diplomatic relations and cooperation, we have achieved a great deal together, not least in the area of green and sustainable development. Yet there is still a huge potential for broadening and strengthening our partnership and collaboration even further in future, also within the green area.

This is not least due to the fact that Denmark already for many years has been dealing with some of the challenges that Viet Nam is currently facing. Among these could be mentioned pollution and the effects of climate change.

Danish companies possess world-leading expertise in renewable energy, energy efficiency, water & waste handling, food production, health and education, which are all important areas for sustainable development in Viet Nam. Therefore, Denmark can offer state–of–the-art solutions to make Viet Nam’s development more green and sustainable.

The recent COP26 in Glasgow, where both Denmark and Viet Nam confirmed their commitment in the area of climate change, highlights the importance of close cooperation within this important area. Our bilateral cooperation is already focused on the green agenda. And I am confident that our cooperation can and will be strengthened even further.

Danish Ambassador Kim H. Christensen in a seminar on STEM in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Training.
Danish Ambassador Kim H. Christensen in a seminar on STEM in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Training. (Photo: Danish Embassy in Viet Nam)

Having time living and working in Viet Nam, what is your comment about the efforts made by Vietnamese government and people in Covid-19 fight?

Covid-19 is a global pandemic – and has affected most countries in the world. In the first long period of the pandemic, Viet Nam managed to keep the number of infections at an absolute minimum. The arrival of the Delta-variant challenged this approach, as we have also seen in other countries around the world.

And as in other countries – including Denmark – Viet Nam is now increasingly learning to live with Covid-19, realizing that restrictions also have an profound effect on societies. For both Denmark and Viet Nam – as well as other countries – it is important to continuously adapt, adjust and manage the pandemic as it develops – at least until the majority of our population has been vaccinated. I am proud that Denmark has supported Viet Nam with vaccines through COVAX at a time when they were most needed.

What are Denmark’s orientations in promoting cooperation between the two countries in the near future, especially in the post-Covid-19 context? What do you think the two countries should do to promote economic, trade and investment ties?

It is very positive that we see that a growing number of Danish companies have chosen Viet Nam as their production base. In addition to capital investment, expertise, technology, and job creation they also bring in the Danish efficient way of doing business.

With the increasing engagement of Danish companies and through the ongoing cooperation between relevant Danish and Vietnamese authorities on energy, food safety, health and education, we can now focus more on matching modern Danish technology and know-how with Viet Nam’s goal of becoming a higher middle-income country by 2035, thereby continuing our contribution to Viet Nam’s long-term development path.

It is our hope and wish that we can use our 50th anniversary this year as an occasion to further strengthen our cooperation on green growth.

Denmark and Viet Nam have strong relations built on a solid and long-standing friendship. We are very pleased with all the results achieved during the first 50 years of diplomatic relations, and we are certainly looking forward to the next 50 years of fruitful cooperation with Viet Nam!

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