Sweden Plans To bolster E-ties With Vietnam

On the
occasion of Sweden’s
National Day today the Vietnam News interviewed ambassador to Vietnam Rolf
Bergman.

    Sweden leads the world in
e-government. How do you think Sweden
can help Vietnam
in this area?

    “It is true
that Sweden
is a leading force in e-government. E-government is all about improving
services for citizens, a way to improve democratic governance. The goal is to
simplify and improve these services to citizens and businesses and to make it
easier for them to get information and be in dialogue with authorities to claim
their rights and know their responsibilities”.
    “Ideally,
citizens should not even have to know which part of the administration they are
talking to when for instance electronically turning in applications or tax
returns. Applications and database systems allow different public systems to
cooperate and can make the flow of information in the government effective”.
    “Responsible
agencies in Sweden
are constantly developing and evaluating the work done within the area of
e-government and are thereby in a good position to share experiences made with
other countries. It is my hope that, as the public service and administration
in Vietnam improves, you
will look to Sweden
for inspiration and experience”.
    Could you brief us on progress in business
co-operation between the two countries during the last year?

    “These are
very exciting times in Vietnam.
The country is on the verge of becoming a middle-income country and has in a
remarkably short time entered the global economy. As a country that has had
close relations with Vietnam
for 40 years, we congratulate all Vietnamese on these achievements and look
forward to continue our various partnerships in the future”.
    As Vietnam
develops further, trade relations become increasingly important, as do tourism
and cultural exchange. It is with great joy that we will welcome deputy prime
minister Nguyen Sinh Hung and an accompanying business delegation to Stockholm later in June,
a visit that focuses on business opportunities, trade and investment.
    “There is no
question that interest in Vietnam
as a trading and investment partner is growing, in spite of recent difficulties
in the economy. Vietnam
has a large and young population, looking ahead and wanting to improve their
living conditions”.
    “I am very
happy to see that Swedish products and knowledge continue to contribute to the
development of Vietnam and
that we see continuous growth in Vietnamese products exported to Sweden.
In relation to its size, Sweden
has an unusually large number of large multinational companies, most of which
are present here in Vietnam“.
    “It is very
satisfying to see these companies grow at such a fast pace. But in the last
year, we have seen new and smaller companies coming to Vietnam in a
variety of sectors. All indications show that this trend will continue, not
least because of the increased interest in Vietnam in Swedish media”.
The
interest in Vietnamese food and culture is growing in Sweden and more
tourists come here. All of this also creates interest in doing business here.
    “The trends
are positive and I am convinced that we have only begun to tap the potential
for companies in both Vietnam
and Sweden
to find business opportunities. We can look forward to very interesting and
exciting times ahead”.
    As many as
30 Vietnamese and Swedish universities and R&D institutions have been
involved in the
Sweden
and Vietnam Research programme, which started 30 years ago and will end in
2011. How do you think Vietnamese and Swedish institutions benefit from the programme?

    “The
research co-operation between our countries has changed over the past 30 years.
It started with a focus on the urgent needs of Vietnam, but switched its focus to
the more systematic development of research capacity— creating fertile research
environments, providing research education and developing methods to set
priorities and allocate funds for research”.
    “The main
purpose of the final phase ending in 2011 is to support PhD and Master’s
students in obtaining degrees as a means of contributing to the sustainability
of research environments. By 2007, a total of 42 PhD and 99 Master’s candidates
successfully defended their dissertations in Sweden. Another 42 PhD students
will complete their studies by 2011. The co-operation also supports Vietnamese
institutions carrying out PhD and Master’s training in Vietnam, where
33 Masters’ and 38 PhD degrees were awarded by the end of 2007″.
“Financially,
from the second half of the 1980s to the present, Sweden
has remained a relatively small contributor to the overall funding of research
and development (R&D) in Vietnam“.
    The Swedish
Government has contributed 280 million SEK (US$35 million) of which a large
amount was disbursed after 1990s   for research capacity building combined with
training of PhD, Master students, researchers and technicians.
    However, it
may be noted that the impact of Swedish co-operation in some priority areas of
research, such as agriculture/husbandry, forestry and health – has been
significant and much larger than the actual level of funding.   
    “This
research co-operation has been of great value to both our countries and the
institutions involved. As Sweden
and Vietnam
enter a new stage in their partnership, I think that the solid friendship and
bonds of our researchers and the mutual benefits for both parties will form a
foundation for even more rewarding research co-operation between our countries
in the future”.
    Sweden is the biggest donor to support Vietnam in the media sector through
a project to give journalists additional training. During the past seven years,
about 10 per cent of Vietnam’s
journalists have received this training either in Sweden
or in Vietnam.
What is your evaluation of the programme results? How would you evaluate the
Vietnamese media in recent years?

    “Support for
the media sector in Vietnam
is one of the priorities of Swedish development co-operation. Media is crucial
for further development towards democratic governance in Vietnam“.
    Sweden is the largest donor invited to
enter long term bilateral co-operation in this sector. Sweden has co-operated with Vietnam in the
area since the early 90s.
    The
co-operation started with support for provincial radio stations in Vietnam. Today
the co-operation includes all kinds of media: radio, television, newspaper and
Internet.
    “As society
here develops, there will be a greater demand by the public for openness of
information, the right to have their voices heard. Information is power, and
the more people who possess it, the more power is devolved”.

 


 


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