President Rivlin attends economic conference, defense forum in Vietnam
(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)
President Reuven Rivlin today (Tuesday) continued his state visit to Vietnam, by opening an economic conference – the largest of its kind for a number of years – in Vietnam. The President was joined at the conference by a delegation of business leaders from Israel, lead by Shraga Brosh, President of the Israeli Manufacturers Association, and initiated in partnership with the International Trade department at the Ministry of Economy. Later, President Rivlin attended a defense forum, together with the Minister of Defense of Vietnam.
At the economic conference in Hanoi, President of the Israeli Manufacturers Association, Mr. Brosh, said, “I want to thank the President for inviting us to be part of his visit to Vietnam, and for the importance he places in international economic cooperation. This is an important moment in our economic relationship with Vietnam. Five years ago, we visited here with President Peres, and since then we have expanded our cooperation. I am certain that this visit too will have a similar impact and that we will double our achievements in the coming five years. During the global economic crisis of 2008, we understood that we did not have enough cooperation with Eastern countries, and that we had to invest in and pay great attention to many countries in Asia, South America, and Africa. The economy in Asia is great, and Israel is making progress in these countries, in strengthening out diplomatic and economic relations. We want to be part of Vietnam’s global progress, and I am sure that our two countries will benefit from this.”
Vietnam, whose economy shows signs of stable growth of 7% annually, with the support of significant foreign investment, has become a central player in the global supply chain, and accordingly has seen a significant growth in its middle class. The country which has a population of 95 million, is undergoing improvement in infrastructure, a transition from an economy based in agriculture to one of technology, and similarly reforms that are leading to more environmentally friendly growth.
During the President’s visit, there will be the signing of an joint industrial R&D agreement. The Israeli Office of the Chief Scientist is due to sign an R&D agreement with the Vietnamese National Technology Innovation Fund. The agreement is the result of the work of the Economy Ministry trade envoy to Vietnam. “We must sign a free trade agreement, and we will be happy to see more Vietnamese companies and funds investing in joint projects,” said President Rivlin, “We have come here today with a unique delegation of leaders from all fields of Israeli industry and business, to send out a strong message: this is the time for Vietnam. The Vietnamese market economy has great potential. And I am proud that trade between Israel and Vietnam has increased significantly over the past few years. Our commercial partnerships include today a growing variety of goods and knowledge: From water treatment to dairy industry; from defense to cyber; from medical device to education; from optics to fertilizers. It is clear that there is so much more we can do.”
He continued, “If we cooperate in agriculture, if we use Israeli technology to improve Vietnamese production, we can ensure food security for millions of people around the world. I would like to see more Vietnamese companies and funds investing in Israeli starts ups. We are here to grow our economies together, in the field of research and development. Together. I have no doubt that the MOUs, along with the Free Trade Agreement we are working on, will allow us to combine the advantages of both our countries, --- and will help us in creating a better future for the next generations.”
According to statistics from the Israeli Economy Ministry, Israeli exports to Vietnam are growing quickly, and stood in 2015 at around 1.8 billion USD, while exports in the opposite direction stood at around 600 million USD – a figure which has gown around 15% over the last four years – with around have of that amount coming from electronic devices. Other leading areas of trade are textiles, food produce and agriculture. The potential for Israeli exports to Vietnam in the coming years is expected to be focused on advances in agriculture, and communications and medical equipment.
The President went on to participate in the signing ceremony of an MOU for Israeli-Vietnamese cooperation, in the fields of electricity, health, and community development.
Later, President Rivlin met with Vietnamese Minister of Defense Ngô Xuân Lịch, after which both he and the Minister toured an exhibition of Israeli defense products on display in Hanoi. Also participating in the tour, was the delegation of senior Israeli defense industry figures who accompanied the President on his visit, led by Director General of the International Defense Cooperation Directorate of the Israel Ministry of Defense Brig. Gen. (res.) Michel Ben-Baruch.
During their tour, a number of companies presented the President and Minister of Defense with developments and advancements including in: unmanned planes and drones, models of upgraded tanks, rocket launchers, search and rescue, and more. Among the Israeli companies represented were Israel Military Industries, Albit, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Verint, TSG, Netline, SK, IAI, and Aeronautics Defense Systems.
President Rivlin said, “Mr. Minister, you and I were raised in countries which were battle fields, we all know that quiet, security, and peace cannot be taken for granted. Very often, for the sake of economic, social, cultural, and educational prosperity, we need to stand guard, and ensure the ability of the military, the ability which defends all that we seek in life. The military and security forces have a role, not just in times of war, but also in times of peace.”
He continued, “In the Twenty-First Century, it is clear to all that the term ‘defense’ is very wide. Security cooperation can include many fields. Israel aspires to expand and widen our security cooperation between our countries. Over the past years, much has been achieved, we have exchanged and stationed military attaches in each of our embassies. The State of Israel is a pioneer in that it recognizes the need to establish advance production lines with Israeli know-how in Vietnam, and to produce with Vietnam and in Vietnam.”
The President added, “Much has been done. But there is still much more that can and need be done in the security interaction between Israel and Vietnam. The existing projects between our industries and between the companies, and the government in Vietnam are just the tip of the iceberg of the potential cooperation between our companies. Mr. Minister, you have recognized the standard of the Israeli system, and quality of the know-how it carries. Israel is a small country, but a power of advanced technological innovation, we are a space power, and have developed advanced defense capabilities, and we have come here today to declare that we see in Vietnam a good friend, with whom we want to cooperate.”
The Vietnamese Defense Minister said, “I want to thank you all for participating in our defense forum. In the name of the Ministry of Defense of Vietnam, I want to express our appreciation for the extensive and excellent cooperation in the field of defense. Israel and Vietnam have good relations, something which opens the opportunity for further partnership, and to our ability to create the appropriate atmosphere for our companies in different industries, and especially the defense industry. I believe this event today, will create the opportunities to forge cooperation between our societies; the ability to meet and understand each other’s needs, and to share knowledge and information to strengthen each other, so that they are able to create solutions for the future, and to provide more employment. Our Defense Ministry will create the right conditions for the defense industry and companies so they can work with better conditions.
Earlier in the day, President Rivlin paid his respects and lay a wreath at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.