New PM will further strengthen cooperation with Vietnam: UK ambassador

By Nguyen Tien   October 26, 2022 | 03:37 pm PT
New PM will further strengthen cooperation with Vietnam: UK ambassador
British ambassador to Vietnam Iain Frew in Hanoi, October 25, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Despite "rapid political developments" in the U.K., there will be consistency in the policy to bolster cooperation with Vietnam, says British ambassador Iain Frew.

Rishi Sunak became Britain's third prime minister in two months on Tuesday after becoming the new leader of the Conservative Party.

While there obviously have been rapid political developments in the U.K. over the past few weeks, one of the things that has been clear throughout that is that there’s "actually quite a lot of consistency and continuity in U.K. policy... There’s a really consistent line," Frew said Tuesday.

He said one of the policies of the U.K. that has remained consistent through different generations of prime ministers is the tilt towards the Indo-Pacific, with a focus on Southeast Asia and Vietnam. It would take time to see how Prime Minister Sunak would steer the U.K., but Frew said he believes the country’s foreign policies would remain consistent amidst a global situation affected by high inflation rates and high energy prices.

"My first expectation of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is for that continuity in our approach... we're going to continue to deepen trade and build our relationship on free trade. We will continue to focus on climate and energy and deepening our defense and security relationships. So all of that is going to be consistent," he said.

Frew began his term as ambassador to Vietnam in August. He said it was an opportune moment to do so as cooperation between the two countries continues to improve in commerce, energy, investment, security and defense.

Bilateral trade between the two countries reached $5.2 billion in the first nine months of this year, a 5.7% increase year-on-year, according to data from the General Department of Vietnam Customs. The U.K. is the 9th largest export market for Vietnam and has 485 FDI projects in the country worth around $4.2 billion.

Frew said Brexit has opened up a new era of foreign policies related to how London develops its relationship with Europe and the rest of the world. In 2020, Vietnam and the U.K. signed an agreement akin to a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the E.U., he added.

This would create a more stable foundation for businesses in both countries to invest and operate, he said.

One of the important fields where the U.K. is cooperating with Vietnam and other partners is climate and energy, Frew said. The U.K. is trying to support Vietnam in its transition from an economy that grows by depending on carbon emissions to a greener model, which aligns with the country’s commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The U.K. has experience in this energy transition to a power network that uses more renewable energy, whether offshore wind or solar, he said, adding that Vietnam has much potential in this field.

Vietnam and the U.K. would also cooperate in dealing with both regional and global security issues, Frew said.

"[The Indo-Pacific] is a region which has seen some geopolitical tension. But also it's a region which is growing fast and with huge potential for the future," he said, adding that this made increased security cooperation with partners in the region more important.

Frew said he had never visited Vietnam before being appointed ambassador and he was confident he would thoroughly enjoy his tenure here.

"One of the things that I am already enjoying most about being here in Vietnam is trying all the food and listening to everyone's recommendations," he said.

"We have so much we can do together and that's why I'm very proud and very, very happy to be ambassador here now."

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