Sweden – Vietnam Bilateral Ties

Sweden’s role to help Vietnam in EU
Since Sweden joined the EU, Sweden can have a direct influence on European politics and Swedish views are well known and respected. Sweden is also in the forefront acting for global free trade, an aspect of Sweden’s EU policy may have a crucial impact on developments in Vietnam.
Sweden is concerned about the anti-dumping measures affecting the Vietnamese shoe industry. Sweden is fighting hard to press for the EU to open up its market and to remove the barriers for developing countries’ export to EU. The recent initiative to launch the Open Trade Gate to Sweden, an internet portal, intended as a “One Stop Shop” to facilitate export from developing countries to Sweden and the EU. This initiative is a further sign of Sweden’s support for fair and free trade. Sweden strongly supports Vietnam’s efforts to join the WTO and hope that Vietnam will soon complete this process successfully. 
The Swedish values on a streamlined and professional public administration and also efficiency media in the society, are clearly shown in Sweden’s goals for EU cooperation and also seen to the relations with Vietnam, both bilateral and through the EU.

SIDA’s contributions to the bilateral ties
Sweden and Vietnam established diplomatic relations in 1969. Sweden is the first country to take such step. The development between the two countries dates back to that time.
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) in Vietnam was laid during the war with the commitment of Sweden’s late Prime Minister Olof Palme and the Swedish people. 
Initially, Sweden focused on humanitarian assistance and infrastructure projects. Sweden has over the years shifted focus to supporting the Doi Moi (renewal) policy, the economic reforms which aimed at improving the standard of living of Vietnamese people through relaxing macro-economic policy and reducing the government intervention in the market. The supports to Vietnam are strongly focused on human rights and democracy, which is an important priority for the Swedish government.
The long-standing, uninterrupted relations between Sweden and Vietnam have created an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding and made it possible for the two countries to cooperate also in such sensitive areas.

Sweden’s media experiences to share with Vietnam
Media-related issues and journalism are already part of Sweden – Vietnam cooperation. Training of journalists and editors in issues like gender, graphic design and photo-journalism has been successful but there is scope for wider cooperation.
While the role of media has been vital in the debate on recent scandals involving ODA funds, the media’s view of themselves and the government’s perception of the role of the media will have to change. This is one of the best ways to foster accountability and transparency in government and its agencies, and to encourage debate and people’s participation in the construction of the future Vietnam.
The ambassador said she believes that intensified co-operation in this area between the two countries would be vital and Sweden stands ready to share its experiences with the government and the media sector.
Experience shows that state-led corruption fighting leaves shortcomings, especially if corruption is dealt with through internal channels and without transparency. There is a clear need for strong media that are free to scrutinize public activities and individuals.
In any society, people’s participation is necessary for a long-term development, and this can only be achieved from the grass-root level and outside official channels. From Sweden’s experience, this is crucial for prosperity in the years to come.

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