Vietnam-Israel Free Trade Agreement (VIFTA) a significant milestone in bilateral ties: Ambassador

WVR - According to Israeli Ambassador to Vietnam Yaron Mayer, the key outcome of Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang's visit to Israel is the signing of the Vietnam-Israel Free Trade Agreement (VIFTA).
Đại sứ Israel tại Việt Nam Yaron Mayer. (Nguồn: VOV)
Ambassador of Israel to Vietnam Yaron Mayer. (Source: VOV)

Ambassador of Israel to Vietnam Yaron Mayer grants an interview to The World & Viet Nam Report on the occasion of Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang's official visit to Israel.

Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang will pay a official visit to Israel. Could you touch on the significance of the visit? What are your expectations for the visit?

We are delighted to welcome Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, Tran Luu Quang, on a high-level visit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. This visit holds significant political and economic importance.

The itinerary of the Deputy Prime Minister reflects the significance of this visit. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen will formally receive the Deputy Prime Minister, who will also meet with President of Israel Isaac Herzog, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Speaker of the Knesset Amir Ohana.

The key outcome of this visit is the signing of the Vietnam-Israel Free Trade Agreement (VIFTA) between Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Nir Barkat and Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien. This milestone agreement has been negotiated for several years and will be signed in the presence of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang.

We also expect this visit to symbolize a further step in upgrading diplomatic relations and cooperation in various fields. Personally, I along with the Vietnamese Ambassador to Israel Ly Duc Trung will accompany this visit and have a strong commitment to follow up on its results.

We are also looking forward to future high-level visits, including a visit by Minister Nir Barkat and an Israeli business delegation to Vietnam in the near future.

The signing of the Vietnam-Israel Free Trade Agreement (VIFTA) is a significant milestone: Israeli Ambassador
Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son received Israeli Ambassador to Vietnam Yaron Mayer on July 6. (Photo: WVR/Tuan Anh)

Both countries are celebrating the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year. Could you point out some notable areas of cooperation between the two countries over the last three decades?

The diplomatic relations between the two countries have thrived over the span of 30 years, encompassing various sectors. When considering the most successful areas of collaboration, I would like to highlight trade, agriculture, and education.

Trade between the two countries has experienced substantial growth, progressing from nearly nonexistent to over 2 billion USD in bilateral trade at present. This has acted as a catalyst for successful negotiations and the establishment of the VIFTA, which is a significant achievement. The agreement not only opens up numerous opportunities to further enhance the quantity and quality of trade but also facilitates the interaction of Israeli companies with Vietnam.

The economies of both countries complement each other, serving as a bridge to neighboring nations. Consequently, Israel gains access to the Asian market, while Vietnam gains entry into the Middle Eastern market.

In terms of agriculture, both sides have collaborated to adapt proven technologies and systems from Israel to suit the Vietnamese context. This cooperation has involved training programs, attracting thousands of Vietnamese students to study in Israel.

Over the course of 15 years or longer, the Mashav Development Cooperation Agency has facilitated internships in training institutions and farms, allowing participants to gain invaluable knowledge and experience. These practices have been successfully applied in both the public and private sectors in Vietnam, with many agricultural professionals proudly acknowledging their training in Israel.

Lastly, the field of education and training deserves mention. Although collaboration has already taken place in postgraduate and high school education, as well as agricultural training programs, there is a need for further cooperation in this domain.

The potential of Vietnamese youth in driving the country's rapid development is evident, and both sides are keen to contribute to this process through educational cooperation, particularly in areas such as innovation and creativity.

Israel has already initiated specific projects with institutes, universities, and government agencies to establish and promote training programs for young people. For instance, the application of robotics in schools has been a focus, leading to reciprocal visits by Israeli and Vietnamese delegations and indicating promising prospects for expanding cooperation in the future. And recently, we have just organized an “Israel-Vietnam combating cyberbullying” seminar in Hanoi.

You have just shared that Vietnam and Israel will sign VIFTA during upcoming visit. What are your expectations about this FTA and the opportunities it poses to businesses of the two countries?

I would like to reiterate the importance of VIFTA signed between our two nations as a significant milestone, carrying immense potential for trade and investment between Vietnam and Israel, and beyond.

We are just starting to comprehend the opportunities it presents. I extend my heartfelt appreciation to all those who have devoted their efforts in the last 8 years to make this achievement a reality.

Regarding specific collaborative endeavors, I believe it is essential to prioritize increased exchanges, be it through business delegations or people-to-people interactions. These exchanges will facilitate mutual learning, the exploration of opportunities, and a deeper understanding of investment principles and infrastructure. The full realization of the FTA's benefits will necessitate the completion of several stages in its implementation to ensure optimal outcomes.

The signing of the Vietnam-Israel Free Trade Agreement (VIFTA) is a significant milestone: Israeli Ambassador
The Embassy of Israel in Vietnam and the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs organized 'Vietnam and Israel: Combatting and preventing cyberbullying' conference on July 20. (Photo: WVR/Thu Trang)

In this special year, what events will the Israeli Embassy in Vietnam hold to boost mutual understanding and friendship between the two countries?

Promoting people-to-people relations is a vital element in our bilateral relations. It is important for us to introduce each other to our respective cultures and ways of thinking.

The concept of a "startup nation" may seem straightforward, it actually begins with education from an early age, nurturing the development of ideas in the most effective ways. This is a practice we have implemented in Israel and now aim to adapt to Vietnam.

We continue to facilitate delegations visiting each other, including high-levels. Professionals in different sectors from Israel will come to Vietnam for cooperation projects, while we welcome Vietnamese colleagues to exchange their work and ideas in Israel.

Regarding cultural endeavors, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our diplomatic ties, we hold responsibility to encourage significant cultural exchanges between our two nations. Towards the end of this year, we anticipate a grand musical event where an Israeli symphony orchestra will perform alongside the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra, commemorating this important milestone in our relationship.

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