He recalled that 50 years ago, Belgium and its neighboring European nations, including Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Italy, quickly recognized the young Democratic Republic of Vietnam, stressing that they supported the return of peace and stability to a country heavily damaged by decade-long wars.

Belgian Ambassador to Vietnam Karl Van den Bossche

Several Belgium-Vietnam associations were established at that time to help the Southeast Asian country seek balances in the international arena, he said, noting that such associations are still existing today.

The ambassador said in the early stage of the bilateral ties, priority was given to Vietnam's national development, so the two countries focused their cooperation on building a self-reliant agriculture that produces added values.

In that spirit, irrigation and climate change projects have been rolled out in Vietnam’s Central localities like Ha Tinh, Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan, according to the ambassador.

Besides, academic cooperation has opened up new directions, for example aquaculture, Bossche continued.

He went on to say that Belgium has witnessed Vietnam’s international integration following its Doi moi (Renewal), stressing that door opening has enabled the country to record historic economic growth and gain the middle-income status.

Therefore, Belgium decided in 2018 to change its approach to the bilateral relations, from development cooperation to mutual economic and financial support, he said.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic ties, the ambassador said a celebration logo, selected from an online contest, has been issued on this occasion.

There will be many official visits with the engagement of businesses in the time ahead, he said, citing as example a trip by Minister-President of the Government of Flanders Jan Jambon scheduled for September, and the second trip by a delegation of Belgian firms, led by Minister of Economy of Wallonia Willy Borsus.

Notably, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde are scheduled to pay a State visit to Vietnam next year, he said.

Regarding the agreement on the bilateral strategic partnership in agriculture reached in 2018, the diplomat said its outcomes remain limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the past years have exposed the real challenges to Vietnam, he said, stressing the need to better optimize the country’s great potential towards the final goal of a linkage chain with high added value.

Along with investing in maritime logistics like the DEEP C Service Complex in the northern port city of Hai Phong, Belgium’s biggest project in Vietnam, Belgium plans to launch more projects in the connectivity chain in farming and husbandry, such as a cold storage chain in the Mekong Delta which is expected to greatly benefit the agricultural community.

Belgium’s agricultural technology would be useful in helping Vietnam to raise productivity and profits, he said.

Bossche emphasized that cooperation and mutual trust should be the foundation of business, and attention should be paid to social welfare and community development. This approach has been applied in cocoa production in Vietnam with the participation of Belgian enterprises.

Apart from agriculture, he suggested the two countries step up cooperation in green energy and climate change response, pointing to advantages for the collaboration such as new technologies and the E.U.’s Global Gateway Initiative. Besides, Belgium is also a logistics hub and a maritime gateway to Europe, while its pharmaceutical industry supplies vaccines and essential medicines to the world.

The ambassador said the upcoming visits will offer opportunities for Belgium to learn about Vietnam’s needs.

Mentioning the French Community of Belgium (Federation Wallonie-Bruxelles), he said its program this year features diverse activities such as film screening and training for Vietnamese journalists.

Source: VNA