Vietnamese Ambassador to Israel Cao Tran Quoc Hai (Photo: VNA)

Tel Aviv (VNA) – The relationship between Vietnam and Israel is entering a “golden stage” as the two countries regard each other as reliable friends and partners and their economies have enjoyed good growth in recent years.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Israel Cao Tran Quoc Hai made the comments in an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency correspondents in Tel Aviv on bilateral cooperation on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of their diplomatic ties (1993-2018).

The diplomat said that despite geographic distance, Vietnam and Israel have recorded great achievements in various fields, including politics, economy, security, defence, trade, science-technology, training and tourism.

Political relations have been consolidated via the regular exchange of all-level delegations, especially the visits to Vietnam by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in 2017 and President Shimon Peres in 2011.

In terms of economy, Israel is now one of Vietnam’s leading economic partners in the Middle East region, with two-way trade reaching over 1 billion USD on average in recent three years, Hai said.

At present, Vietnam's staples like telephone, coffee, raw and processed cashew nuts, footwear and garment are making up a large market share in Israel (about 10-20 percent). Notably, the Southeast Asian nation is among the top three exporters of processed tuna products to Israel, he added.

Regarding education-training, the ambassador stated that Vietnam annually sends more than 700 apprentices to study and work in Israel, the highest number among the Middle East country’s sources of apprentices.

In addition, the Israeli provides hundreds of short-term scholarships for Vietnamese officials and experts to join training courses organised by Israel on startup, innovation, hi-tech agriculture, education, leadership and gender equality, contributing to developing high-quality human resources for Vietnam.

Many Vietnamese corporations and companies have imported high technologies from Israel to develop large-scale agricultural projects in Vietnam.  Among those are the project to grow safe vegetables in greenhouses in Vinh Phuc and other provinces by VinEco Company, a subsidiary of Vingroup, and the milk cow farming project by TH True Milk in Nghe An province. Can Tho city, and An Giang, Kien Giang and Dong Thap provinces are applying Israeli technologies in producing breeding tilapia and shrimp.

Tourism cooperation between the two countries has seen encouraging growth over years. In 2017, Israeli tourists to Vietnam numbered 25,000. Vietnam is increasingly becoming a favourite destination for Israeli holidaymakers thanks to its beautiful landscapes, delicious food and people’s hospitality.

Bilateral cooperation mechanisms such as the Inter-Government Committee and the Political Consultation have been implemented regularly and effectively, playing an important role in reviewing and promoting collaboration between Vietnam and Israel.

However, Ambassador Hai noted that two-way trade in recent years has not yet matched potential and relations of the countries.

In order to raise bilateral trade to 3 billion USD in the years to come, along with speeding up the negotiation for a Vietnam-Israel Free Trade Agreement, the two sides should increase investment and trade promotion activities as well as continue encouraging and creating favourable conditions for businesses to make investments in both Vietnam and Israel, he said.

Israel has huge demand for foreign labour, especially in the fields of agriculture, health and construction, while Vietnam boasts abundant, hardworking and well-trained human resources.

The two nations should soon kick off negotiations for a bilateral labour cooperation agreement in order to enable Vietnamese workers to work in Israel’s agricultural sector.

In addition, Vietnam and Israel may consider opening a direct air route, thus facilitating the travel of businesspeople and tourists, he added.

According to Hai, during President Reuven Rivlin’s visit to Vietnam in March 2017, the two countries’ leaders agreed to make economy and science-technology priorities in bilateral cooperation currently and in following years.

Entering the era of Industry 4.0, scientific and technological cooperation will become more necessary, with huge potential. The two nations can cooperate in areas of Vietnam’s demand and Israel’s strengths like hi-tech agriculture, state management, education-training, telecommunications, cyber security, smart city building and startup ecology development.

The ambassador stressed that 25 years marked important milestones in the friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and Israel. However, all the above-mentioned achievements are just initial steps.

He expressed his belief that the bilateral collaboration will be further consolidated and developed in all aspects, gaining more effective and practical achievements for the benefits of the two countries’ people.-VNA