Vietnam-Netherlands share a model relationship of dynamism, effectiveness

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte witness the signing of a Joint Statement between the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands on cooperation
in reducing emissions in production and consumption. Photo: VNA

Since Vietnam and the Netherlands set up their diplomatic relations on April 9, 1973, the two sides have jointly developed a sound friendship and cooperation across all fields, from politics, economy, and education to defence and security.

On the foundation of a trustful friendship, shared political determination, great cooperation potential and a supplementary economy, the ties between the two countries are to continue to blossom and bear fruit with a deepened and substantial comprehensive partnership.

  • Trustful political-diplomatic relations

Vietnam’s relations with the Netherlands are dynamic and effective, as much so as with any other European country. Long before the official establishment of diplomatic relations, Dutch traders arrived in Vietnam to buy spices, rice, silk, and crockery. During Vietnam’s struggle against the US imperialists, many Dutch people took to the streets to protest the war, while the Medical Committee Netherlands – Vietnam (MCNV) was set up to provide humanitarian assistance to Vietnam.

Since the 1990s, the relationship between the two countries has been strengthened, with the Netherlands taking Vietnam as a priority partner and its policy to promote cooperation with Vietnam receiving high support and consensus from Dutch politicians, community and businesses.

The two sides set up a strategic partnership on climate change adaptation and water management in October 2010 and a strategic partnership on sustainable agriculture and food security in June 2014, while upgrading their ties to a comprehensive partnership during Dutch PM Mark Rutte’s visit to Vietnam in April 2019. The two sides have enjoyed expanding partnership in many areas, from politics, diplomacy to economy, trade and investment.

Most recently, during PM Pham Minh Chinh’s official visit to the Netherlands in November of 2022, leaders of the two countries agreed to strengthen and further deepen bilateral cooperation within the framework of the strategic partnership on climate change adaptation and strategic partnership on sustainable agriculture. They also agreed to expand their cooperation in defence and security, culture and tourism, transport, science and technology, and education and training, and to continue to support each other at multilateral forums such as the ASEAN-EU cooperation, the ASEAN-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and the UN.

Leaders of the two countries also concurred to continue to effectively implement the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and work together to become hubs for transshipment of goods in the two regions.

* Growing economic-trade-investment cooperation

The Netherlands is a leading trading partner and investor of Vietnam in Europe. Bilateral trade reached 8.37 billion USD in 2021, and 11.1 billion USD in 2022, up 32.6% compared to 2021. It was also the market that Vietnam saw the second largest trade surplus with in 2022.

The implementation of the EVFTA from August 2020 has brought about great chances for businesses from both sides to expand their partnership. As a result, many Vietnamese farm produce have entered the EU with a preferential tax rate.

In terms of investment, as of March 2023, the Netherlands ranked eighth out of the 143 countries and territories investing in Vietnam and first among the EU members, with 421 projects worth 13.89 billion USD.

Regarding development cooperation, for decades the Netherlands is one of the biggest ODA providers for Vietnam among the EU member countries. In June 1999, it listed Vietnam as one of the prioritised countries for ODA. In October 2000, the two countries signed a framework agreement on development cooperation. At the same time, the Netherlands also offered assistance in the non-governmental form through the MCNV – an organisation that has provided great help to Vietnam in medicine, public health, and livelihood development for poor people in rural areas since 1968.

Since January 2014, the Netherlands has shifted its relationship with Vietnam to a trading partner, focusing on promoting its trade and investment ties with the Southeast Asian country in order to contribute to Dutch economic growth and employment. However, it has still continued to sponsor many social organisations in Vietnam operating in the social and economic areas.

  • Effective collaboration across all fields

Along with promoting trade and investment partnership, Vietnam and the Netherlands are working hard together to broaden their ties to other fields. Particularly, the two countries set up a strategic partnership in climate change adaptation and water management in 2010.

At the fifth meeting of the Vietnam-Netherlands Inter-Governmental Committee on climate change adaptation and water management

A highlight of the cooperation in the first years of the partnership was collaboration in the Mekong Delta Plan with a long-term vision. Vietnam received many recommendations on solving issues of water resource management and adapting to climate change in order to turn the Mekong Delta into a region of sustainable economic development.

The Netherlands has continued to share experiences, human resources, and technologies with Vietnam to assist the country in solving urgent problems including combating drought and saltwater intrusion, and in dealing with subsidence and erosion problems along riverbanks and coasts.

The two countries have also enjoyed fruitful cooperation in agriculture. Within the framework of the bilateral strategic partnership on climate change adaptation and sustainable agriculture, the two sides have implemented many joint programmes and projects of medium and long terms. The Netherlands is currently a major investor in Vietnam’s agricultural industry and is helping Vietnam gradually build sustainable agricultural production, increasing the value of exports, especially vegetables and fruits, livestock and aquatic products.

In the education-training area, the Netherlands has supported Vietnam with many projects. From August 2002, the European partner listed Vietnam as one of the countries enjoying special policies in tertiary training cooperation. Many universities and research institutes of Vietnam have set up their cooperative relations with their Dutch peers.

In terms of health care, over the past two years, the Netherlands has provided Vietnam with 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and medical equipment worth 43 billion VND to help the country control the pandemic./.