Vietnam, Austria develop excellent relations in broad spectrum of sectors

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam and Austria have developed excellent relations in a broad spectrum of sectors, said Austrian Ambassador to Vietnam Hans-Peter Glanzer.

The diplomat made the statement in a recent interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency as Vietnam and Austria are celebrating the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties this year (December 1, 1972 – 2022), and the European country is marking its National Day on October 26.

Following is the full text of the interview.

Reporter: Austria was among the first Western countries to set up diplomatic relations with Vietnam. As the two countries are markng the 50th anniversary of their ties this year, would you please give your opinion on the Vietnam-Austria relations, in politics-diplomacy, trade-investment, culture and others, over the past five decades?

Austrian Ambassador: Back in 1972, we indeed planted the seeds for our cooperation. Over the last 50 years, Vietnam and Austria have developed excellent relations in a broad spectrum of sectors; these relations are based on mutual respect and a sincere wish to deepen our understanding and cooperation.

One prime example for the remarkable development of our bilateral relations is the economic field. The trade volume has increased tenfold since 2000 and attained a new peak in 2021 reaching an overall volume of 1.4 billion EUR (1.38 billion USD) with a high surplus in favour of Vietnam.

The academic field is a further example for the well-established relationship. There are close to 30 cooperation agreements between Austrian universities and their Vietnamese counterparts. Many of them participate in the ASEAN European Academic University Network, which was founded in 1994 by both Austrian as well as Vietnamese universities.

We are happy to see a resumption of visits at a high political level, which are paramount for strengthening our bilateral ties. We had the pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son in Vienna in September this year, where he met Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, the Ministers for Economy and the European Union, as well as the President of the Austrian Parliament. A visit of the Austrian Foreign Minister to Vietnam is planned for the first quarter of 2023.

Reporter: What do you think about the outlook of the Vietnam-Austria trade and investment relations? What are your recommendations for the two countries to make the most of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement?

Austrian Ambassador: The mentioned positive trend of our economic relations and in particular the trade part has been further strengthened by Vietnam’s free trade agreement with the European Union. The opening of an office of the Commercial Section of the Austrian Embassy in Ho Chi Minh City in 2019 was a further step to promote our trade and investment relations.

Currently, around 50 Austrian companies have branches in Vietnam, yet there is still room for more Austrian investment in Vietnam. Thus, we see prospects of increased cooperation in areas such as environmental technology, (renewable) energy, vocational training, tourism, agriculture, sustainable – in particular urban – transport solutions, and healthcare infrastructure.

Vice Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Vo Van Hoan (L) presents a book introducing the city to visiting Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, Regional Minister for Economy, Tourism, Europe, Science and Research at the State Government of Styria, Austria, on October 19, 2022. (Photo: VNA)

On the occasion of the last meeting of the Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation which took place at the level of vice ministers in Vienna in June this year, both sides agreed that the cooperation in the economic field needs to be enhanced.

Our Commercial Section is organising trade missions, including business fora, with companies from Austria. Just last week, one from the Austrian province of Styria with around 30 companies visited Hanoi, Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh City.

Reporter: Vietnam and Austria have discussed the possibility of expanding their cooperation to new areas, for example, renewable energy, green finance and environment protection, during the recent visit of Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son to Austria. What do you think about the two countries’ potential in these fields?

Austrian Ambassador: There is great potential in these fields. Austrian companies have a lot offer, for example in the field of renewable energy. In Austria, around 33 % of our total energy consumption (and close to 80% of the electricity) is covered by “renewables”, in particular hydro power.

Austrian Ambassador to Vietnam Hans-Peter Glanzer. (Photo: VNA)

Sustainable modes of mobility are also key when it comes to our joint efforts to combat climate change. The Embassy, in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport and Hanoi University of Science and Technology, organised the “Austria-Vietnam Future Mobility Workshop” in mid-June in Hanoi. The workshop gathered experts, authorities, companies, and stakeholders from Vietnam and Austria to discuss and present technologies as well as potential solutions aiming at a more energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and easily accessible transport system, particularly regarding urban mobility.

Reporter: It is said that cultural exchange builds bridges to understanding. What do you think about cultural and people-to-people exchange between the two countries so far and what can we do to leverage it to boost the bilateral ties?

Austrian Ambassador: Indeed, we believe that culture is a very effective way in presenting the richness and diversity of our countries. To this end, I would like to mention two cultural events which the Embassy has organised in the recent months: In July, an exhibition about Austrian composers of modern classical music was shown in the National Library of Vietnam. The exhibition was accompanied by concerts of musicians from the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra and the Vietnam Academy of Music. End of September, a saxophone Quartett from Austria played two concerts, one in Hanoi and one in Ho Chi Minh City, and gave two masterclasses for Vietnamese students.

Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son (centre) and other officials cut the ribbon to open the Vietnamese Cultural Space in Vienna, Austria, in late September. (Photo: VNA)

We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations also with cultural events. The Vietnamese Embassy in Austria organised a concert by musicians from the Vietnam National Academy of Music in the Konzerthaus in Vienna. The highlight on our side will be a classical concert of the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra together with the concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and two singers, one of which comes from the State Opera in Vienna. The concert will take place in the Opera House in Hanoi at the end of November./.