Vietnam, Canada maintain positive momentum in bilateral relations hinh anh 1PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau (Photo: VNA)

Ottawa (VNA) - Braving the pandemic, Vietnam and Canada have worked to promote bilateral relations over the course of the last year, Vietnamese Ambassador to Canada Pham Cao Phong has affirmed.

In an interview with a Vietnam News Agency correspondent in Ottawa, Phong said that five phone discussions, online meetings, and political consultations were held between officials of both sides during the year, at which Canadian leaders spoke highly of their cooperation with Vietnam and its role as ASEAN Chair 2020.

Four Canadian ministers attended five online international conferences held by Vietnam, he said, noting that Canadian Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan expressed support for Vietnam and ASEAN’s efforts in maintaining peace and stability in the East Sea as well as Southeast Asia at a recent international conference on the East Sea.

The year 2020 also saw a milestone in bilateral ties with the establishment of the Canadian military attaché office in Hanoi, the ambassador said, adding that it also helps boost defence relations between the two countries.

Besides, Canada was the country of honour at the Vietnam FoodExpo which took place in Ho Chi Minh City in early December.

Phong affirmed that sound political ties have facilitated growth in trade, which rose 10.8 percent from January to October, with Vietnam’s exports up 15.3 percent to 5.1 billion USD and the country enjoying a trade surplus of 4.65 trillion USD.

The figures are impressive in the context of the global slowdown, he said, naming several products that have posted substantial revenue growth, such as electronic products and parts (up 64.6 percent), mobile phones (42.5 percent), processed seafood (23 percent), and furniture (13.6 percent).

Both sides have enhanced cooperation in the supply chain of essential items to cope with the pandemic. Made-in-Vietnam face masks are now on the shelves of many Canadian stores.

Ambassador Phong highlighted another remarkable event during the year, which was the Canadian Government’s announcement of a humanitarian assistance package of 700,000 CAD (over 500,000 USD) for residents hit by the recent floods in Vietnam’s central region. Canada also gave technical support to Vietnam to carry out the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

In a bid to create a driver for the Vietnam-Canada comprehensive partnership, Phong recommended officials from both sides continue their phone discussions and arrange visits to cement cooperative programmes and plans once the pandemic is fully under control.

It is also necessary to boost cooperation at the local level, especially between HCM City and its twin city Toronto, and between Quebec and Vietnamese ministries and sectors, he said.

Furthermore, he emphasised the significance of enhancing economic links between the two sides, given the complementary nature of the two economies and disruptions to supply chains.

The diplomat also said both sides need further coordination at international forums and to carry out measures to promote cooperation in tourism, education, healthcare, and culture.

Such measures, together with those to enhance political and economic ties, are important in cementing the comprehensive partnership set up three years ago and in marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2023.

The ambassador expressed optimism regarding the prospects for bilateral relations, believing that when the pandemic is controlled globally, Vietnam and Canada will see breakthroughs in relations that meet the expectations of the two peoples.

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Asia Pacific Foundation, Christine Nakamura, hailed the cooperation potential between the two countries, especially through the CPTPP.

Before the two signed on to the trade pact, they enjoyed stable growth in economic ties, she said, adding that the deal will bring even more benefits to both.

There are many cooperation opportunities with Vietnam, she said, which has been better at responding to the pandemic than other ASEAN member states and is expected to record positive GDP growth in 2021.

She suggested that healthcare services is a sector with potential for cooperation, since Vietnam will have a rapidly-aging population by 2050, when some 35 percent of people will be aged more than 60 years old.

Canadian companies will also be encouraged to engage in the Vietnamese market if the country welcomes technological innovation, she added./.