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 of Control (later named 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 and a Trade Office in Ottawa, and a Consulate General in Vancouver.
Canada and Vietnam maintain good bilateral relations. In 2013, Canada and Vietnam celebrated the 40th anniversary of their bilateral relations and many activities took place to commemorate this important year. There is an active 220,000+ strong Vietnamese-Canadian community in Canada.
Canada’s relations with Vietnam are expanding, particularly through rapidly-increasing trade and investment and a prominent development assistance presence. In 2009, Vietnam was confirmed as one of Canada’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. Minister of International Trade Ed Fast visited Ho Chi Minh City in August 2012 and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird travelled to Vietnam in March 2013. Deputy Prime Minister Ninh visited Ottawa and Toronto in December 2013.
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.
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 2012, Canada hosted more than 3,400 students from Vietnam (for 6 months or more), an increase of 15.9% from 2011, making Vietnam Canada’s 12th largest source country for international students in Canada.
It is estimated that there are a large number of active agreements between Canadian and Vietnamese universities. Vietnam nationals are eligible to participate in a number of scholarship programs to study and conduct research in Canada including the Canadian Francophonie Scholarship Program, the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships program, Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and several programs offered by Mitacs.
In January 2014, Minister of International Trade Ed Fast launched the Canadian International Education Strategy designed to maintain and enhance Canada’s global position in higher education, and Vietnam is identified as a priority market. The comprehensive plan sets targets to attract more international researchers and students to Canada, deepen the research links between Canadian and foreign educational institutions and establish a pan-Canadian partnership with provinces and territories and all key education stakeholders, including the private sector.
Canada restored official development assistance to Vietnam in 1990 and until the end of 2012 has provided approximately $793 million in development assistance in support of Vietnam’s economic reform and poverty alleviation initiatives.
In 2009, as part of Canada's new aid effectiveness agenda, Vietnam was selected as a country of focus. Canada'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.
Canada’s efforts to build economic foundations are focussed on improving the accountability and capacity of public institutions, for example through support to reform in the State Bank of Vietnam, on helping to grow businesses by promoting entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises, and on investing in people by building quality skills for employment. Canada’s development assistance to Vietnam focuses on enhancing skills for employment by improving access to and management of the technical and vocational education system.
In food security, the aim of Canadian development assistance to Vietnam has been to improve food quality and safety, and to expand agricultural productivity, especially among the rural poor and women.
In 2013, Vietnam’s economy grew by 5.4%, 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 11% in 2012. 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 $2 billion in 2012. Merchandise imports from Vietnam were valued at $1.6 billion, while exports were worth nearly $370 million. Statistics Canada reports that the stock of Canadian direct investment in Vietnam was $51 million in 2012. 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). Furthermore, Vietnam has been identified as a priority market under the 2013 Canada’s Global Markets Action Plan.
Vietnam is committed to the long-term objective of global economic integration through participation in APEC, the ASEAN Free Trade Area and the WTO. Canada and Vietnam are two of the twelve members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.
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