Mr. Steven Joyce, New Zealand's Minister of Science and Innovation, spoke with VET during his visit to Vietnam with Prime Minister John Key on the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
With four agreements signed during the visit, what sectors are expected to bring the greatest economic benefit to both sides?
Trade between New Zealand and Vietnam has increased significantly over the last three years, reaching $2.2 billion in 2014. We are also happy to welcome the TPP, which is expected to present new opportunities to New Zealand and Vietnam to approach a market accounting for up to 50 per cent of global trade and 500 million consumers.
With sustainable cooperation between New Zealand and Vietnam I firmly believe bilateral ties will be strengthened and developed remarkably.
One of the aims of this visit is the signing of MoUs in aviation and education. These sectors are expected to bring the greatest economic benefit to both countries. The sound relationship between New Zealand and Vietnam is being enhanced.
What do you think about the growth rate of Vietnam’s aviation sector and the potential of others economic sectors?
Growth in Vietnam’s international passenger traffic is the third-fastest globally and projected to double in scale over the next five years in both commercial and civil aviation.
With such an impressive growth rate Vietnam will soon face a variety of matters such as infrastructure and aircraft investment and pilot and engineer training, to name just a few.
New Zealand will support this development through more effective air control processes, staff training, and aircraft maintenance technology. The collaborative relationship between Viet Flight Training (VFT) and the International Aviation Academy of New Zealand (IAANZ) has been in placed for 20 years and will be enhanced intensively.
The two countries are planning to open direct flights in June 2016, with three flights per week. This will encourage the exchange of culture and tourism, boost two-way trade, and attract more Vietnamese students to New Zealand.
Every year there are approximately 35,000 tourists from New Zealand visiting Vietnam. This number will significantly increase after the launch of the direct flights, as will the number of Vietnamese tourists visiting New Zealand. With higher incomes, more and more Vietnamese are visiting our country. Enterprises and entrepreneurs will have an easier task in seeking investment opportunities and business cooperation thanks to these flights.
We have seen many enterprises in the timber industry, information technology, and agriculture coming to cooperative arrangements.
New Zealand exports 80 per cent of its agriculture products worldwide and it will support Vietnam to increase the quality of its products. The TPP will certainly boost regional trade and the two countries will see greater cooperation as a result.
Overseas students are a key factor in strengthening bilateral cooperation because they have lived and studied in both countries.
What will New Zealand do to attract more Vietnamese students?
More and more universities and training institutions are building partnerships. Four universities now have associate programs in Vietnam.
One of the greatest achievements in educational cooperation is the newly-signed Strategic Engagement Plan.
In terms of aviation training, New Zealand has extensive experience in pilot and aviation maintenance technician training and training in air control technology. Many engineers working at the air traffic control centers in the north of Vietnam have studied in New Zealand. A number of carriers have training programs as well as scholarships to enhance the professionalism of Vietnamese pilots and engineers.
There are about 2,100 Vietnamese students studying in New Zealand, with a slight decrease being recorded in the last three years. The main reason is the change in preference from undergraduate studies to postgraduate studies. The exchange rate also used to be quite high but has now gone down by around 20 per cent.
New Zealand has about 110,000 international students and Vietnamese students are the second-highest in number, behind China, and the most among ASEAN students, mostly undertaking postgraduate programs.
The educational cooperation between two countries has brought many affiliated programs that allow students to study in both Vietnam and New Zealand. In addition to government scholarships, a handful of universities also offer scholarships to international students.