Matchmaking Gives Norwegian Firms A ‘TIP’

On the occasion of Norway’s National Day on Saturday, Viet
Nam News spoke to Norwegian Ambassador Kjell Magne Storlokken.
    “As part of the UN Reform Programme, Norway pledged an
additional US$25 million last year to help eight countries, including Viet Nam.
What’s your assessment of this programme’s effectiveness”?

    “Norway believes in multilateralism with a strong United
Nations (UN) in the driver’s seat. With the participation of our prime minister
in the Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence, Norway
has taken an active position in supporting the reform of the UN system. In order to help the UN to implement an ambitious reform
programme, Norway last year pledged a contribution of US$25 million. Viet Nam’s
One UN initiative is a historic one, and together with other donors, we are
happy to contribute to realising the plan. For the 2007-08 period, Norway has
provided $7 million to the One UN Plan in Viet Nam.
    We are particularly happy to see the active role and firm
ownership the Vietnamese Government and the UN Country Team have taken to bring
the reforms forward in Viet Nam.
    Significant progress has been made over the past year. One
of the main objectives of the UN initiative in Viet Nam is to ensure that the
UN provides the most effective and coherent support to the Vietnamese people.
The One UN Plan is a key instrument in this regard. Improving co-ordination and
harmonisation among UN agencies will better facilitate the realisation of Viet
Nam’s development priorities.
    An important part of the reform agenda is to more clearly
define the comparative advantages of the UN and to emphasise these advantages
in its agenda and programmes.
    We believe that the UN’s significant role in shaping global
standards and bringing partners together through multilateralism and its
position as a proficient policy     dialogue partner are important aspects in this
    “How has the matchmaking programme brought Norwegian and
Vietnamese companies together in the past year”?

    “Our matchmaking programme has been given the name Trade and
Industry Programme Norway – Viet Nam (TIP). The kick-off for TIP was in June
last year. So far 12 Norwegian companies have signed up for the
programme and we have identified 34 interested and qualified Vietnamese
companies as potential partners. Three Norwegian companies have already visited
Viet Nam and several more will visit in the weeks to come. TIP is also open for
applications from Vietnamese companies and so far seven have applied. One of
these has already visited Norway and started discussions for establishing a
partnership with a Norwegian company.
    The overall objective of TIP is to contribute to reducing
poverty by promoting sustainable economic growth and social development in Viet
Nam through increased business activity, sustainable growth and increased
    The programme goals are to transfer Norwegian technology,
knowledge and production know-how; to give better access to and increased trade
to the Norwegian market for Vietnamese products and services; and to utilise
Vietnamese resources and know-how that could facilitate the participating
companies in their production and marketing of products and services.
    The TIP programme targets business sectors identified as the
most promising for co-operation between Norwegian and Vietnamese companies.
These are maritime, oil and gas, hydropower, environmental and trade business
sectors. Even though the start-up phase of TIP has taken more time than
anticipated, the programme now has good momentum.
    “Norway has long supported various educational programmes in
Viet Nam. Could you brief us on some of the most successful ones”?

    “Yes, Norway has over a number of years supported several
educational programmes in Viet Nam. School building programmes in Quang Tri and
Quang Nam provinces have recently been completed, providing high-quality
facilities for primary school children. The schools in Quang Nam are built in
flood-prone areas, after floods some years back swept away existing facilities.
    Schools for ethnic minority children in Dien Bien Province
have also been completed this year. A major part of our funding for education
goes to the National Targeted Programme for Education, a programme that Norway
supports together with the Government and other donors. We also support mother
tongue and bilingual education for ethnic minority children through UNICEF.
    Finally, I would also like to mention the co-operation
between Vietnamese and Norwegian universities. A particularly active
partnership is between the university in Nha Trang and a group of Norwegian
universities in the fisheries area, focusing on research co-operation,
post-graduate training of staff and upgrading of training. We also have an
active Viet Nam-Norway Alumni Association for Vietnamese students graduating
from universities in Norway.
    “Although still modest, two-way trade between Norway and Viet
Nam grew 15 per cent last year. This growth and Norwegian participation in
Vietship 2008 demonstrates mutual interest in continued trade and industry
relations. What do you think should be done to further promote trade between
our two nations?”

    “Yes, our two-way trade is still modest, being only $200
million in 2007. Norwegian exports to Viet Nam amounted to $40 million, an
increase of 27 per cent from 2006, and Norwegian imports from Viet Nam amounted
to $160 million, a growth of 11 per cent over 2006.
    I’m very happy to see that Norwegian ship-owners have
already signed agreements for more than $400 million and more contracts are
under negotiation.
    Norway has one of the most well-developed maritime clusters
in the world, and Norwegian ship-owners, shipyards and ship-equipment producers
are now strongly focusing on Viet Nam. A sign of this strong interest was the
presence of more than 45 Norwegian companies during the Viet Ship exhibition in
Ha Noi this spring, many with concrete plans for establishment in Viet Nam.
    Likewise, Norway has a large aquaculture industry, and many
companies are now eager to seek business opportunities and co-operation with
Vietnamese companies to assist in developing the Vietnamese aquaculture sector.
We also have our oil and gas sector with services and products available for
the Vietnamese industry, not least of all related to submarine development,
enhanced oil-recovery technologies and advanced production methods.
    Our telecom industry is also active, and some companies
would now like to seek opportunities in Viet Nam, particularly in operations
related to mobile subscriber networks. Finally, Norway has a strong focus on
sustainable development, including environmental protection and implementation
of corporate social responsibility. We strongly believe our experience within
these fields could be of value for Viet Nam.
    “What is your fondest memory of your tenure in Viet Nam”?
    “The opportunities that I have had to travel to various parts
of the country have given me many nice memories. I have been fortunate to see
at least a cross section of Viet Nam, from Bac Ha in the mountainous areas in
the north to Quang Tri in the centre to the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta and the
islands of Con Dao and Phu Quoc in the south. My wife has also joined me on
several of these trips, so we can share these precious memories. The beautiful,
green landscapes and the great diversity, both in terms of geography, people’s
way of life and culture, has been a great experience”.


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