New Year's Greetings for 2018.
2017 in Review
This year Japan and Vietnam saw a deepening of their bilateral relationship. This strengthening of ties between the two countries was reflected in events such as the visit of their majesty Emperor and Empress of Japan to Vietnam, proactive visits by the government leaders of both Vietnam and Japan to each others' countries, the cooperation from Japanese local authorities and universities, and a variety of interactions among people in both countries. Expanded economic relations led Japan to rank first among countries with foreign direct investment in Vietnam.
Political and social aspects of Vietnam were stable last year. In terms of the economy, the real economic growth rate last year was recorded as high as an estimated 6.81%, a great achievement after 10 years of slower growth, while prices and the exchange rate were stabilized. On the other hand, issues including stagnation of productivity, environmental pollution, inequality, disaster mitigation, and corruption were more clearly identified.
In terms of JICA's activities, some projects achieved steady progress on the one hand, while some could not be smoothly implemented on the other, because of complicated approval procedures on the Vietnamese side and limitations due to public debt ceilings. Some typical cases include completion of large-scale infrastructure projects (Lach Huyen Port Infrastructure Construction Project, North-South Expressway Construction Project between Da Nang and Tam Ky and Thac Mo Hydropower Station Extension Project). Technical cooperation projects for business managers, engineers, youth, and ink banknote printing were successfully completed. Partnerships with the private sector, grass-root technical cooperation projects and volunteers also contributed to social and economic development, as well as interaction among people. However, it is very unfortunate that some yen loan projects faced payment delays to contractors, and some other yen loan projects such as urban railway projects in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi suffered greatly from delays related to approval procedures of the Vietnamese government.
JICA's activities in 2018
This year JICA will continue to implement projects for social and economic development in Vietnam and further strengthen the relationship between Vietnam and Japan based on the following three key targets.
The first is to support "quality development" and "quality infrastructure development" following the direction of the Japanese government. The Vietnamese government pays more attention to ‘quality' in its development (including a focus on inequality, productivity, environment, etc) during a time of high economic growth. With regard to infrastructure, we will apply Japanese technology for accelerating the progress of projects such as development of urban railways, bridges, ports, and electricity. This year, Lach Huyen seaport will open as the first deep seaport in northern Vietnam. Thai Binh thermal power plant is planned to be completed. I will strongly and continuously request the Vietnamese government to solve payment delays, which are the biggest concern for yen loan projects. I would like to ask Japanese contractors at ODA projects to keep an eye on quality and schedule management.
Secondly, I will pay due attention to human resource development in diverse areas. We focus on human resource development for business managers and engineers, youth in higher education through the Japan-Vietnam University, and medical and nursing staff as a driving force of economic growth. JICA will also focus on human resource development in many other fields. While Vietnam is working on legal reform to ensure a fair and efficient market-oriented economy and good governance, there is still room for improvement in the operation of the legal system. This year, JICA will start its cooperation for training political leaders and administrative officers who are in charge of policy-making and administrative management. JICA will also foster the cultivation of mutual understanding between Vietnam and Japan via Japanese language education by volunteers and scholarship programs to study in Japan.
Thirdly, I will further foster development cooperation through new ideas and approaches that include private enterprises and grass-root technical cooperation. Japanese SMEs, local authorities, universities and NGOs have great interest in Vietnam, helping Japan to be the first among donor countries with the greatest number of projects in this country. I will also actively utilize ideas and experiences from Japanese enterprises, local governments and citizens in addition to yen loans and technical cooperation projects.
In July 2017, JICA formulated a new vision we call ‘Leading the world with trust'. This is the 45th anniversary year since Vietnam and Japan established their diplomatic relationship. JICA will carry out development cooperation that can further build a relationship of trust between Vietnam and Japan that was established by our forerunners.
I would appreciate your continued support for JICA's activities in 2018.
January 18th, 2018
Chief Representative, JICA Vietnam Office