The Hanoitimes - Vietnam has been Canada’s trading partner in the ASEAN region since 2015. "We expect that, with CPTPP, that trend will continue, it will allow more bilateral trade and investment," said Canadian Ambassador Deborah Paul.
Newly-appointed Canadian Ambassador to Vietnam Deborah Paul has shared her thoughts with Hanoitimes and several reporters about the priorities during her office term here and the room to grow multifaceted bilateral relations.
Congratulations on your appointment as new Canadian Ambassador to Vietnam. What are your priorities during your office term in this country?
I am very fortunate to arrive at a time when relations between Vietnam and Canada are really on a positive trajectory. We have had very high level visits in recent years. For example, Prime Minister Trudeau came to Vietnam in 2017, Prime Minister Phuc was invited to the G20 Outreach Meeting in Canada in June, in addition to ministers’ visits and we hope we’ll have many more.
When Prime Minister Trudeau was here in 2017, Canada and Vietnam also announced a Comprehensive Partnership Agreement, which allows us to expand our relations with our long-standing trade, economic relations, and very strong people-to-people relations. There are some 250,000 Canadians of Vietnamese origin who really enrich our society and make great contributions to Canada.
Through the partnership agreement, we’re also expanding military-to-military ties, education. Vietnam is actually the fifth largest source country for international students in Canada. In all those areas, I want to build on that success.
When we say “comprehensive”, our relationship is really “comprehensive”, ranging from politics, economy, military ties to education, people-to-people relations.
What are the highlights of the Vietnam-Canada relations over the past 45 years?
Canadian Ambassador to Vietnam Deborah Paul. Photo: Minh Tuan
The first highlight I can mention is the growth in our trade relations. Vietnam is Canada’s largest trading partner in the ASEAN region, with bilateral trade reaching US$6 billion a year. With the CPTPP, our trade is set to grow even further.
The second one is the people-to-people ties, evidenced by the large community of Canadians of Vietnamese origin and Vietnamese students there.
What is the potential for military-to-military cooperation between the two countries?
Our defense relations with Vietnam are very positive and growing. Our Minister of Defense was here in June. Canada and Vietnam have signed a memorandum of understanding that allows Vietnam to participate in Canada’s MTCP (Military Training Cooperation Program). That opens up opportunities for the Vietnamese troops to participate in training, including peacekeeping-related training, so Canada can help with capacity building.
We have had a very successful ship visit here in September. That helps to build friendly relations between Canada and Vietnam. We hope to have more regular ship visits.
What is your opinion about the challenges and opportunities from the CPTPP for the two countries?
Vietnam and Canada have both recently ratified the CPTPP, which provides opportunities for us to expand relations. I want to congratulate Vietnam on ratifying the agreement.
The CPTPP is a great opportunity for both Canada and Vietnam to expand our trade and investment relations. The recent passage of this agreement by the Vietnamese National Assembly makes Canada and Vietnam among the first members of the CPTPP to ratify the agreement. It will make trade easier, particularly for Canadian seafood and agri-food products.
In the case of beef, which is now subject to tariffs of up to 31% and those would be eliminated in the next two years. In the case of fish and seafood, the current tariffs are about 34% and will be removed immediately. Meanwhile, in the case of apples and cherries, the tariffs are 20% and they will be eliminated within the next one to two years. That will make our agri-food more accessible and affordable to Vietnamese consumers.
We have relatively cold temperature in Canada, which means that we are able to grow fruit with less pesticide. Canada also has very a good record of sustainability, so we produce healthy food in an environmentally sustainable way.
What are the chances for Vietnamese food to penetrate the Canadian market?
Canadian Ambassador to Vietnam Deborah Paul. Photo: Minh Tuan
The great thing is that the Vietnamese and Canadian economies are quite complementary. The kinds of agri-food and seafood products that Canada produces are those that Vietnam either doesn’t produce or doesn’t produce enough to meet the demand, such as beef, wheat and freshwater seafood.
Vietnam has competitive advantage in terms of labor-intensive processing, so we expect already strong exports by Vietnam, such as fish fillet and shrimp to grow. Canadians also enjoy tropical products that we can’t grow but Vietnam can, for example, coffee, cashew nuts, and lychee, which are very popular foods in Canada.
What is the prospect for Vietnam-Canada trade?
Vietnam has been Canada’s trading partner in the ASEAN region since 2015, so trade has really expanded quite fast in the last several years. We expect that, with CPTPP, that trend will continue, it will allow more bilateral trade and investment.
Some of the tariffs on agri-food and seafood products will be eliminated either immediately or over the next few years. Canada is also pursuing other opportunities in this market, including ICT, aerospace, infrastructure, wood and forestry products. I think there is a lot of potential.
Thank you very much, Ambassador!
On the occasion of the 45th anniversary of establishment of the Vietnam-Canada diplomatic ties, the Canadian embassy held the annual event titled “The Canadian Delicacies Gala”. The gala was one of the highlights in a series of events celebrating the 45th anniversary of Canada - Vietnam diplomatic relations. The event showcased Canadian delicacies that are available in Vietnam, including Triple A Alberta beef, a diverse selection of fish and seafood from coastal waters to world famous lobster. Complimenting these staples was a wide array of Canadian wine, craft beer, maple syrup, and fresh apples.
According to Ambassador Deborah Paul, the event is to feature the best of the Canadian food and beverages. This year has a special meaning because it is part of a series of events to “celebrate this great friendship.”
Canadian beef at the Canadian Delicacies Gala 2018 in Hanoi. Photo: Minh Tuan