Our guest for episode 18 of the Vietnam Innovators podcast is Emily Hamblin, United Kingdom’s Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City and the Director for the Department of International Trade for Vietnam. Emily moved to Vietnam in September 2020, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and has worked relentlessly to further strengthen the UK and Vietnam’s relationship.
The past 10 years of the UK-Vietnam strategic partnership has brought about evident progress. From providing fully-funded scholarships to Vietnamese students to finally implementing the free trade agreement — this two-way partnership, deeply rooted in mutual respect and trust, has unlocked vast opportunities for growth in trade, education, science and technology, as well as in sustainable development.
Key focus in Vietnam
In 2020, as countries rushed to close their borders to contain an unseen enemy, UK and Vietnam forged a new partnership through the signing of a free trade agreement that eliminates 99.2% of tariff lines to Vietnam’s imports. And just a month ago, the UK delivered Vietnam’s first batch of Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines to fight the further spread of COVID-19.
“It was a challenging and unprecedented year for the rest of the world. But for the UK and Vietnam relationship, it was a good year,” Emily told Vietnam Innovators host and Vietcetera CEO Hao Tran.
Besides the trade pact, the Consul General further noted that the UK is also keen on strengthening Vietnam’s healthcare system. Winning against the current pandemic and other global health challenges, according to Emily, can best be done through the latest research, scientific data and innovative medical equipment and products. The AstraZeneca vaccine, which is the only vaccine currently used in Vietnam to protect frontline workers from the coronavirus, is just one of the many more pharmaceutical innovations that the UK wants to share with Vietnam.
Emily also emphasized sustainability, noting that Vietnam has a wide range of opportunities to build sources for renewable energy. With the UK’s expertise on sustainable development, Emily said the UK is ready to exhaust resources to guide Vietnam to a more sustainable, environment-friendly future.