Hanoi (VNA) – A press conference took place in Hanoi on January 11 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Sweden (January 11, 1969-2019).

Speaking at the event, Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Pereric Hogberg stated that Vietnam is sure to continue its socio-economic success story, and that Sweden has remained a close friend of Vietnam in the past, today, and will continue to be in the future.

He stressed that Sweden has been a friend and partner of Vietnam for over half a century, even when the Southeast Asian country was enduring its hardest times.  

According to him, on January 11, 1969, when the war was at its peak in Vietnam, Sweden was the first western nation to establish diplomatic relations with the country. Swedish official development assistance for Vietnam lasted for 46 years and amounted to more than 4 billion USD. Sweden was Vietnam’s second biggest ODA donor in the 1970s, the biggest in the 1980s, and the fourth biggest in the 1990s.

Bilateral cooperation has been focused on the sectors of health, paper production, afforestation, and administrative reform regarding taxation and law, with popular projects including the Uong Bi hospital, the Vietnam National Children’s Hospital, and the Bai Bang paper plant.

Sweden has also assisted Vietnam’s Doi Moi (reform) process and poverty alleviation. The country continues its support for Vietnam via its regional aid programmes for Mekong sub-region countries and other funding within the EU and UN frameworks targeting Vietnam.

The diplomat stated the Vietnam-Sweden partnership is shared between their governments and peoples. Over the years, the two exchanged thousands of people working and living in their respective countries. In 2017, more than 50,000 Swedish tourists made trips to Vietnam.

He said that as Vietnam becomes a middle-income economy, the bilateral partnership is moving toward a more balanced state with a focus on business and trade.

The ties are growing across trade-investment, research exchange, education, culture, and tourism, with two-way trade exceeding 1 billion USD on an annual basis and projected to rise even further. Sweden’s popular firms like ABB, Eriksson, H&M, IKEA, Volvo, AstraZeneca, Atlas Copco, SKP, Tetra Pak, and Electrolux have all operated in Vietnam. With the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement ratified, Swedish presence in Vietnam will no doubt increase.

Hogberg said 2019 will see bilateral high-level visits, cultural exchanges, an internet forum, and the Vietnam-Sweden business summit taking place.

He said he believes the two nations’ friendship will grow, particularly in trade, science, culture, and civil society development.

Dinh Toan Thang, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of European Affairs, highlighted the period of half a century that Vietnam and Sweden have made their way through together.

Vietnam appreciates Sweden’s spiritual and financial assistance during its struggle for independence and later national construction period, he affirmed.

He said the ties are sustained in the new context based on their common goals toward sustainable development and a world of peace and cooperation.

Thang pointed to sectors that both sides are interested in, including trade-investment, heath care, education, transport, information-telecomunication, and environmental protection.

He stated the celebration of the 50-year-old ties this year will open up new prospects for both nations and boost mutual understanding among their peoples. –VNA