Belgium and Vietnam have maintained diplomatic relations since 22 March 1973. The ambitions of both countries to build a strong relationship have created rich and multiple partnerships. High-level visits between both countries regularly take place, such as the visit of HRH Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde to Vietnam in March 2012, and the visit of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong to Belgium in January 2013.
In those 40 years our cooperation has adapted itself to the rapid evolution and dynamism of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. In the beginning the partnership focused on reconstruction and development cooperation. Today, thanks to the development of Vietnam, the cooperation has diversified into a variety of areas involving bigger financial amounts.
The Belgian development cooperation in Vietnam focuses on water management & sanitation, capacity development and good governance. The official bilateral developments assistance to Vietnam amounts to € 60 million for the period 2011-2015. Belgium also strongly supports the United Nations in Vietnam to become more efficient and effective. In addition, the Belgian regions are also present, as well as Belgian universities and a number of NGOs. The French-speaking Community of Belgium focuses its cooperation programme on specific areas as medicine, education and civil engineering. Also the contributions of the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) and the Export Financing (FINEXPO) should be mentioned. All together, the Belgian official development assistance (ODA) for Vietnam amounts to € 20-25 million a year.
An important number of Vietnamese students have been able to benefit from the excellent Belgian education system. Each year a great number of scholarships are awarded to Vietnamese students allowing more than 2,000 Vietnamese youngsters to study in Belgium. The Solvay Business School has a MBA and a Master Programme in Vietnam counting about 1,500 alumni. The Port of Antwerp trains each year 20 Vietnamese professionals in port management.
Belgium is the 6th European trade partner of Vietnam. The trade volume between both countries hovers now around € 1.2 billion a year. This volume increases every year, a sign of growing economic complementarity. Goods that are traded are mainly chemicals, machines, iron, textile and shoes, and agricultural products. Our companies work on river and port projects and are also active in the area of food (aquaculture, coffee, cocoa), space technology and the management of water and waste.