Ngo Tien Dung / Vietnam’s Ambassador
Alberto Rubio. 19/05/2017
This year, Spain and Vietnam celebrate the 40th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. “The Week of Vietnam in Spain will show the good development of those relations and the great potential they have”, affirms Ambassador Ngo Tien Dung, who values the common points between both countries: “we are southern and that gives us a more open character”.
Was Spain one of the first countries to recognize the reunified Vietnam?
After the reunification, many countries recognized Vietnam, especially western Europeans. Spain did it on 23 May 1977, two years later, but it should be taken into account that it had just got out of Franco’s regime.
How have relations developed since then?
Spain opened its Embassy in Hanoi in 1997 and Vietnam did the same in Madrid in 2002. Nevertheless, in the last two years, our relations have been strengthened. There have been many top-level visits, such as that of our president in 2009 and that of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía in 2006, as well as many business, cultural and educational exchanges.
Where is progress the most noticeable?
Spain was the first European country with which we signed a Strategic Association Agreement, in 2009. Afterwards, we signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, the Protocol of Cultural Exchanges, the Agreement to avoid Double Taxation, the Agreement of Protection of Mutual Investments and others about adoption, which is very important, because around one thousand families here have adopted Vietnamese children.
What is the result of the economic agreements?
They allow a balanced development. Every two years, we renew the financial programme, which includes the Spanish Official Development Assistance and promotes private investments and trade.
How do Spanish companies fit into that model of development?
Spain has a great potential to promote our development. It is very strong in infrastructures, environment, culture and tourism, where there are already businesspeople.
Is not energy one of your priorities?
Of course it is. It is very important to us. Spain is helping us to develop wind farms, of clean energy, and we have great expectations regarding oil exploration with Repsol, which is already represented in Vietnam.
However, Spanish investment is still modest, is not it?
It is now of about 50 million euros. It is not much, compared to its foreign investment, which is quite high. But we understand that it focuses in Latin America or the North of Africa more. Nevertheless, because of its potential, Spain can still do more.
Are there tax incentives for investors?
We implement a very dynamic tax system to attract foreign investment. Depending on the size of the investment, there are companies that do not pay taxes in ten years.
How important is the cultural promotion?
Very important. Both nations know each other better and they develop their bilateral relations better. We now have about 500 Vietnamese students in Spain, because it is a stable and safe country, with a quality educational system and an acceptable cost.
What would entail the official visit of your Deputy Prime Minister?
In the Ministry of Economy, we will sign the creation of the Joint Committee Vietnam-Spain, which will promote cooperation in all fields. We will also approve the fifth Financial Programme, which, among other things, includes the construction of the line 5 of underground in Ho Chi Min.
Will there be more visits soon?
I hope so. The Foreign Ministry informed me that it suggested to Rajoy to visit Vietnam next year.
Vietnam has increased at a rate of 7% in the last years. Are you concerned about this fast growth?
This growth has its reasons. We started at a very low point, after a war. With the economic reform, we tried to implement a socialist market economy. That is why we do not worry so much about the speed. It is more important to achieve a social and sustainable economic development.