Last updated: Monday, May 20, 2013
From Old Friend to New PartnerPosted: Monday, June 18, 2012
The Vietnam - Slovakia friendship has been developing in all aspects, from cultural exchange to economic cooperation. With the support from the two governments, businesses of the both sides are actively working on the principle of mutual benefit. In an attempt to provide more business information, create cooperation and investment opportunities and promote cultural exchange between Slovakia and Vietnam, the Vietnam-Slovakia Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi opened an official office at 16 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hanoi. To have a more comprehensive view of Vietnam - Slovakia ties, especially in the economic field, Vietnam Business Forum interviewed Mr Nguyen Huy Cuong, Head of Vietnam - Slovakia Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi.
How do you assess current cooperation potential of Vietnamese and Slovak businesses?
Well. As known, Slovak Republic was established in 1992 from the separation of Czechoslovakia. So, for many Vietnamese people living and working in Czechoslovakia, Slovakia and Czech Republic are one, and they are our friends, assisting and standing by us in the hard time. Today, in the context of global economic cooperation, the major concern for us is how to make an old friend into a new partner and how to make both develop.
Friendship means cooperation, not partnership. When two friends cooperate, they will respect each other's culture, ethics and morality. A friend can help me this time and we will return the favour at another time. In the past, Vietnam and Czechoslovakia were close friends. When we were poor and hungry, they helped us. They stood by us under the common roof of socialism and shared with us wartime hardships.
But, it is another long story when a friend becomes a partner. How can we keep friendship while going into partnership? The tough question is how to harmonise the interests that both sides are jointly developing. Previous generations built the emotional foundation but current generations, with the thinking of the new market economy, eye partnerships and that friendly relationship depends very much on the people who used to live and work in Czechoslovakia and the support of the governments. The opening of the Slovakia - Vietnam Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi in a prime location on Ly Thuong Kiet Street reflects the care and support of Vietnam for promotion of relations in all fields, especially economy, with Slovakia.
What do you expect from the cooperation between Vietnam with Slovakia and Czech Republic?
Yes. I dream a lot and fortunately I do not have to pay a toll for my dreams! But my greatest expectation is Slovakia and Czech Republic acting as a ‘backdoor’ for us to enter Europe. This is highly likely. Germany or France is the ‘front door’ with a plenty of barriers and isolations, but the ‘backdoor’ is opened by my friends. In return, Vietnam will also be a gateway for my friend to enter ASEAN rather than pass through Thailand or Malaysia.
Slovakia has a very powerful engineering technology, especially precision engineering and advanced materials - a very long leap ahead of us. Particularly, with their experience in operating nuclear power plants since 1976, they can share a lot of experience in operating, repairing, dismantling and training human resources for nuclear power plants. Vietnam can follow them for incalculable benefit. For instance, the cost of dismantling nuclear power plants needs to be added to electricity price, not only investment, operating administrative and personnel training expenses. In addition, as Slovakia and Czech Republic are near Austria, environmental issues in general and treatments towards nuclear power handling in particular are very good. We can learn from them.
At present, many Vietnamese businesses are cooperating with Slovak and Czech partners. This relationship has been, and will be, reinforced by the effort of businesses and the important support of both governments. The opening of the Slovakia - Vietnam Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi is the clearest proof. We will strive to further develop our old friendship and step up cooperation to become major partners. In addition, the Vietnam - Slovakia Friendship Association and the Vietnam - Czech Friendship Association must have closer guidance when they are given policy support from the two governments.
Apart from being the head of Slovakia-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi, you were a former student in Czechoslovakia and you are now the chairman of Mai Linh C Co., Ltd. Would you mind sharing something about Mai Linh C? Did you bring anything you learned in Czechoslovakia to your company now?
Many staff at Mai Linh C used to study in Eastern Europe, including Czechoslovakia, and they all share the aspiration of developing Mai Linh C. Currently, businesses are struggling and prone to a lot of risks. In this context, Mai Linh C has anticipated hardships ahead and worked out response plans, including investment for downstream processing technology and enhancement of working productivity.
Indeed, we can learn technologies, particularly mechanical engineering and advanced material from Slovakia. Mai Linh C is one element of the process of building up Vietnam - Slovakia - Czech relationships, from friendship to partnership.