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New Zealand Deputy Minister keen on further cooperation

Released at: 14:39, 25/08/2017

New Zealand Deputy Minister keen on further cooperation

Photo: Minh Tuyet

New Zealand's Deputy Minister of Primary Industries Ben Dalton tells VET about the potential for cooperation between two countries, during his attendance at the APEC meeting in Can Tho.

by Minh Tuyet

■ What are your expectations when attending the APEC meetings in Can Tho?

As a member of APEC, New Zealand is always willing to make contributions to food security in the region. This a critical issue, and therefore we participate in the APEC meeting in Can Tho to share our experience to help other countries enhance their knowledge and technology to ensure food security.

I also expect that APEC will be able to advance food security as well as maintain economic, social, and political sustainability in the region.

■ What potential is there for cooperation between Vietnam and New Zealand?

At the moment, the main trade items are wooden and dairy products. However, in medium and long-term cooperation, we could make training available in New Zealand for leaders in Vietnam’s agriculture sector. Policies and procedures will probably be more open for some of Vietnam’s promising sectors.

New Zealand can meet market demand for lamb, chicken, and vegetables. We have competitive advantages in these products, with strict control over product quality and value chains. 

For this reason, we are in a position to help Vietnam develop a similar process. That would help it enhance value from what its produces.

■ Vietnam and New Zealand have achieved positive results in forestry trade. How would you comment on this?

We have been increasing trade with Vietnam and are very happy about it.

We import furniture from Vietnam, which is one of the main import items. I saw a furniture factory in Ho Chi Minh City while at the APEC meeting. So, we are looking to supply more of New Zealand’s sustainably produced timber to support Vietnam’s furniture industry, for mutual benefit.

Around 2 per cent of New Zealand’s forestry exports are destined for Vietnam, equating to NZ$90 million ($64.9 million) worth of trade. Sawn timber, panels, and paper and paperboard are the main products exported to Vietnam. Vietnam is the ninth most important forestry export market for New Zealand. Paper and paperboard (mainly cardboard and Kraft paper), and other forestry products such as posts and beams and logs all saw handsome growth between 2012 and 2017.

Most products exported to Vietnam are sawn timber, which accounts for around 61 per cent of NZ’s forestry exports to Vietnam.

The proportion of logs in exports to Vietnam has gone up from 3 per cent in 2012 to 8 per cent in 2017, which indicates that there are opportunities for Vietnam to become an important market for New Zealand in the future.

Vietnam ranks seventh among New Zealand’s import sources in forestry products. Forestry product imports from Vietnam have risen from NZ$33 ($23.8 million) in 2012 to NZ$68 million ($49 million) in 2017, for annual growth of 16 per cent, with the majority being forestry products such as furniture.

Figures from the New Zealand Embassy in Hanoi

I see a lot of opportunities for increasing the forestry trade. New Zealand has a strong forestry sector. We have produced plantation timber that grows quickly and have an efficient export industry.

Vietnam has an increasing wood processing industry. At the moment, not much timber is used in construction, so we would like to explore opportunities for more timber being used in special buildings such as tourist resorts, high-end housing, and other facilities. Timber is a good building material for Vietnam.

■ New Zealand is operating a Supply Integrity Program to support agricultural countries improve their productivity. What must Vietnam do to benefit from this?

The program operates through public partnerships and promotes commercial opportunities. A lot of effort has been made between the two governments to bring opportunities to Vietnam.

New Zealand is a small country, doesn’t have a large population, and doesn’t have a lot of valuable resources. We probably have 180 years of developing world class agriculture. Two things are really important to New Zealand at the moment: food value chains, which is why people want to buy New Zealand products, and sustainability in farming practices.

We are doing our part in climate change resistance and sustaining jobs in New Zealand in the primary sector. All of these things are critical for Vietnam or any agricultural country. Given that we have experiences in this area, it would be good if we were able to share some of that with Vietnam’s primary sector.

The whole debate is that agriculture production must secure food for the economy while recognizing the impact of agriculture on the environment. It doesn’t matter what country you go to, this discussion is always on the table.

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