July 14, 2008 17:25 ET

Minister Oda Concludes Visit to Vietnam

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 14, 2008) - The Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation today completed a three-day visit to Vietnam where she met with government officials and representatives from Canadian non-governmental organizations and witnessed first hand the very tangible results of Canada's development assistance particularly in the areas of governance and private sector development.

"Canada is proudly supporting the efforts of the Vietnamese people to reform their government and bring their citizens out of poverty," said Minister Oda. "Working together, we are supporting small-business ventures, improving the quality of basic education programs, and helping put in place governance systems that are accountable to the people."

Minister Oda met Mr. Ha Hung Cuong, Minister of Justice, to discuss possible Canadian support for the legislative and regulatory reforms underway in the country. She also met with Mr. Vo Hong Phuc, Minister of Planning and Investment, to discuss the role of development assistance in supporting Vietnam's transition from a mainly agrarian economy to one that competes more broadly in the global marketplace.

During her meeting with Mr. Nguyen Thien Nhan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Training, Minister Oda explored how Canada could help build a well-trained labour force by supporting technical and vocational training programs.

Minister Oda visited a handicrafts company in Hai Duong province established through a CIDA project that provides support to women entrepreneurs. The company now employs over 150 people and exports products such as embroideries, bamboo-rattan baskets and lacquerware to Europe, Japan and the USA.

"Canada's contributions are improving the quality of life for the people of Vietnam in many tangible ways," concluded Minister Oda following her visit.

Canada's multi-year commitment to Vietnam includes a current 2008-2009 bilateral budget of $29 million.


While considerable progress has been achieved over the last decade, Vietnam remains a relatively poor country with some sectors of the population benefiting less than others, especially rural and ethnic minorities. The Canadian International Development Agency's (CIDA) program in Vietnam supports the development goals identified by the Vietnamese government focussing primarily on democratic governance, private sector development and basic education. CIDA-supported programs operate at national and provincial levels, with an emphasis on the poorest provinces.

Accountable Government and Citizen participation

By providing technical expertise and knowledge, Canada has been an active supporter of Vietnam's efforts to make government more accountable, improve the economy's legal and regulatory frameworks, fight corruption and increase the level of public participation. Through the Legal Reform Assistance Project, Canadian trade and legal experts worked with Vietnamese Ministry of Justice officials to manage the country's integration into the World Trade Organization (WTO). The project played an important role in securing Vietnam's accession to the WTO in 2007 and expanding its trade markets.

CIDA's Policy Implementation Assistance Project deployed 172 Canadian experts to support the Government of Vietnam's socio-economic reform processes. Working together, Canadian and Vietnamese participants in the project provided key input into the development of new legislation on enterprise development, foreign investment and gender equality.

Private Sector Development

Despite the progress in Vietnam in recent years, pockets of poverty exist, mostly in remote rural areas and among ethnic minorities. Projects supported by CIDA assist in the government's aim to encourage equitable growth and reduce poverty. For example, the Rural Enterprise Expansion Project is increasing the viability of micro, small and medium sized enterprises in target areas and helping to create decent, safe and permanent employment, especially for women. This project has so far provided basic management training to over 1,000 businesses.

Other projects include the Tra Vinh Improved Livelihoods initiative, which has expanded access to credit and vocational training for 747 Khmer minorities and women in Tra Vinh province, and the Soc Trang Herd and Crop Quality Improvement Project, which has increased profitability for over 2,500 poor dairy farmers.

From Basic Education to Skills Training

During the past decade, Vietnam has made great progress in improving the quality and access to basic education. The net primary enrollment rate increased from 86 per cent in 1990 to 94.6 per cent in 2004 and gaps in enrolment between rich and poor have narrowed. Much of the recent achievements in basic education have occurred as a result of the Government of Vietnam's Education for All Action Plan, which CIDA helped formulate and implement. CIDA's Primary Education for Disadvantaged Children project helped train 300,000 teachers and construct over 1,800 schools. While basic education remains a key concern of Vietnam's Ministry of Education and Training, there is also recognition by the government and CIDA that technical and vocational training will be increasingly important in maintaining economic growth.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
    Joanna Bailey
    Press Secretary
    Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
    Media Relations Office