Viet Nam always welcomes co-operation with Middle East-African countries for mutual benefit and development, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at a reception in Ha Noi on Tuesday for ambassadors from the Middle East and Africa.

The Government leader hailed the initiative to hold a meeting with ambassadors from the Middle East and Africa on expanding economic ties between Viet Nam and the regions.

He said in its foreign policy, Viet Nam always attached great importance to the traditional friendship and co-operation with Middle East and African friends, adding that the collaboration between Viet Nam and Middle East -African countries had seen positive development in all fields from politics, diplomacy, trade-investment, agriculture, education, and science-technology to tourism and culture.

PM Phuc noted that although two-way trade increased by 300 per cent against 2010 to reach US$22.5 billion in 2018, the potential remains huge for co-operation between Viet Nam and the Middle East-African region. He stressed that ambassadors and diplomatic missions of Middle East-African countries play a significant role in helping the two sides fully tap the potential.

The PM suggested the two sides work together in fields such as trade, investment, agriculture, information technology and communication, energy, education-training, labour and tourism.

Besides bilateral co-operation, the two sides should expand collaboration in the region and the world, he recommended.

The PM welcomed the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and Viet Nam’s preparation for the signing of an agreement to set up a dialogue mechanism, and urged accelerating the establishment of official relations between Viet Nam and the African Union and expanding cooperation between Viet Nam and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other regional and sub-regional organisations in the Middle East-African region.

PM Phuc called on regional and international organisations, and development agencies of developed economies to accompany Viet Nam and Middle East-African countries in carrying out trilateral and quadrilateral cooperation activities towards realising common development goals.

On behalf of the delegation of ambassadors, Ambassador of Djibouti to Viet Nam Admed Araita Ali described the meeting of ambassadors from Middle East-Africa, an initiative of Viet Nam’s Foreign Ministry, as a useful activity. In the context of rising global protectionism, the co-operation between Middle East-Africa and Viet Nam proved the significance of opening the market, he said.

PPP in agriculture

Viet Nam, the Middle East and Africa should pilot trilateral public-private partnerships in farm produce production and processing, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh.

The partnerships should prioritise sectors in which Viet Nam has technological strength and high consumption demand in Middle Eastern and African markets such as rice, rubber, coffee, cashew nuts, breeding and aquaculture, he said.

Doanh made the recommendation yesterday at the ‘Prospects and Project Models for Agricultural and Aquaculture Co-operation between Viet Nam and the Middle East, Africa’ workshop.

Doanh said Viet Nam had sent more than 400 experts to support agricultural development in African countries such as Mozambique, Benin, Guinea and Senegal. The support of Vietnamese experts helped increase productivity of rice and farm produce of pilot projects.

“We [Viet Nam] acknowledge considerable contributions in terms of technical support and preferential loans from funds of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait for Vietnamese localities to construct irrigation works, saving irrigation and drainage systems and implement agricultural development projects,” the deputy minister said.

Dao The Anh, deputy head of Viet Nam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, proposed Viet Nam and Middle Eastern and African countries continue exchanges of crop genetic resources and transfer advanced farming practices to strengthen food value chains.

“The co-operation does not end at doing research on varieties but must be expanded to working with private businesses to produce seeds,” he said.

Mai Van Tai from the Research Institute for Aquaculture No1 said Viet Nam had aquaculture technologies relevant to the Middle East and Africa, from small scale models to ensure food safety to large models that enterprises could invest in.

In aquaculture co-operation, Viet Nam could support the Middle East and Africa in technological transfer and human resource capacity building, he said.

Ambassador of the Republic of Mozambique to Viet Nam Gamaliel Munguambe said “Viet Nam and Mozambique began a project of co-operation in agriculture in 2010. In 2010, Mozambique’s rice production was 2 tonnes per ha. After the introduction of good practice of Vietnamese agriculture, Mozambique is producing 7 tonnes of rice per ha, which is a very good achievement.”

According to the ambassador Mozambique has a strategic position for regional and international markets. Mozambique has 36 million ha of agricultural land but only 5.2 million ha has been used so the country has more room to make profit.

“80 per cent of Mozambique’s population is living in rural areas. We are making all efforts to improve our agriculture,” he told the workshop.

According to the ambassador, Mozambique’s co-operation with Viet Nam in aquaculture began in 2009.

“Before that, we used to produce 600 tonnes of fish per year. Since 2009 when we received technical support from Vietnamese technicians, we now produce 3,000 tonnes per year, which is also a good achievement.”

He took the opportunity from the workshop to invite the Vietnamese business community to invest in Mozambique’s agriculture and aquaculture in technology transfer, agriculture modernisation, drainage, processing service and infrastructure.

Investment in Mozambique is guaranteed by law. The country also has investment procedures and business procedure guides, according to the ambassador.

The workshop concluded with the signing of a memorandum of understanding to kick off co-operation between Viet Nam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Organic Agricultural Economics Institute, Lavifood JS Company and Green Start-up Fund to apply agricultural sciences in agricultural value chains’ sustainable development.