New Zealand is looking forward to welcoming NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue: NZ Ambassador

WVR - According to New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam Tredene Dobson, the National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue’s visit to New Zealand is a great opportunity to build upon comprehensive cooperation between two countries.
New Zealand is looking forward to welcoming NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue: NZ Ambassador
New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam Tredene Dobson. (Photo: Thu Trang)

National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue will pay official visits to New Zealand from December 3-6 at the invitation of the New Zealand House of Representatives Adrian Rurawhe. On this occasion, New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam Tredene Dobson gave an interview to WVR.

Could you please touch on the significance of the National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue’s upcoming visit to New Zealand, especially New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has just had a successful visit to Vietnam?

New Zealand is looking forward to welcoming NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue to New Zealand this week. It is a wonderful opportunity to reciprocate the hospitality shown to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during her visit to Vietnam last month. It is unusual to have back-to-back high-level visits, but it is a great opportunity to build upon our comprehensive cooperation and achievements in a number of areas, particularly inter-parliamentary, trade, and people-to-people ties.

The education and business delegations accompanying Chairman Hue speak volumes for the growing education and trade links between our two countries. The education and business elements in Chairman Hue’s visit will resonate well in New Zealand, and amplify connections made during Prime Minister Ardern’s visit.

The National Assembly of Vietnam and the New Zealand Parliament have both played an important role in the socio-economic development of each country and in strengthening the bilateral relations between Vietnam and New Zealand. Specifically, the National Assembly has the critical function of assessing and then approving the joining of free trade agreements and regional economic mechanisms, such as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

As Vietnam and New Zealand both champion free, open and inclusive economies, the cooperation between the National Assembly of Vietnam and the New Zealand Parliament provides a useful opportunity to discuss how parliaments can assist in economic development.

Another potential area for discussion is the inclusive trade agenda, in which both New Zealand and Vietnam want to make sure our economic growth benefits the well-being of all the groups in the society, including the indigenous Maori people in New Zealand and ethnic minority groups in Vietnam.

Overall, I believe the upcoming visit will promote the mutually beneficial nature of the bilateral relationship, and advance progress in the key areas of trade cooperation, inter-parliamentary ties, and people-to-people links, as envisaged in the Strategic Partnership Action Plan.

How has parliamentary cooperation contributed to the overall bilateral relationship in recent years?

The National Assembly of Vietnam and New Zealand Parliament have had a strong relationship for a number of years, thanks to many two-way exchanges.

Only one week after the Strategic Partnership elevation in 2020, former National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Trevor Mallard, had a phone call to review parliamentary cooperation in the context of the Strategic Partnership. Chairman Hue’s visit is therefore an important next milestone in that collaboration.

The Vietnam-New Zealand Parliamentary Friendship Group has also been playing a vital role in maintaining the connection between the National Assembly and the New Zealand Parliament. Members of the group act as ambassadors for the parliamentary relationship both at central and local levels.

The connection between the two Parliaments is further strengthened through people-to-people links. Many officials of the National Assembly have brought back good memories of New Zealand, and enhanced English language, as a result of New Zealand’s English Language Training Programme for Officials (ELTO). This programme, which has been in place for a number of decades now, has really helped to build an understanding of New Zealand within Vietnam’s National Assembly.

On multilateral issues, both Parliaments have been cooperating closely and effectively in multilateral platforms on gender equality and sustainable development, contributing to the success of Vietnam’s ASEAN and AIPA 2020 Chairmanship and New Zealand’s hosting of APEC 2021.

As the National Assembly is the highest representative of Vietnamese people, this inter-parliamentary ties also represent and contribute to building a closer relationship between our two peoples. The understanding of the laws, regulations and cultures of both peoples have been enhanced thanks to these regular exchanges in both bilateral and multilateral channels in the past few years.

New Zealand is looking forward to welcoming NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue: NZ Ambassador
NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Hanoi on November 14. (Source:

The recent NZ PM Jacinda Ardern’ visit to Vietnam has had many good results. What do we need to do to effectively implement those results?

During PM Ardern’s visit, meetings with Vietnam’s leadership helped the two sides continue to build trust, share mutual understanding and reaffirm commitments, and build on areas of common interest. Officials will now need to work hard to take forward some of the clear goals set for the relationship by our leaders.

In addition to the leader meetings, we had an opportunity during the visit to take a deep dive into some important areas of cooperation – namely trade, agriculture and education. Agreement was also reached on how our civil aviation sectors could work more closely together. All of those areas are critical to our post COVID recovery. We now need to think about some very concrete, practical actions we can take to ensure we “walk the talk” so to speak.

It’s not just about government actions though. The visit also showed the value of business-to-business connections. Our respective private sectors have an important role in taking forward some new partnerships that have formed through the visit. Just one example: now that Vietnamese limes and pomelos have access to the New Zealand market, Vietnam’s horticultural exporters need to look at what they will need to do to take advantage of this opportunity.

In terms of education and civil aviation, Vietnam and New Zealand government entities, as well as institutions and companies, are also working closely to take advantage of the opportunities provided through the refreshed cooperation arrangements. This includes enhanced policy cooperation, information sharing, as well as training programmes and even opportunities for commercial exchange.

An important area where I hope we will see a step-up in collaboration is in climate change policy and response. Officials of both sides will work closer together to see how we can support each other to meet our respective commitments made at COP26 and COP27. I would like to note that we are already making progress in the agriculture sector and I think carbon markets are another area ripe for bilateral collaboration.

People-to-people diplomacy plays a very important and enduring role in Vietnam-New Zealand relation. Could you give some examples?

I think one of the greatest highlights of the bilateral relations for me over the last two years is that, despite both countries taking a COVID-19 approach that did not allow travel between the two countries, the people-to-people ties have continued to grow in every area.

Our people and our businesses, determined to succeed, found ways of working together. Vietnamese and New Zealand universities and other institutions worked quickly to create and then deliver virtual learning opportunities as well as taking the opportunity to prepare Vietnamese students for when they could travel to New Zealand.

Vietnam is now the fourth largest global source of international scholars to New Zealand, and the largest in Southeast Asia. This is a big jump from its 12th position in 2018, and comes despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international travel. We understand many students chose to stay in New Zealand even throughout periods of lock-down to continue their studies, and we considered it a priority to take good care of these students throughout the pandemic.

One other area I want to highlight is development cooperation. It is during times of crisis that the vulnerable are most affected. I am so proud that when the moment came, the strong partnerships and networks we had developed over many years came to the fore. Using these connections, New Zealand has invested nearly 2.2 million NZD since June 2020 in support of Vietnam’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

Now that both countries are recovering from the pandemic, we expect that the number of students and tourists travelling in both directions will start to surge again. People who visit and spend time in our respective countries truly become ambassadors – sharing their positive experiences with others and encouraging even more connections. As we have a saying in Maori: "He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata he tangata" (What is the most important thing? It is people, it is people, it is people).

Thank you, Excellency!

New Zealand is looking forward to welcoming NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue: NZ Ambassador
Opening ceremony of the New Zealand Education Fairs 2022 in Hanoi on October 29. (Photo: Hanh Le)
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