Vietnam-Finland: Enduring Friendship and Multifaceted Cooperation

9:14:49 AM | 4/2/2024

Vietnam stands prepared to facilitate the entry of Finnish commodities and technological innovations into its market. Concurrently, it is expected that Finland will persist in streamlining the import process for Vietnam’s key exports. These include, but are not limited to, iron and steel, machinery and equipment, automotive components, as well as materials for the apparel, textile and footwear industries.

National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue (R) and Speaker of the Parliament of Finland Jussi Halla-aho at their meeting in Hanoi, March 25, 2024

At the invitation of Chairman of the National Assembly of Vietnam Vuong Dinh Hue, Speaker of the Parliament of Finland Jussi Halla-aho paid an official visit to Vietnam from March 24-26. Chairman Hue chaired the official welcoming ceremony and held talks with the Finnish counterpart.

The two sides continue to promote exchanges

On behalf of the National Assembly of Vietnam, Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue warmly welcomed Speaker Jussi Halla-aho and the high-ranking Finnish parliamentary delegation on the official visit to Vietnam. He expressed his confidence that this visit will be an important milestone in the bilateral relationship. This was the first visit of the Speaker of the Parliament of Finland to Vietnam in 14 years.

Speaker Jussi Halla-aho sincerely thanked Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue and the Vietnamese National Assembly for the respectful welcome, saying that Vietnam and Finland have a good traditional bilateral and multilateral relationship. Recalling the very successful visit to Finland by Chairman Hue, Speaker Jussi Halla-aho emphasized that the visit opened many new opportunities for cooperation between the two countries.

The two countries have shifted from development aid to development cooperation and enhanced mutually beneficial trade ties. Emphasizing that this is a good development step in bilateral relations, Speaker Jussi Halla-aho noted that Vietnam is one of Finland’s important trading partners in ASEAN, with two-way trade expanding significantly over the past 50 years.

He added that the Parliament of Finland ratified the Vietnam-EU Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA), adding that Finland also has a separate Product Investment Protection Agreement with Vietnam. The two countries also have substantial potential for cooperation in energy, information technology and education, among other fields.

The two congressional leaders expressed their elation over the enhancement of bilateral cooperation, particularly in the realms of political diplomacy, economic trade, developmental cooperation, and educational training. Chairman Hue made a proposition for both parties to persist in fostering delegation exchanges, inclusive of high-ranking delegations at ministerial, sectoral and regional levels. He emphasized the effective deployment of bilateral cooperation mechanisms and the promotion of Party channel relations. Furthermore, he advocated for the fortification of the relationship between the Communist Party of Vietnam and Finnish political parties, suggesting suitable forms of cooperation.

NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue, Finnish Speaker Jussi Halla-aho hold talks in Hanoi

Finland asked to lobby the EC to soon remove IUU yellow card on Vietnam's seafood exports

Chairman Hue highly appreciated the effective cooperation and mutual support between the two countries in multilateral forums, especially at the United Nations; thanked and asked Finland to continue supporting Vietnam in strengthening comprehensive cooperation with the European Union (EU).

Vietnam is ready to act as a bridge for Finland to strengthen relations with ASEAN. Relevant agencies of the two countries work closely to jointly optimize benefits from the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and strengthen trade-investment connections.

According to Hue, the two-way trade, valued at nearly US$380 million in 2023, remains modest compared with the two countries' potential, saying Vietnam is willing to facilitate the enhancement of the trade ties and hoping that Finland will continue to facilitate major Vietnamese exports such as iron and steel, and machinery and equipment, vehicles and parts, apparels and materials for textile and garment and footwear industries.

He thanked the Finnish Parliament for ratifying the EVIPA and hoped Finland will encourage the parliaments of the remaining EU countries to ratify the agreement to bring it into force to ramp up investment cooperation between Vietnam and the EU, especially in potential fields like green economy, telecommunications, energy, environmental regeneration, water treatment, forest technology, communications and smart cities.

He affirmed that Vietnam always improves the business investment environment to attract foreign investment. After more than 30 years of attracting foreign investment, Vietnam is currently one of the top 20 FDI attractors globally, with about 38,000 projects capitalized at more than US$400 billion and the figure is increasing strongly.

Despite supply chain disruptions and a decline in global investment in 2023, foreign investment attraction to Vietnam still rose by 36%. Finland excels in several sectors that are of particular interest to Vietnam, notably innovation, information technology and digital transformation. These areas are not only Finland’s strengths but also align with Vietnam’s developmental needs.

Chairman Hue also asked Finland to lobby the European Commission (EC) to soon remove the IUU yellow card on Vietnam’s seafood exports, thus supporting Vietnam’s socioeconomic development, while helping European consumers access good quality seafood products at competitive prices. He affirmed that Vietnam is very clear that the strict implementation of IUU comes from its own interests and Vietnam is committed to this matter. The National Assembly of Vietnam passed many laws, including the one on control and combat of illegal seafood fishing.

Speaker of the Parliament of Finland Jussi Halla-aho inscribes his thoughts in the guestbook in the traditional room

Finland coordinates with the EU to further support Vietnam in agreement implementation

Regarding development cooperation, the two legislative leaders highly appreciated the fact that the two Governments signed an agreement on Finland’s Public Sector Investment Facility projects and an evaluation report on the transition process of Finland - Vietnam cooperation in June 2021, creating a framework for implementing projects using ODA and preferential loans funded by the Finnish Government, contributing to Vietnam's socioeconomic development.

Finland continues to assist in Vietnam's development of the Forest Management Information System (FORMIS) and strengthening of the capacity in forest governance, including the enforcement of the CITES Convention. Finland, in coordination with the EU, continues to support Vietnam in implementing the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VPA/FLEGT) to boost legal wood exports from Vietnam to the EU

Regarding energy cooperation, Vietnam recently issued the Power Development Plan 8, an important foundation for strengthening international cooperation in the energy industry, especially in renewable energy. Chairman Hue proposed that the two countries proactively communicate to business associations and organize trade promotion and investment cooperation programs between Finland with Vietnamese businesses, organizations and agencies to foster investment and technology transfer from Finland to Vietnam, helping bolster the development of energy and industrial sectors in Vietnam.

Affirming Vietnam's determination to fulfill its commitments to net zero emissions by 2050, he asked Finland to share its experience and boost cooperation in institutions, resources and green finance among other fields.

During this event, Chairman Hue of the National Assembly expressed his gratitude toward the Finnish Government, Parliament, and its citizens for their support and assistance provided to the Vietnamese community. He expressed his hope that Finland will continue to foster an environment that enables the Vietnamese community to live, study, and work effectively. He believed that this will not only benefit the individuals but also serve as a catalyst in enhancing the friendly relations and cooperation between the two nations.

Heightened oversight of effective implementation of agreements signed by both sides

During the talks, the two legislative leaders expressed their joy at the bilateral good cooperation of the two legislative bodies through the exchange of delegations at leadership and agency levels. Within the framework of multilateral cooperation, the two sides maintain contact, coordination and mutual support at regional and international parliamentary forums such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership meeting (ASEP).

The two sides continue to strengthen cooperation through parliamentary diplomacy; exchange more high-level official delegations and specialized agency delegations and increase exchanges of parliamentarians, including the Vietnam - Finland Parliamentary Group, ASEAN ties, female parliamentarians and young parliamentarians; exchange experiences in parliamentary organization and activities to further reform and improve the work performance of the Congresses and their supporting agencies.

NA Chairman Hue requested the parliaments of the two countries to intensify oversight of the effective enforcement of international treaties and cooperation agreements signed between the Governments, ministries, branches and localities of the two countries; support and strengthen connections and cooperation between businesses and localities of the two countries; complete the mechanism and legal corridor to facilitate cooperation between authorities and businesses of the two countries.

Furthermore, multilaterally, the two sides continue to coordinate and support each other at regional and international parliamentary forums such as IPU and ASEP.

Agreeing with Chairman Hue on strengthened educational cooperation between the two countries, Speaker Jussi Halla-aho said that Vietnam has been chosen as a priority country in Finland's talent promotion program. More than 2,000 Vietnamese students are studying in Finland, the largest number of foreign students in the European nation. Besides, more than 10,000 Vietnamese people in Finland are a community that is respected and appreciated for their diligence, industriousness and sincerity.

He expressed his hope that the cooperation between Hanoi Law University and the University of Helsinki, Finland will soon be implemented. The Ministries of Justice of the two countries are considering signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation.

On this occasion, Speaker Jussi Halla-aho hoped that relevant agencies of both sides will discuss and find measures to deal with obstacles to Finland’s Public Investment Support Fund in Vietnam. Regarding this content, NA Chairman Hue said he will direct NA committees to soon work with relevant ministries and branches of Vietnam to find ways to remove procedural difficulties in implementing this fund.

At the talks, the two sides discussed international and regional situations of mutual concern. Chairman Hue said that world developments are complicated and unpredictable, but peace and stability are still the main trend. Vietnam is steadfast in its foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, diversification and multilateralization. Vietnam is a reliable and responsible partner for peace, cooperation and development. The country is ready to contribute to the development of ASEP - an important forum in the Asia-Europe parliamentary partnership for solidarity, prosperity and better lives for the people.

Source: Vietnam Business Forum