“Vietnam is developing very fast. You can see it every day in Hanoi. This country is very much oriented towards the Future. It is a chance that Finland has to take”, says the new Finnish Ambassador to Hanoi Pekka Hyvönen. He presented his credentials to the President of Vietnam on August 8th this year.
The position in Hanoi is Pekka Hyvönens first ambassadorial post. He has previously been stationed in France, Iran and latest in Australia from 1996- 1999. Before coming to Vietnam he was working as the Director for consular services at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
“When the Tsunami happened I was coordinating the Finnish help from Helsinki. This was a quite complicated affair since Finland was the foreign nation who lost the most citizens after Sweden”, he says.
The rapid economic development in Vietnam, and the fact the Finnish embassy in Hanoi is a bit bigger than other Finnish embassies was one of the reasons why Pekka Hyvönen put Vietnam on top of the list. And his family felt the same.
“I am here with my family. At home we all agreed that Hanoi sounded like a very interesting place. My eldest son is studying at home, but the two youngest children at 14 and 15 are enjoying Hanoi very much already”, says Pekka Hyvönen.
Business and development
During his time in Hanoi Pekka Hyvönen hopes to strengthen the business relations between Finland and Vietnam building on the good will of the current Finnish development aid.
“My mission will be to move towards export and to increase Finnish investment here. My philosophy is that the business sector is a promoter for growth. Through development assistance we aim for sustainable economic growth – aid for trade – and at some stage the business sector becomes more important and this is the stage we are at now in Vietnam. We have to look towards the future”, he says.
In order to improve the business relations Finland has recently developed a new program for called Finnpartnership. “It is a match-making tool for Finnish and Vietnamese businesses to meet”, says Pekka Hyvönen.
“So far we don’t have many investment but we hope that in the future especially the IT industry, the shipbuilding logistics and environment technology will be areas where Finnish investments could be very useful for this country”, he says.
However, this does not mean that Finland will stop its development aid to Vietnam.
“There is a long tradition of Finnish development aid to Vietnam as Finland together with the other Nordic countries was one of the first to recognize Vietnam as a unified state. Finland has given development aid to Vietnam since 1976 and we will continue to do so in terms of grants and assistance. But we all have to think about transition strategies. Little by little Vietnam will become like China. For Vietnam, there is no way back”, says Pekka Hyvönen.
His concern is if Vietnam will be able to handle the exploding economy in a sustainable way without damaging the environment. “Also Vietnam has to make sure to maintain a social development which ensures that the gap between the rich and the poor is not too big”, he says.
Pekka Hyvönen is planning to stay in Hanoi for at least four or five years which is the common Finnish time of posting.
“I am looking forward to work here. Vietnam is a fantastic place and I am sure I am going to enjoy living in this country also in the future. One feels very safe in Vietnam. The only thing I am really afraid of here is the traffic”, he finishes.