On Sunday, John Key, the prime minister of New Zealand, arrived in Vietnam for a state visit. Key’s trip is his first to Vietnam since 2010. Key met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and the two signed a series of bilateral agreements on a range of issues, including trade, investment, education, healthcare, and civil aviation. Notably, the two leaders said that they aimed to double trade between their two countries to $2.2 billion. Key’s trip to Vietnam comes after Dung visited New Zealand earlier this year, in July.
“Today we’ve signed a number of agreements which will see greater opportunities for New Zealand and Vietnamese companies to do more business together, for more students to be educated both in New Zealand and through New Zealand universities here in Vietnam and also see greater exchange of people-to-people links through tourist visits,” Key noted at a press conference. Dung and Key reaffirmed the achievements and agreements that came out of the Vietnamese prime minister’s earlier trip to New Zealand.
2015 marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and New Zealand, hence the reciprocal state visits by their leaders. Dung’s earlier visit and the participation of both countries in negotiations for the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership have seen the bilateral agenda focus on trade ties. In July, Dung and Key had emphasized their intent to steer the bilateral toward closer trade ties. Specifically, they sought to double trade between their countries by 2020—a goal that was reemphasized in Hanoi on Sunday.
Both Vietnam and New Zealand are among the twelve states that recently concluded the TPP trade agreement. The TPP negotiations were concluded after 5 years of negotiations and the agreement is currently awaiting ratification among its signatories. Both Vietnam and New Zealand are expected to be able to ratify the TPP. As The Diplomat has detailed, however, the TPP’s entry into force will depend primarily on Japan and the United States.
Trade between Vietnam and New Zealand has been growing at a rapid pace even before this year’s bilateral convergence. Speaking in Auckland, Key remarked that “Two-way goods and services trade [between Vietnam and New Zealand] has increased by 120 percent since 2009.” “Given the current rate of growth, we have agreed on an ambitious goal of doubling trade in goods and services from its current levels by 2020 to around $2.2 billion a year,” he added at the time.