Even though there are differences between the two systems, the two sides will find plenty of common ground, which hopefully will lead to closer cooperation and dialogue in bilateral parliamentary relations, Mr. Morris, who is also former British Ambassador to Vietnam, told Vietnam News Agency ahead of Hue's official visit to the U.K. from June 28 – 30.
Mr. Morris spoke highly of the Vietnam-U.K. relations, saying the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic ties next year is a fine milestone.
The bilateral relationship has broadened and deepened enormously during the two decades since 2003 when Vietnam and the U.K. celebrated the 30th anniversary and he served as the British Ambassador to the Southeast Asian country, he recalled.
The recent renewal after an initial 10 years of the two countries' Strategic Partnership was a clear indication of a healthy and vibrant official relationship, as was the signing of a bilateral Free Trade Agreement in late 2020, which is already leading to a welcome increase in trade in both directions, he said.
The VUKN Chairman said education links are getting stronger, while cooperation is growing in several important sectors, notably in health care, renewable energy, environment, agriculture and technology, among others. He also said he believes British tourists will soon be flooding back to Vietnam following the welcome lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.
As for links between parliamentarians, Mr. Morris said these were starting to be developed when COVID-19 intervened. However, he said both sides are keen to take matters forward and have more exchanges, recalling a very positive initial virtual meeting between several parliamentarians from both countries in October 2020. The lead on the U.K. side was the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Vietnam, currently chaired by Mr. Wayne David.
He went on to welcome Hue's upcoming visit, saying the resumption of such high-level people-to-people exchanges is vital to the strengthening of relations generally.
According to Mr. Morris, the VUKN, as a not-for-profit organization run by volunteers, continues its efforts to strengthen bilateral links across a wide range of sectors. In doing so, it supports and adds value to the official relationship, including introducing more British people to Vietnam, highlighting opportunities for trade and investment, and encouraging links in sectors such as education, energy, the environment, and welfare.
During the COVID-19 lockdowns in the U.K., the VUKN held a series of very well attended virtual events for its followers, including participation by ministers, sector experts, and the two countries’ ambassadors. In May, the VUKN chairman chaired a panel discussion on business opportunities held at the time of Joint Economic and Trade Cooperation Talks (JETCO), in which ministers and several VUKN followers took part.
The VUKN is an umbrella group bringing together organizations and individuals with shared interests in Vietnam to promote Vietnam-U.K cooperation across the broad spectrum of the bilateral relationship, including trade, education, trade unions, young professional and cultural activities, to enhance understanding and friendship between citizens and institutions.
The network was inaugurated in January 2013 during the historic visit of General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Nguyen Phu Trong to the U.K.
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