Could you describe salient features of the relationship between Vietnam and Germany?
The relationship is close and manifold. We have many different actors in and around Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). For example, it is possible to follow German standard education throughout – from kindergarten to studying at the Vietnamese German University. There are over 300 German companies in Vietnam and many German institutions. In 2020, the year of celebrating the 45th aniversary of diplomatic relations, we made all these different aspects of Germany visible to the public through the “A piece of Germany – Mảnh ghép nước Đức” campaign. The campaign has a joint logo supported by all German institutions in Ho Chi Minh City, which stands for high quality in products and services, high social and environmental standards and long-term investment in society. We hope you will see this logo everywhere in the country, more and more often.
The EVFTA took effect on August 1, 2020. How do you see this agreement impacting bilateral cooperation?
The reduction of tariffs and import taxes in both directions as a result of the EVFTA will be a major step forward for enterprises and companies. Consumers in Vietnam and in Europe will have the choice of a wider range of products at competitive prices. So everyone will benefit from the EVFTA – consumers from less costly products and companies from lower export costs.
In this context, what are some of the key industries likely to capture German investor interest in the coming years? The interest in Vietnam is wide ranging and you can see it from the very different companies and institutions in the Deutsches Haus. Two main investment fields would be infrastructure and education. There is great German interest in supporting Vietnam to upgrade its infrastructure. I already see cooperation in the energy sector. Germany is also co-financing Metro line No. 2 in HCMC. During my time here, I would really like to see real progress in this aspect as I believe attractive public transport is the only solution to the worsening traffic congestion and air pollution in the city.
Education has been a major focus of bilateral cooperation. Could you share some of its highlights?
One fact that makes me proud is that in HCMC and surrounding provinces you have the access to education according to German standards. There is a growing International German School (IGS). At the same time, students in public schools are now able to learn German as a first or second foreign language. After that, those who are interested can get vocational training of German standards at the Lilama 2 College and later find a job with German companies. Those who want to follow the academic path can study at the Vietnamese German University (VGU), which provides different bachelor and masters programs. VGU students also get the chance to spend an exchange semester in Germany.
|Dr. Josefine Wallat (left), German Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, meets with Mr. Vo Van Hoan (the middle), Vice Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, at the event “A Piece Of Germany” on November 28, 2020 in Ho Chi Minh City|
Could you briefly explain major provisions of Germany’s new labor immigration law and its implications for Vietnamese skilled workers, in particular?
The new Skilled Immigration Act which came into force on March 1, 2020 allows applicants who have completed vocational training in their home countries to immigrate to Germany for employment. Applicants whose vocational training does not fully reach the required standards may apply for a visa in order to travel to Germany to complete their training there. Applicants should not trust rumors and information from discussion forums or social media and take care to obtain their information from official websites such as https://www.make-it-in-germany.vn/ and the website of the German Missions in Vietnam, https://vietnam.diplo.de/, both of which are available in Vietnamese language.
In 2020, Vietnam was the ASEAN Chair and Germany took over the rotating presidency of the EU in the last six months. What can both countries do in fostering Asia-Europe connections and cooperation, particularly in response to the Covid-19 pandemic?
Last year was difficult for everyone. We had so much loss and suffering because of the Covid-19 pandemic. As one of the countries succeeding in containing Covid-19, Vietnam plays a very important role as an example for other countries to follow. As president of the EU-Council and Chair of ASEAN last year, Germany and Vietnam have shared and learned from each other’s experiences, created mutual policies and worked together to fight the pandemic and keep the economy stable.
It is consistently said that people-to-people links and cultural exchanges are good channels to boost mutual understanding. Could you tell us how this is being fostered in general and by your office in particular?
I believe that direct contacts between people and a personal experience of other countries’ culture are the best way to build mutual understanding. This is what our cultural institution, the Goethe Institute, promotes regularly by organizing diverse cultural programs like German concerts, musicals, film festivals and other events. I am also proud that we have the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) here in Vietnam. The DAAD supports the exchange of students and university teachers through scholarships and provides funding for research and seminars. The German government also funds the secondment of German teachers to Vietnamese partner schools to teach German. Especially, in 2020, as we celebrated the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Germany, we successfully organized a family festival called “A piece of Germany” on November 28, 2020. The festival attracted many German and Vietnamese families in HCMC. It was a fun-packed event for all age groups with a bit of Christmassy atmosphere. I hope that through such cultural events, people from both countries will gain a deeper understanding of each other.
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