General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit the UK on the 40th anniversary of Vietnam-UK diplomatic relations, the first formal one by a General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, signals a sign of a relationship that is getting stronger by the year.

On the occasion of General Secretary Trong’s visit, Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire has granted an interview to the Vietnam News Agency.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: Could you tell us the significance of this visit and how you see the strategic partnership developing?

This will be the first time a General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam has formally visited the UK , so it is very significant to us and a sign of a relationship that is getting stronger by the year. It is also interesting to see that it takes place exactly one hundred years after Ho Chi Minh came here.

The Strategic Partnership agreement we signed in 2010 has boosted the range and depth of our political co-operation, and trade between our countries is up 26 percent to 4 billion USD per year.

There is no doubt that as we approach the fortieth anniversary of diplomatic relations this year we are in a better place than ever.

Last April Foreign Secretary William Hague's trip to Vietnam became the first of its kind in seventeen years and in November, I had the pleasure of hosting trade talks with the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Ho Thi Kim Thoa.

But I think it's just as important that contact between ordinary people is growing. There are now 8,000 Vietnamese students studying in the UK each year.

Q: What do you think the UK would like to achieve in its relations with Vietnam and what could the UK offer it?

Vietnam is a dynamic country, with enviable rates of growth, and we want you to see the UK as a friend and a leading partner in achieving more.

The UK is a world leader in precisely the goods, services and expertise that a growing country needs, be that large-scale transport infrastructure for growing cities, or financial services for growing companies, some of which are reaching out into global markets for the first time.

Access to British standards of education is also a must for an ambitious, young population and we are delighted to be launching the UK-Vietnam international standard university in Da Nang this year.

On trade we are also doing well, but we can always do better. We both want trade to increase but we need to work hard to break down barriers if we are to meet our targets.

The UK has a team of trade officers in both Hanoi and HCM City to help UK companies looking to establish or expand their presence in Vietnam but market access issues and bureaucracy remain a concern and I hope we can resolve these in the coming year so that Vietnam can attract the investment it needs.

Q: Could you elaborate on your vision of a greater role and position of the UK in Southeast Asia ?

It's true that we are setting our country firmly on the path to far closer ties with countries across Asia over the next twenty years and on a completely new footing from the past.

We understand the immense potential of a peaceful and stable ASEAN made up of thriving and open economies and we welcome the prospect of a rich and strong ASEAN with an equally strong and growing role in world affairs.

Our openness has benefitted our economy, and we welcome growing Asian investment in our country - we want Britain to be a gateway for Asian business investing in Europe .

Q: Vietnam highly appreciated the UK position on the situation in the East Sea . What do you think the UK could do further to ensure peace in Southeast Asia and in the East Sea in particular?

Our growing relationship with Asia, including our relationship with Vietnam , reflects the reality of a world in which our security is increasingly indivisible. We are active on a number of fronts and co-operate constantly with countries in Southeast Asia on global counter-terrorism threats, helping to disrupt and deter terrorist activities.

We will continue to work on maritime security, tackling piracy from the Malacca Straits to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, just as we will continue to call on all parties to respect international norms in the East Sea and work to resolve disputes peacefully.

Last year, we held the first high-level inter-governmental conference on threats and opportunities in cyberspace – of particular interest to ASEAN countries where the internet is so popular and such a driver of economic growth./.VNA