New Zealand Prime Minister John Key (Source: New Zealand Embassy)
Hanoi (VNA) - Vietnam is already New Zealand’s fastest-growing export market in South East Asia, with two-way trade now worth over 1 billion NZD a year, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said.

In an exclusive interview to the Vietnam News Agency ahead of his visit to Vietnam from November 14-17, he said the two countries are working hard to double the figure by 2020.

Following is the interview.

Reporter: During Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to New Zealand in March 2015, the leaders of the two countries have both agreed to intensify the bilateral comprehensive partnership, with a vision to lifting their ties to a strategic partnership. Could you please provide details on how that vision is realised during your coming visit to Vietnam? 

Prime Minister: New Zealand and Viet Nam share a growing and mutually beneficial relationship and this visit provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate and grow that. 

Vietnam is already New Zealand’s fastest-growing export market in South East Asia, with two-way trade now worth over 1 billion NZD a year. During Prime Minister Dung’s visit to New Zealand in March we committed to doubling that by 2020 and both sides are working hard to achieve that. 

In March we also agreed to work more closely together in areas such as aviation and education and these are key areas which both countries have focused on ahead of this visit. 

And as a sign of our commitment and belief in the opportunities available, there are 13 representatives of our education and aviation industry travelling with me to Vietnam.

New Zealand has a lot to offer Vietnam and its people and this visit will be an opportunity to further explore new trade and investment opportunities in areas such as aviation and education sectors which offer huge potential to both countries. 

Reporter: Two-way trade turnover between Vietnam and New Zealand saw a steady increase annually for the recent years, reaching close to 800 million USD in 2014. The figure is set to hit 1 billion USD in 2015 and up to 1.7 billion USD in 2020. With the recent finalisation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks in which Vietnam and New Zealand are negotiating parties, what is your assessment on the effects that TPP may bring to the trade cooperation between the two countries, especially in agriculture, energy, human resources development, etc? 

Prime Minister: TPP adds to the existing ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA by eliminating more tariffs, ensuring significantly better services market access, and by providing new commitments on investment and access to government procurement opportunities in Vietnam.

The TPP will only boost the economic links between our countries for the benefit of New Zealanders and Vietnamese alike. 

Reporter: You have suggested a new cooperation initiative - ‘Inter-governmental trade partnership’ - to create opportunities for Vietnam to access the New Zealand Government’s world class intellectual property. What is the roadmap to put this interesting idea into practice? 

Prime Minister: As a small but innovative country, New Zealand has decades of experimentation in key areas of public policy and many of the solutions we have developed have been world leading. 

Much of what we have learned and developed can be applied elsewhere . 

Through the Government to Government KnowHow programme, New Zealand shares its specialist knowledge and intellectual property in areas like agriculture, food safety, health, education and fisheries on a commercial basis. 

There is already some of that work underway in Vietnam with representatives of that programme holding a one-day seminar in Hanoi recently on building sustainable food value chains. This was followed up with a couple of days of business meetings, which I understand have been very productive. 

Reporter: Vietnam and New Zealand have usually exchanged views, consulted and coordinated policies, and supported each other to solve regional and global issues of mutual concern, promoted the effectiveness of the cooperation mechanism at regional and international forums. So what is your own opinion and New Zealand government’s viewpoint on a solution for territorial claims in the East Sea (internationally known as South China Sea)?

Prime Minister: New Zealand does not take a position on the various claims in the South China Sea, but we do have a direct interest in how tensions are managed - we oppose actions that erode peace and trust. 

As a maritime nation, international law and freedom of navigation are important to New Zealand and we call on all parties in the South China Sea to manage disputes in accordance with international law. 

We would like to see full implementation of the ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct and the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct to help manage tensions. I’m sure this will be one of the issues discussed at the East Asia Summit next week.-VNA