Canada established diplomatic relations with Vietnam in 1973, opening an Embassy in Hanoi in 1994 and a Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City in 1997. Canada was a member of the International Commission for Supervision and Control for almost 20 years, after the cessation of Vietnam’s hostilities with France in 1954.
In Canada, Vietnam is represented by the Embassy of Vietnam in Ottawa. Vietnam also intends to open a Consulate General in Vancouver shortly.
Canada and Vietnam maintain excellent bilateral relations. In 2013, Canada and Vietnam will celebrate the 40th anniversary of their bilateral relations.
Canada’s relations with Vietnam are expanding, particularly through rapidly-increasing trade and investment and a prominent CIDA presence. In 2009, Vietnam was confirmed as one of CIDA’s 20 countries of focus. High-level political engagement has also increased in the past years. Prime Minister Harper visited Hanoi during APEC in 2006, while the first-ever visit to Canada by a Vietnamese Prime Minister was in June 2005. Former Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Khiem made an official visit to Canada in September 2009. Prime Minister Dung visited in June 2010 to attend the G20 meeting in Toronto as Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon travelled to Hanoi in July 2010 to attend the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference and the ASEAN Regional. Governor General David Johnston visited Vietnam as part his State visit to Southeast Asia in November 2011.
Canada and Vietnam share membership in multiple multilateral forums, including ASEAN, in which Canada is a Dialogue Partner; Vietnam was Canada’s Coordinating Country for 2006-09. Canada and Vietnam are also members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Francophonie and the United Nations.
There is an active 180,000-strong Vietnamese-Canadian community in Canada. Several trade, cultural and charity delegations to Vietnam have been organized with Vietnamese-Canadian involvement.
In early 2007, Canada’s Embassy and Consulate General launched a national education campaign to increase the number of Vietnamese students selecting Canada as their top choice for an international education. In 2011, the immigration section located in the Consulate General received 6240 temporary resident visa applications, 1985 study permit applications and 191 temporary workers.
In 2011, more than 3,000 students from Vietnam were studying in Canada. Of the 3,000, 1,000 new students arrived that year. That’s four times more than the study permits issued in 2007. Vietnam is now the 16th source country for international students in Canada.
It is estimated that there are currently more than 50 active agreements between Canadian and Vietnamese universities. Vietnam nationals are eligible to participate in the Canadian Francophonie Scholarship Program managed by CIDA, which assists developing countries of the Francophonie to strengthen institutional capabilities in priority areas.
On August 14, 2012, Minister of International Trade Fast released the final report of the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy (IES). The report recommends focusing on growth markets, including Vietnam. The government will review the Advisory Panel’s recommendations, prior to a formal response and implementation plan for Canada’s IES.
Canada restored official development assistance to Vietnam in 1990 and has since provided approximately $770 million in development assistance through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in support of Vietnam’s economic reform and poverty alleviation initiatives (Source: CIDA’s Chief Financial Officer Branch, Disbursements from 1990-1991 until 2011-2012).
In 2009, as part of Canada's new aid effectiveness agenda, Vietnam was selected by CIDA as a country of focus. CIDA's current programming responds to the Government of Vietnam's poverty reduction priorities and focuses on improving the enabling environment for investment and on supporting rural enterprise development and agricultural productivity.
CIDA focuses on increasing agricultural productivity, especially at the provincial level, by supporting technical assistance and other services to farmers and government agencies in order to improve production and harvesting techniques, food safety, and quality.
CIDA focuses on supporting legal and policy reforms, as well as institutional changes needed for market-driven growth, and on strengthening rural small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) development. CIDA also focuses on enhancing skills for employment by improving access to and management of the technical and vocational education system.
In 2011, Vietnam’s economy grew by nearly 6%, continuing a decade of high and steady growth. Extensive reforms (called “Doi Moi” or renewal) began in 1986, leading to substantial economic and social changes. Vietnam has made tremendous progress in reducing poverty, from 58% in 1993 to approximately 10% in 2010. In recent years, Vietnam has been making considerable efforts to increase its engagement on the world stage, seeking friendly relations with all countries.
Bilateral merchandise trade with Vietnam has increased steadily over the past decade, and is now more than four times greater than it was in 2000. Canada-Vietnam bilateral trade reached an all-time high of nearly $1.6 billion in 2011. Merchandise imports from Vietnam were valued at $1.3 billion, while exports were worth nearly $300 million. Statistics Canada reports that the stock of Canadian direct investment in Vietnam was $89 million at the end of 2010. Canadian companies have found opportunities in Vietnam in a variety of sectors including: Agriculture and Agri-Food, Education and Training, Forest Industries, Oil & Gas as well as Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
Vietnam is committed to the long-term objective of global economic integration through participation in APEC, the ASEAN Free Trade Area and the WTO. Vietnam is a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, which Canada and Mexico are expected to join in fall 2012. Canada and Vietnam are currently in bilateral negotiations toward a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).
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