Thao made the remarks during working sessions with leaders of the Belgian province and the Port of Antwerp on November 22.
During his working session with Governor of Antwerp province Cathy Berx, he hailed Antwerp as the first smart city of the Flemish Region and a pioneer in Europe.
Sustainable urbanisation is among the main priorities of Vietnam’s green growth, Thao said, adding that three Vietnamese cities of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang have joined the ASEAN Smart Cities Network.
Therefore, Vietnam hopes to learn from Antwerp's experience in Industry 4.0 development, smart logistics and smart city, toward future connections between Vietnamese cities and Antwerp through the twinned relationships, the ambassador said.
Vietnam is among developing countries that showed a strong commitment in climate change adaptation. The country has an enormous demand for different renewable energy sources like offshore wind power and hydro power to obtain sustainable development goals.
At present, DEME Group from the Flemish Region, with more than 140 years of experience in the offshore energy market, has taken part in Vinh Phong offshore wind farm project in Vietnam’s southern province of Binh Thuan. It will be the first offshore wind farm in Vietnam with a designed capacity of 1,000-MW.
The Belgian hydro industry has also attracted the attention of Vietnamese inventors, including SOVICO Group, according to the diplomat.
For her part, Berx affirmed that Belgian and Vietnamese localities have numerous cooperation opportunities for development, notably in the fields of smart cities, building of green urban and sustainable development.
She highly valuated the qualifications of Vietnam’s human resources and proposed that leaders of the two sides create favourable conditions and business climate for firms, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic that triggered disruptions in supply chains of Belgium and Vietnam.
While working with leaders of the Port of Antwerp, Thao voiced his hope that cooperation with the port will help ensure sea freight transport from Vietnam to Europe.
To bolster EU-Vietnam trade cooperation, cooperation between the two sides’ seaports, including Antwerp, will facilitate activities of Vietnamese exporters and importers.
In addition, the partnership between Antwerp and Vietnamese ports will fully tap on the strengths of a country with a coastline of over 3,000 km and various deep-water seaports, in a bid to turn Vietnam into a transit hub of goods between Asia and Europe.
The diplomat spoke highly of and hoped that Antwerp port will continue training courses for Vietnamese partners.
Managing director of the port Kristof Watershoot highly valued Vietnam’s seaport development potential, and affirmed his willingness to share experience and promote cooperation projects in seaport infrastructure and high quality personnel training in the Southeast Asian nation. The Antwerp/Flanders Port Training Centre has offered annual scholarships and partnered with vocational schools in Vietnam, and provided training for 300 Vietnamese navigation staff so far.
The Antwerp port is working to sign a cooperation agreement with Vietnamese seaports and welcome delegations from the country to share experiences, he added.
Honorary Consul of Vietnam in Belgium Baron de Grand Ry said efforts have been made to set up an association of farm produce importers to boost shipments of Vietnamese fruits to the Belgian market via the Antwerp port and distribute to other European nations, stating that the initiative could be realised next year.
Belgium currently has 78 projects in Vietnam, with a combined registered capital of 1.1 billion USD, ranking 23rd among 131 countries and territories investing in the Southeast Asian country. The projects primarily focus on seaports, infrastructure, logistics, real estate, water supply, waste treatment, electricity production and distribution, among others.