Interview with President Michel on his Vietnam visit: ‘Partnership a win-win affair’ |04 September 2013
The time when countries begged for help from others has long gone. We need partnership in this world and in any partnership it’s a win-win affair, President James Michel has said.
He was speaking to the local media at the end of his two-day state visit to Vietnam (August 28-29, 2013).
“Vietnam is an active member of Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) which represents an important economic force. Thus, Seychelles sees Vietnam, which is strategically located in eastern Asia, as a gateway to this region, while Vietnam sees Seychelles as a gateway to Africa,” said Mr Michel who added that Seychelles and Vietnam, who enjoy good relations, have gone through economic and political reforms over the years.
“Like Vietnam, Seychelles has adopted a market economy, positioning itself well to integrate the world economy. We have agreed to further push forward the positive, cooperative and comprehensive Seychelles-Vietnam relationship and this visit has given us the opportunity to put in place the right framework and through the memoranda of understanding signed we are now able to improve our collaboration with Vietnam,” added Mr Michel.
Invited by the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Truong Tan Sang, to undertake the state visit, President Michel noted that they have acknowledged the “true and sincere friendship” that exists between the two countries and have reaffirmed their commitment to opening a new phase of bilateral relations between the two nations based on a common vision, shared values, mutual respect, and common goals and interests.
“It was an historic visit and with the signing of five memoranda of understanding, it has helped us lay the foundation for future cooperation. More frequent high level exchanges will bring added impetus to both the political friendship and economic, social and cultural partnership developing between our two countries,” said Mr Michel.
The five MoUs are: MoU between the Seychelles Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Bilateral air services agreement between the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam and the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority; Twinning MoU between Victoria and Hanoi; MoU between the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI); and MoU between the Seychelles Tourism Academy and the Hanoi Tourism College.
The two countries have over the years established various frameworks to consolidate their ties of cooperation and these include the Technical Assistance Agreement signed in 1986 and the Economic, Cultural, Scientific and Technical Cooperation Agreement signed in August 2010.
And most recently, Seychelles and Vietnam have agreed to work towards creating new partnerships between them in areas including political and diplomatic relations, trade and investment, civil aviation, education and training, renewable energy and environment, agriculture, fisheries, oil exploration, culture, sports, and tourism.
“We have a lot to learn from countries with expertise in different fields. We should not think that we know too much. During the visit to the Vietnam Academy of Agriculture Sciences, we learned about the researches they have been doing over the last 60 years to have better yields. We can learn from them and see what kinds of crops we can plant here. We need to see how we can empower local farmers to produce more and of a high quality,” said President Michel who also planted a Dimorcarpus longan tree in the garden of the academy.
On the issue of blue economy, President Michel said that Seychelles champions the idea of a sustainable environment in the interest of all coastal countries like Vietnam which has a vast coastline, but also believes in developing its marine resources to the fullest. It is in this context that Seychelles has invited the Vietnamese government to attend the special track on the development of the blue economy during the Sustainability Week summit in Abu Dhabi in January 2014.
Talking about the Seychelles-Vietnam business forum held under the theme ‘Fostering Economic Partnerships’, Mr Michel said that through commerce the two countries stand to gain a lot from each other.
“Seychelles believes in partnership and partnership is a win-win affair. The time when countries begged for help from others has long gone. We need to come up with new strategies to attract investors. During the forum, Seychellois businesses showed what they can offer Vietnamese businesses. Vietnam manufactures cheaper and quality goods than what we are importing from elsewhere. We can also import agricultural products from Vietnam,” added Mr Michel who noted that the key to bilateral and commercial development is communication.
“This is why we have to work on air access between the two countries. It will help increase exchanges between the two business communities,” conclude Mr Michel.
President Michel’s state visit to Vietnam was the second undertaken by a Seychellois head of State to Vietnam in 33 years after former President France Albert Rene visited the eastern Asia country in 1980.
Mr Michel was part of the delegation then.
President Michel (left) and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung