State visit reflects Ireland’s prioritisation of cooperation with VN hinh anh 1Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charles Flanagan (Photo: The Irish Times)

Dublin (VNA) – The upcoming State visit to Vietnam by Irish President Michael D. Higgins shows that Ireland prioritises cooperation with the Southeast Asian nation, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charles Flanagan said.

Flanagan made the remark during an interview with Vietnam News Agency ahead of the State visit, the first to Vietnam by President Higgins, from November 5-14.

The two countries have made strides in cooperation since their diplomatic relationship was set up on April 5, 1996. They have regularly exchanged high-ranking delegations and coordinated at international forums.

Bilateral trade reached 402 million USD in 2015, up 28 percent from the previous year. It hit 798 million USD in the first nine months of 2016, rising three-fold from same period last year, including 82 million USD of Vietnamese exports.

Vietnam mainly ships timber and wood products, footwear and garments to Ireland while importing medicine materials, computers and electronic components.

Ireland currently has 17 investment projects a combined capital of 20.7 million USD in Vietnam, ranking 67 th among 115 countries and territories investing here.

Vietnam is the only Asian nation among nine countries Ireland prioritises providing development assistance to. Ireland gave 150 million USD in non-refundable aid to Vietnam between 2007 and 2016, focusing on poverty reduction, support for vulnerable groups, and improving economic management.

In November 2011, Ireland announced a national strategy for the two countries’ development cooperation for 2011-2015 period that aimed to assist the realisation of the Vietnamese Government’s socio-economic development plan for the five years. The Irish Government is expected to reveal a similar national strategy for 2017-2020 soon.

Education – training is a highlight in bilateral relations. Ireland has granted more than 180 scholarships for Vietnam in recent years through the Irish Aid IDEAS Scholarships programme.

Defence cooperation is another focus of the two sides’ collaboration. A senior delegation of Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defence visited Ireland in April 2009, to collaborate in addressing post-war unexploded ordnance, Agent Orange consequences, and in search and rescue missions.

Ireland has also paid attention to agricultural ties with the Southeast Asian nation. In November 2014, Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine inked a memorandum of understanding on agricultural cooperation.

At a working session between ministers Nguyen Xuan Cuong and Andrew Doyle last September, Vietnam suggested cooperation with Ireland be bolstered in training on the management of modern agriculture, sharing experience in developing organic agriculture, building a food safety management system, origin tracing and promoting cooperation in cattle rearing.-VNA