Nova Scotia pushes trade, education links with Vietnam

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Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter led officials from Atlantic Canada through Vietnam this week to forge new trade links and build bilateral relationships in education.

What is the purpose of this visit to Vietnam? What business benefits does Canada's Atlantic Gateway bring to Vietnam?

Darrell Dexter: The objective of the mission is to explore business opportunities and partnerships between Vietnam and Nova Scotia Province. We believe there is solid potential for business development, particularly in the shipping, freight-forwarding and education sectors. This is our second mission to Vietnam this year. We are primarily focused on three main commodities: footwear, breakdown furniture and apparel.

We are also promoting our excellent education system which we believe can provide excellent opportunities for Vietnamese students studying abroad.

Among the important activities we are undertaking here: the signing of a memorandum of understanding and agreements between the provinces, ports and universities in the two countries.

Canada is not a big market for Vietnamese businesses, which pay more attention to the US. What is your opinion on this?

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter is in Vietnam this week to forge bilateral relationship in education

Atlantic Canada is very close to the US, and it is a shortest route to reach the Eastern seaboard â€" a key advantage and opportunity for Vietnamese producers and shippers. For those forwarding thinking partners, we can assist by helping to diversify risk.

We are positioning ourselves as part of the Canadian solution to the flow of goods and commerce into North America and beyond. We offer competitive rates and a faster-to-market route than any other port on the east-coast of North America. We are also the fastest route to Toronto â€" the fifth largest market in North America, with feeder service to Chicago and beyond.

But Vietnamese businesses do not decide on the routes or ports; their customers, the major importers and shipping lines do that. Do you think you hit the right target?

In many cases, the shipping community will recommend to their customers where they have had the best track record, the best commercial relationship in terms of success in getting cargo to market. So, you have to build confidence with each of the links in supply chain, which includes the manufacturers, includes the shipping lines and includes ultimately the customers in North America. In Vietnam we met with businesses, shipping lines, port and government officials and manufacturers, so we met with people all along the supply chain.

We have really seen results, a year after we established our office in Vietnam, of firming the route link between Vietnam and the Atlantic Gateway (a strategic network of deep-sea ports airports, intermodal facilities, border crossings and road, rail and marine infrastructure connecting Canada with the rest of the world). We think the direct line is needed to develop the trade between the two countries. As we know Vietnam’s economy will continue to develop and target exports and we want the Gateway to be part of the development.

Canada and Vietnam are negotiating to sign an agreement on investment protection. What is your feeling about this agreement?

Our goal is to promote opportunities for both Vietnam and Nova Scotia. We are not advocating protectionist measures. There are many opportunities for both Vietnam and Atlantic Canada. The rationale for doing business between our two regions is sound and my intent is to see it grow.

Concerning education, why should Vietnamese students select Canada as a study destination instead of the US?

Canadian education is recognized worldwide for its consistent quality and strength. In particular, Atlantic Canadian institutions rate among the highest in the country.

Vietnamese students are interested in high school study, language programs, summer camps, and post-secondary study. There is also a lot of interest in adult training â€" short courses and distance learning. Atlantic Canada has a long track record for educating and training students from around the world and can respond to these areas of interest.

Because we have the experience, we also have the necessary supports in place for students choosing to study here â€" everything from pre-departure advice on clothing requirements to airport pick-ups and international student advisors on campus and ESL placement testing to help students settle in and prepare for a great experience.

Atlantic Canada has more than 160 universities, community and private colleges and specialty learning centers that are governed by rigorous standards of accreditation. We are graduating highly skilled people in disciplines such as science, engineering, business administration, economics, environmental studies and health sciences. We have more university students per capita and more teachers per capita than any other region in Canada.

Could you please tell us what fields Vietnamese students are studying in Canada? Could you tell me how Vietnam and Canada are cooperating on education?

There are approximately 600 students from Vietnam studying in Canada. This is a big increase from the previous year and as students become more aware of Canada as a study destination, the number is expected to continue to grow. Atlantic Canada receives only a small percentage of these students; we are hoping to change that by generating more awareness of the great education opportunities in our region.

Canada has launched a sustained and aggressive campaign to promote educational linkages between our countries, including trade missions, improved online tools, and a Canadian Education Guidebook. Atlantic Canada’s universities and community colleges offer a full range of programs in faculties that range from sciences, business, public administration, the arts, education, and heath care â€" including medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine and health care administration. Many of the Vietnamese students attending the region’s universities and colleges are studying business and science.

Reported by Vinh Son

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