10th Anniversary Congratulatory Messages and Memories

The Messages and Memories Project celebrates 10 years of the Vietnam-UK Network with personal reflections from some of those who have done so much to forge even closer relations between our countries.

To mark the 10th Anniversary of the Vietnam-UK Network in 2023, we asked some of our great friends across the Network in the UK and Vietnam to send us their personal memories of what the organisation has meant to them. I am delighted to say that we have been overwhelmed by the response and we will be publishing a series of these reflections over the course of the year on our website and social media.

I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as we’ve all enjoyed being part of the experience!

Warwick Morris, Co-founder and Chairman, Vietnam-UK Network

Lunch in Hanoi in October 2022 kindly hosted by VUFA Chairman Hoang Quoc Vuong and Vice Foreign Minister Nguyen Phuong Nga for British Ambassador Iain Frew and VUKN Chairman Warwick Morris.

 


 

Ambassador Tran Quang Hoan – Building on a Strategic Partnership

I had the honour to be Ambassador of Vietnam to the UK from 2007 to 2011. A few months after my arrival, the Vietnamese Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, visited the UK and signed the Agreement on “Partnership for Development” with the British Prime Minister.

In September 2010, during the visit to the UK by our Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pham Gia Khiem, the two countries decided to elevate their friendship and cooperation relation to new heights through the signing of the “Strategic Partnership”.

These two documents marked a milestone that opened new opportunities to our bilateral relationship in all areas including people to people links.

Ambassador Tran Quang Hoan presenting his credentials to Her Majesty the Queen

In this context, one day, Ambassador Warwick Morris came to the Vietnamese Embassy with the idea of an UK-Vietnam Network that seemed to me great, highly appropriate, and which I fully supported.

I still remember that during those early days, Ambassador Warwick Morris, together with Mr Ben Chapman and Mr Paul Smith worked remarkably patiently and persistently, approaching and talking to people from different backgrounds, including politicians, intellectuals, business sector, the Vietnamese overseas community, etc.

As a former British Ambassador to Vietnam, Warwick Morris’ knowledge and love for Vietnam, as well as his continuing efforts to strive for the benefits of our two peoples and his clear vision on the future Network’s purpose finally resulted in the formal establishment of the UK-Vietnam Network in 2013.

At that time, I was already back in Vietnam, but continued to keep actively involved in activities aimed at promoting further and closer communications and contacts between Vietnam and UK. As Vice Chairman of the Vietnam-UK Friendship Association I had many chances to work with the Network. The two organizations signed a Memorandum of Cooperation and sustain regular meetings to discuss concrete action plans. I had the pleasure to welcome several delegations led by the Network that came to Vietnam to seek for opportunities of cooperation across a wide range of sectors. On behalf of the Vietnam-UK Friendship Association I also had a fruitful working trip to the UK where I was able to exchange ideas with many members of the Network on matters of common interest.

Over the years, I can witness the consequent efforts of the Network and its notable and highly significant contributions in connecting the UK and Vietnam and in bringing our peoples closer.

My very sincere congratulations to the UK-Vietnam Network for its impressive development and its important achievements and my best wishes for its many ‘10 Year Journeys’ to come with ever increasing successes!

Ambassador Tran Quang Hoan is the former Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary of Vietnam to the UK

 


 

Ben Chapman – Knitting the Network Together

The relationship between Vietnam and the UK has, of course, developed hugely in recent years, becoming ever more positive. My appreciation of its growing importance drew me, during my time as a Parliamentarian, to take on the Chairmanship of the Parliamentary Group for Vietnam. I hope that in helping to grow links between our Parliament and Vietnam’s National Assembly, paying and receiving formal visits, meeting leaders and establishing working-level relationships, we made a useful contribution. This included signing an MOU between our Parliament and the National Assembly.

It was clear to me that what was also needed was a non-governmental body that could help to take forward the wider bilateral relationship, and which, whilst taking account of history, focused very much on the future. Thus Warwick Morris, Paul Smith, Ambassadors Hoan and Minh and others created the concept of the Vietnam-UK Network, inviting me to be its founder Chairman following my time in Parliament.

The VUKN has always been a close-knit organisation, driven by volunteers and supported by sponsorship from a small visionary and varying group of companies. In just its first decade, it has become a body that punches well above its weight, the envy of others, and carrying out an increasing range of activities.

A founder member of the Network and its first Chairman from 2013 to April 2018. Ben was MP for Wirral South from 1997 until 2010. He set up and chaired the All Party Group for Vietnam and is now Honorary President. He signed the Memorandum of Understanding that governs the relationship between the two parliaments. Ben has been a regular visitor to Vietnam both privately and officially. He is married to Maureen and lives in Bath.

 

I like to think that during my time as Chair I helped establish valuable political, governmental and parliamentary links for the Network. I also led two visits to Vietnam, during which I was pleased to sign an MOU between the Network and the Vietnam-UK Friendship Association in 2016.

I am now proud to be, with Ambassador Long, the Network’s joint President. But it is to its Committee members, its Chair, Warwick Morris, and recently retired Vice-Chair, Paul Smith, that much of the credit is due. I congratulate the Network on its upcoming 10th Anniversary and look forward to celebrating the Golden Anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations over the year.

Ben Chapman is Co-founder and the first Chairman of the VUKN. A former MP and first Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Vietnam, he serves as Joint President of the Network

 


 

Ambassador Vu Quang Minh – Promoting Friendships and Cooperation

It is a fond memory for me to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Vietnam-UK Network. I am honoured to be among the Founding Members and subsequently the first Honorary President of this outstanding, first of its kind, organization which comprises both Vietnamese and UK members.

From the very beginning, VUKN received strong support from numerous friends of Vietnam in the UK and members of the Vietnamese community across all walks of life. The Network was also blessed to have the Honourable MP, Ben Chapman, as its first Chairman, following his role as Chairman of the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Vietnam Group.

I also remain grateful for the great efforts and support by Mr Paul Smith, the former Executive Chairman of NashTech, as well as Ambassador Warwick Morris, the current Chairman of the Network, in making this initiative a reality.

General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong witnessed the inauguration of the Viet Nam – UK Network at the embassy of Viet Nam on 22 Jan 2013

Some 10 years have passed since the official inauguration ceremony of the VUKN Network on the 22nd of January 2013, which was held in London in the presence of HE Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong on his official visit to the UK.

During the last decade, I have been happy and proud to witness the steady development and growth of the Network, with its great contribution to the promotion of fine friendships and cooperation between our two nations in all aspects.

I believe that the Network will continue its noble mission and play an ever-greater role in further strengthening the strategic partnership between Vietnam and the UK in the decades to come.

Ambassador Vu Quang Minh is a former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the UK and currently serves in this role in Germany.

 


 

Lord Puttnam – Reflecting on an Incomparably Rewarding Experience

The five years I spent as the UK’s Trade and Cultural Envoy in Southeast Asia remain among the most rewarding of my life. The only comparable role was that which first brought me to Vietnam as President of UNICEF UK. In both cases, the opportunity to spend time with people from every walk of life – from Prime Ministers to local aid workers – was incomparably rewarding.

Vietnam was a revelation, growing up in the sixties it seemed to me a country locked in an inexplicable war – a conflict that today most of my American friends find impossible to explain, or justify.

 

 

Very early into my tenure Ben Chapman asked me to address the Vietnam-UK Network. As a ‘newby’ this offered the chance to meet and talk to people already committed to developing closer relationships between our two countries. It proved to be an invaluable experience and I’ve remained a grateful supporter of the Network ever since.

This year, the UK and Vietnam celebrate 50 years of normalised diplomatic relationship – their relative positions in the global pecking order having changed quite radically. Vietnam is resurgent, whilst Britain continues to seek a role for itself in a changing world order.

One thought continues to nag at me. The fact that my generation of British citizens were spared from being directly engaged in the misadventure of the War was largely due to the diplomatic skill and moral wisdom of the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of British and Vietnamese lives were saved by Lord Wilson’s principled actions. Surely this is something which should, at some point, be properly recognized and celebrated – by both countries.

Lord Puttnam served as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Trade and Culture with Vietnam between 2012 and 2017.

 


 

Paul Smith – A Decade of Accomplishment

Paul Smith, Co-Founder and Vice Chair of the VUKN and Co-Founder of NashTech

As a founder of NashTech, a software business in Vietnam now employing more than 2,000 software engineers, I commuted between London and Hanoi/HCMC from the year 2000 and was invited to attend and speak at many poorly attended trade events in both countries.

In doing so, it became clear there was an urgent need for a dedicated, independent organisation focused on the UK-Vietnam relationship. And working together with Ben Chapman and Warwick Morris, the Vietnam-UK Network was formed as a result.

As a Vice Chairman, I was proud to have been instrumental in making the Vietnam-UK Network a particularly successful catalyst for bilateral trade relationships and in helping build a sustainable trade platform for the future.

The Vietnam-UK Network, with the support of the Vietnam Embassy, the UK’s Department for international Trade and other Departments, has gone on to lead the way, connecting businesses, stimulating trade, promoting ‘Brand Vietnam’ across the UK, and supporting Vietnam’s Prime Ministers, Ministers, Party officials plus numerous trade delegations.

The visit by Prime Minister David Cameron to Vietnam was a landmark event. On behalf of the Network, I supported the PM and accompanying Ministers on several trade activities and visits to British businesses in Vietnam, gaining recognition by the Prime Ministers of both countries.

Of course, that was just one event of many the VUKN has led over the last 10 years. For example, did you know that the Network has:

  • * Held 56 live trade events, with a varied Sector focus.
  • * Attracted more than 3,000 UK business representatives to VUKN events.
  • * Supported over 35 Vietnamese Ministerial visits to the UK, including the visit by Prime Minister Tam.
  • * Supported five British Ambassadors and seven Consul Generals to Vietnam.
  • * Worked closely with five Vietnamese Ambassadors to the UK and innumerable Embassy staff, making great friends along the way.
  • * Seen six British Prime Ministers, nine Trade Ministers, eight Asia Ministers, and six PM’s Trade Ambassadors come and go.
  • * Initiated and hosted the first Women in Business event in the UK representing Vietnamese entrepreneurs.
  • * Supported the negotiations of the Free Trade Agreement between Vietnam and the UK.

Not bad for a privately funded Network entirely supported and led by volunteers!

I am incredibly proud of the Network’s achievements, and excited about the next 10 years of expanding trade and other relationships across the board between the UK and Vietnam.

Paul Smith is a Co-Founder of the VUKN and served as Vice-Chair from 2013 to 2022. He is also the Founder of NashTech’s software business in Vietnam.

 


 

Hoang Quoc Vuong – A Year of Milestones in the Vietnam-UK Relationship

We would like to congratulate the Vietnam-UK Network on its 10th anniversary in 2023, celebrating 10 years of development since its inauguration in 2013. This year we also celebrate 50 years of Vietnam-United Kingdom diplomatic relations and 25 years since the establishment of the Vietnam-UK Friendship Association (VUFA).

This historical occasion marks the outstanding development of the relationship between our two nations and it is among the closest times ever. The two States have regularly organized many high-level visits among leaders of the two sides and the Vietnam-UK Network (VUKN) and our Vietnam-UK Friendship Association have had the honour to participate in many of these, which has helped strengthen the bilateral friendship. We are proud to have witnessed and contributed a considerable part to that monumental accomplishment.

Since the establishment of Vietnam and the United Kingdom’s strategic partnership in 2010, trade turnover has tripled. In 2022, with the momentum driven by UK-Vietnam FTA, total bilateral trade reached US$6.8 billion.

The Vietnam industry and energy sectors are strategically moving toward a greener, more sustainable direction with great support from the United Kingdom. This was clearly stated at COP26 and more recently in the political declaration establishing the Just Energy Transition Partnership with Vietnam initiated by the United Kingdom and G7 countries.

As of 2022, the UK has also become the 15th largest foreign investor in Vietnam with US$4.2 billion in FDI capital recorded, which is largely focused on the energy, industry, and finance sectors. In recent years, we have also witnessed multi-billion dollars worth of MoUs being signed between businesses from each side, and the collaboration in both private and public sectors is broader and deeper than ever.

The VUFA is proud of its work together with VUKN, playing a remarkable role across countless meaningful activities, connecting people, organizations, and enterprises of the two countries throughout a decade of our partnership, as well as supporting the development of bilateral Vietnam-United Kingdom relations.

One of the most prominent activities was the visit of the Association to the UK to join “The Vietnam Days in the United Kingdom” event, as well as having meetings with VUKN and other partners such as the Vietnam Embassy in the UK, the Vietnam Business Association in the UK, and the Vietnam Intellectual Society in the UK and Ireland.

We are also pleased to be able to witness the historical changes in the Politics of the United Kingdom this year with the coronation of King Charles III after the 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II, as well as welcoming the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in taking office.

Clearly, 2023 will be a special year. We will be preparing for many big events celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations between two countries, 10 years since the Vietnam-UK Network inauguration, and 25 years since establishing the Vietnam-UK Friendship Association.

We expect to cooperate with VUKN and become a bridge in organizing events to mark this historical milestone, contributing to leveraging diplomatic, economic, and trade relationships at the highest level.

I hope that with a strong foundation, long-term vision, and a plan for extensive cooperation between the two countries, the bilateral trade and investment flows will grow many times over in the next decade, bringing Vietnam and the United Kingdom together to become each other’s top partner in the region and across the World.

Hoang Quoc Vuong is Chairman of the Vietnam-UK Friendship Association (VUFA) in Vietnam, as well as being a former Minister of Industry and Trade and currently Chairman of Petrovietnam.

 

VUFA’s Chairman Hoang Quoc Vuong and Sec General Hoang Le Thuy Duong with VUKN Chair WM and Vice Chair Bao Ha Pham meeting at NashTech in London in March 2022.

 


 

Lord Swire – Setting the Foundations for Friendship

Can it really be a decade since Ambassador Vu Quang Minh, Paul Smith, Ben Chapman, Warwick Morris and the then Chief Representative of Vietnam Airlines in the UK came to a meeting with me at the Foreign Office? My knowledge of Vietnam at the time was limited and as Minster for Asia I was anxious to learn more and that is why I welcomed what seemed to me an excellent initiative to establish the Network.

Official Portrait Lord Swire

Lord Swire was an early supporter of the Network

I can do no better than to record what I said at the time:

“I fully support the establishment of the Vietnam-UK Network, an umbrella body which brings together existing friendships and organisations, for example in the fields of community, professional and student relations. The UK’s relationship with Vietnam has continued to strengthen since the signing of the Strategic Partnership in 2010, with series of visits in both directions, including by William Hague in 2012, the first UK Foreign Minister to visit Vietnam since 1994, and the visit of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam to the UK in January 2013. I am pleased that in the 40th year of diplomatic relations our relationship continues to go from strength to strength. I believe the Vietnam-UK Network can play an important role to further deepen the links between our two countries, in particular, people to people ties across education, culture and business. With a growing and young population, Vietnam is an exciting market for the UK. I wish the Network every success for the future and look forward to working with them.”

Not long after, in February 2015, I visited Hanoi to co-chair the 4th annual UK-Vietnam Strategic dialogue with the then Vietnamese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bui Thanh Son, and met with the Deputy Prime Minister, Pham Binh Minh, and members of the business community.
Of course, much has happened in the world since then, but I believe the relationship between our two countries is, if anything, now more important than ever and I pay tribute once more to the vision of the Network’s founders and applaud them for the success they have had in bringing our two countries ever closer together.

Rt Hon The Lord Swire KCMG was Foreign Office Minister from 2012 to 2016.

 

Founders of the Network with Lord Swire and Amb Minh

Founders of the Network with Ambassador Minh

 


 

Ambassador Thao – Building Friendship and Cooperation Between Countries

I was honoured to be the Ambassador of Vietnam to the UK between September 2014 to October 2017. Before taking up my post in London, I had the opportunity to welcome a VN-UK Network delegation to Hanoi and I realised that this is an organisation that plays an important role in promoting the VN-UK strategic partnership in many areas. Hence, right after coming to London in September 2014, I began a close cooperation with the VN-UK Network to organise activities to promote relations between the two countries.

Ambassador Thao

Ambassador Thao notes the role of the Network in promoting the VN-UK strategic partnership

During this time, I attended most of the events organised by the VN-UK Network. Thanks to the VN-UK Network, I had the pleasure of meeting and exchanging valuable information and experiences with many experts and friends who contributed greatly to promoting VN-UK relations. For example, Ben Chapman MP, a respected UK politician who was the chairman of VUKN during my time as an ambassador, discussed the UK political system with me and helped expand my network in the UK political world. Ambassador Warwick, a former UK Ambassador to Vietnam and an incredible diplomat, shared so many valuable experiences with me. And Mr. Paul Smith – a businessman with a great love for Vietnam who has invested in the country for many years –and I cooperated on creating many activities designed to promote economic cooperation between Vietnam and the UK. There are numerous other friends that I have met through the VNUK Network to whom I would also like to extend my gratitude.

I can confidently say that, in the past 10 years, the VN-UK Network has made practical and significant contributions in many fields of partnership and cooperation between Vietnam and the UK. Not only that, but I would also like to thank the VN-UK Network for the valuable help and support it gave me during my term as Ambassador in London.

Thanks to the foundation it has built and the results it has achieved, the VN-UK Network has increased its activities, expanded its network, and gained treasured friends like Ms. Bao Ha Pham and many others. I firmly believe that over time the VN-UK Network will grow even stronger and contribute even more to VN-UK relations to become an even more important bridge for the two countries and their people.

For the VN-UK Network’s 10th anniversary, I would like to send my best wishes to the Network and my beloved friends who have been contributing to the friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

Thank you so much Ambassador Warwick and the many others who I looking forward to seeing again soon.

Nguyen Van Thao is Ambassador of Vietnam to Belgium and Luxembourg and Head of the Mission of Vietnam to the European Union. Ambassador Thao was Ambassador of Vietnam to the UK between September 2014 to October 2017.

 


 

Kenneth Atkinson – Opportunities for Partnership

Having lived and worked in Vietnam for some 30 years, I have always attached great importance to the maintenance of close links with the UK. For years what we lacked in this area was the equivalent of the former Sino British Council, which was so instrumental in the development of relationships with China going back to the early 1980s.

Kenneth Atkinson OBE

Kenneth Atkinson is Chair of BritCham in Vietnam

So 10 years ago when the Vietnam-UK Network was established under the leadership of Ben Chapman, a former Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Vietnam; Paul Smith, the founder of Nashtech, a technology and software business in Vietnam; and former Ambassador Warwick Morris; I felt that we had achieved something of a breakthrough. It has been great to see the tremendous progress the Network has made.

It is maybe significant that the Network and the UK-Vietnam Strategic Partnership both celebrate their 10th anniversaries within a few months of each other.

As the current Chairman of Britcham in Vietnam, and having held the position on two previous occasions (1998-2001 and 2014-2017), I see the Vietnam-UK Network as an important link between the two countries, helping to improve knowledge of Vietnam in the UK, both generally and from a business perspective. As we have become more strategically focused since our exit from the EU, this relationship has become potentially more important.

Our main areas of focus in terms of sectors are, I believe, very similar, including culture, trade and investment, education, tourism, healthcare, and the environment. With the Government of Vietnam looking to engage more regularly with British business here in Vietnam, both through the Vietnamese Embassy in London and through high level visits and delegations, it is important that Britcham and the Vietnam-UK Network work more closely together. The challenge for the leadership of both organisations is how to get results.

Certainly, the visit to Vietnam which Ben Chapman, Warwick Morris and several business leaders from the Network made in 2016 sent a very positive signal. Similarly, the part played by the corporate members of the British Corporate Advocacy Committee (BCAC) at high-level events in the UK provides further opportunity for this much needed cooperation to develop. I will certainly try to play my part.

I am pleased to congratulate all members of the Vietnam-UK Network, and especially the founding group, for establishing this important organization. Clearly, 2023 will be a landmark year, with the 50th anniversary of UK-Vietnam diplomatic relations and the Network’s 10th anniversary. Hopefully there will be opportunities to share in the celebrations of these two significant events.

Kenneth Atkinson OBE is Chairman of Britcham and Founder of Grant Thornton in Vietnam

 


 

Wayne David MP – Looking to the Future

It was in 2016 that Sir George Howarth MP suggested to me that I might become the new Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Viet Nam. He modestly explained to me the excellent work he had done and the help he had received from fellow MPs and the Vietnamese Embassy.

Wayne David MP is the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Viet Nam

Wayne David MP is the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Viet Nam

Significantly, George also placed an emphasis on the Vietnam-UK Network. In particular, George referred to the outstanding work that had been undertaken by our friend Ben Chapman. I had known Ben when he was a Member of Parliament, but what I hadn’t realised was that Ben had been a very active Chair of the APPG for Viet Nam in Parliament and had been a key ‘mover and shaker’ of the Vietnam-UK Network from its inception.

Since its formation, the Network has fulfilled an important role in bringing together both key individuals and organisations who have had a keen interest in Viet Nam and the relationship between our two countries. That relationship has assumed increasing importance since the signing of the Strategic Partnership in 2010, and the links that have been established are real and deep. They range from important business contacts and connections to significant cultural and educational ties.

Today, it is more important than ever that these links are reinforced and developed. This year we are celebrating 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This historic milestone in our positive relationship must be seen as a real opportunity for us all to commit ourselves to working even more closely together for our mutual benefit. We must build on and make real the Free Trade Agreement which has been signed between our two countries and we must do so in a way which recognises and addresses the challenges we face and the different strengths which we can bring to our relationship.

For instance, when we think of climate change, we know that Viet Nam is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries, but the problems that Viet Nam will increasingly face can be tackled effectively. At the same time, Viet Nam could become a global leader in the transition to clean energy. This can be done by phasing out coal and embracing renewables, especially wind and solar power. The UK must be ready and able to assist in that process of transition.

This is an important example of how the developing relationship between our two countries can be of mutual benefit. But there are other areas where cooperation can be fruitfully developed and in the coming year the Vietnam-UK Network has a vitally important role to play to make this happen. There is, I am pleased to say, no doubt in my mind that the Network will rise to the challenge with enthusiasm and aplomb.

Wayne David MP is the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Viet Nam.

 


 

Oliva Hearn – Celebrating a 10-Year Journey

On behalf of Christina Noble Children’s Foundation (CNCF) and on the landmark occasion of the Vietnam-UK Networks 10th Anniversary, we thank all our friends at the Network for their unique energy over the past 10 years and congratulate them on their outstanding achievements in supporting flourishing relationships between the two great nations of the UK and Vietnam.

CNCF has been honoured and inspired to be a part of the many in person and online initiatives hosted by the Network during the last decade. From insightful and unique webinars covering topics on the development, opportunities, and potential of all aspects to prospering bilateral relations, to networking events and intimate business lunches/dinners.

Warwick Morris with CNCF CEO Helenita Noble MBE during a visit to CNCF’s Sunshine Social and Medical Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Warwick Morris with Helenita Noble during a visit to CNCF’s Sunshine Social and Medical Centre in Ho Chi Minh City

All these events have enabled new friendships and relevant people to people links and galvanised formidable guest speakers including His Excellency Ambassador Mr. Long Nguyen Hoang, Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, and the UK’s former Ambassador to Vietnam, Mr. Gareth Ward.

The Network has also financially supported CNCF’s humanitarian work with many of Vietnam’s most vulnerable communities, including a donation to support the costs of medicine for orphaned and abandoned children at CNCF’s flagship project in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – the Sunshine Social and Medical Centre.

We also take this opportunity to thank and congratulate our longstanding and unwavering CNCF supporter and friend, former diplomat, Mr. Warwick Morris. He has done a huge amount over decades for CNCF, the Network, the business community, and the humanitarian sector, to strengthen positive relations between the UK and overseas. That Christina Noble, CNCF’s founder, was awarded an OBE in 2003, and her daughter Helenita Noble, CNCF’s current CEO, an MBE in 2022, was in no small part due to Warwick’s support.

 

Over the years, Warwick has always taken the time to visit CNCF and meet some of the children the Foundation serves during his business trips to Ho Chi Minh City and has become a well-loved and much anticipated visitor by both the children and team. It is thanks to such individuals that CNCF remains incredibly proud to be a British Registered Charity operating in Vietnam for over 33 years.

Congratulations and thank you to the Vietnam-UK Network. CNCF very much looks forward to being a part of your next ten-year journey!

Olivia Hearn is Executive Director and Head of Partnerships at the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation (CNCF)

 

Sunshine Home Vietnam

Warwick Morris visits Helenita Noble and the children and staff at CNCF’s Sunshine Home in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

 


 

Ambassador Gareth Ward – A Network to Demystify Vietnam

When I was preparing to take up my posting in Vietnam, I reached out to some of my diplomatic predecessors for a sense of perspective. One of them gave a fascinating insight into the 1980s post-war rationing period. His beautiful photos of Hanoi gave me a baseline for the incredible economic development journey which Vietnam has taken in the last 40 years. His memory of frequent power cuts explained why there was a huge diesel generator at the British Residence in Hanoi. During my four years there I did not use it a single time. Instead, I was able to install rooftop solar power and introduce our all-electric flag car. Remarkably, Vietnam is now known in the UK as the country seeking to lead the green energy revolution in South East Asia.

During that time, I also reached out to the Vietnam-UK Network to get a sense of what was on the mind of British and Vietnamese businesses and academics for the future. I was struck by the message that many companies were involved in high-tech activity and academic exchanges. This gave me steer to look out for the new trend of electronics, software and gaming innovation emerging in Vietnam. Whilst many Vietnamese marketing materials still focus on beautiful vistas of rice fields, the Vietnam-UK Network signalled to me that the driving force now was not agriculture, or even tourism, but complex manufacturing and global supply chains. I also realised that I would need to visit a lot of Vietnamese universities if I was to support the dual goal of providing more access to UK curriculum and skills, plus the flow of students and research talent from Vietnam to the UK.

 

Ambassador Gareth Ward visits a solar farm

Ambassador Gareth Ward visits a solar farm

 

The last 10 years of the VNUK Network has ensured that Vietnam is no longer a mystery or caricature for the UK. The Chairs and Board Members of the Network have done a lot to broaden our understanding of where the two countries economic interests overlap and where the new trends are in contacts between our people. As well as climate and energy issues, healthcare co-operation has risen up the agenda post-pandemic, including using new tools such as artificial intelligence. Co-operation on organised crime is increasingly important to protect our people from gangs that seek to exploit the vulnerable.

I look forward to staying involved in the VNUK Network for decades to come and seeing the community of those who want to co-operate between Vietnam and the UK grow and flourish.

Gareth Ward was Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Vietnam between 2018 and 2022.

 


 

Diem Quynh Pham – Forging Friendships Even in Adversity

The Vietnam-UK Network has significantly contributed to boosting the relationship between the two countries. Despite external volatility, our alliance remained resilient throughout the Brexit negotiations and the COVID-19 pandemic.

During my time in the UK, I have attended many annual dinner meetings hosted by the network and have enjoyed every single one. A particularly memorable instance of this was during the dinner meeting at House of Lords in January 2019. Both speakers and guests showed great eagerness to maximise the untapped potential cooperation opportunities between Vietnam and UK. During this time, MPs had voted down the EU Withdrawal Agreement of the then PM, Theresa May. Despite the outcome of the Brexit deal, talk about a possible Vietnam-UK free trade agreement for post-Brexit continued with the same avidity. That night further strengthened my vision of post-Brexit Vietnam-UK ties. In addition, it highlighted the perseverance of the network is its active role in arranging meetings between Vietnamese trade delegations and British businesses, despite the UK’s worsening pandemic impacts at the time.

Through the Vietnam-UK network connection, I have met many diverse and incredibly inspiring people, some of whom I regard as good friends of mine to this day. I am distinctly impressed by the love and support that Katrin Kandel Burke Smith, the volunteer CEO of Facing the World, and her late husband, Andrew J Burke Smith, have extended to Vietnam. Not only has Facing the World aided health equipment donations, but it has also granted fellowships to Vietnamese doctors and hospitals over the last 15 years. The couple have also offered their personal property as a location where Vietnamese and British doctors could gather for dinner meetings and to build up their own network.

I want to wholeheartedly show my support for the relationship that Vietnam and the UK harbour together. For the network, I would like to thank Network Chairmen, Ben Chapman, Paul Smith, Warwick Morris and Vietnamese Ambassadors Vũ Quang Minh, Trần Văn Thảo, Trần Ngọc An. They have contributed significantly to the stronger friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and UK.

Diem Quynh Pham was Head of the Representative Office of the Vietnam News Agency in the UK from 2007-2010 and from 2016-2021.

 


 

Lord Vaizey – Celebrating Vietnam as a True Star of Asia

A very happy 10th anniversary! I am delighted that the Vietnam-UK Network has reached this important milestone.

Vietnam will always be special. As a former Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Vietnam, I have had the unique opportunity to see UK-Vietnam relations go from strength to strength and always in a spirit of partnership and friendship.

Lord Vaizey speaking at the Vietnam Investment Conference in 2019

Lord Vaizey speaking at a Vietnam Investment Conference

I have immensely enjoyed participating in the Joint Economic Trade Committee Meetings and hosting senior figures in London at UK-ASEAN Business Council events, which I now Chair. However, most enjoyable are the memories of being in Vietnam and meeting passionate people all keen to do more with the UK. The Vietnam rise, its tenacity and courage, is a global success story to be admired and applauded. The part that the Vietnam-UK network has played in helping shape the relationship at government and senior commercial levels is incalculable.

With Vietnam being a true star of Asia, our two-way trade is one of the highest with an ASEAN Member State, but has so much more potential. Vietnam’s large and young population is tech-savvy, embracing digitalisation and keen to learn from UK institutions. Vietnam is also increasingly passionate about climate change and is leading the energy transition journey in ASEAN.

I look forward to working with the Vietnam-UK Network and our UKABC partners to grow this important relationship further and achieve many more milestones together.

The Rt Hon the Lord Vaizey of Didcot is Chairman of the UK-ASEAN Business Council

 


 

Katrin Kandel – Supporting Vital Charity Work

I would like to extend my congratulations to the Vietnam-UK Network on their 10th anniversary. Since its formation, the Network has provided invaluable support to Facing the World’s activities in Vietnam.

Katrin Kandel, CEO Facing the World

Katrin Kandel leads the charity, Facing the World

The Vietnam UK Network seeks to enhance understanding and friendship between the citizens and institutions of the two countries by promoting cooperation between those with shared interests in Vietnam in a range of areas including trade, education and cultural activities. Facing the World shares and champions these values.

Facing the World is a UK-registered medical charitable foundation whose focus is to develop craniofacial centres in Vietnam to treat children born with severe facial deformities. We have established a unique and sustainable strategy by applying a “teach a man to fish” approach. This multi-pronged method is achieved via an international fellowship program, national training missions and the donation of equipment to hospitals in Vietnam. This approach has developed strong links in the medical field between the two countries and achieved ground-breaking results.

The VUKN’s events have provided an invaluable opportunity for the foundation to share its message, which has been so important in spreading the word and increasing support for our activities. The Vietnam UK Network and Facing the World have developed a trusted and proud association, which has created opportunities for Facing the World to meet and build relationships with key individuals and organisations who share an interest in our vision and operations.

I am extremely grateful to the Vietnam-UK Network for always including and supporting Facing the World in all their networking activities. I also want to extend my thanks to all the team for their tireless efforts to promote stronger links between Vietnam and the UK.

Katrin Kandel is CEO (Voluntary) and Trustee of Facing the World

 

On behalf of Facing The World, Katrin Kandel signs an MoU with Vietnam Airlines and the World Alliance of Airway Management to support medical training and community healthcare in Vietnam

On behalf of Facing The World, Katrin Kandel signs an MoU with Vietnam Airlines and the World Alliance of Airway Management to support medical training and community healthcare in Vietnam

 

 


 

Emily Hamblin – Supporting Trade and Partnership

Congratulations to the Vietnam UK Network on this 10-year anniversary! The past decade has certainly seen a strengthening of our relationship with Vietnam, and VUKN have undoubtedly played an important role in this, by building and leveraging a powerful network of people-to-people connections.

Emily Hamblin is HM Consul General and Country Director for Trade in Viet Nam & Deputy Regional Director for Trade in SE Asia

Emily Hamblin is HM Consul General and Country Director for Trade in Viet Nam & Deputy Regional Director for Trade in SE Asia

Personally, it has been a privilege to get to play a small part in the development of the UK-Vietnam relationship as the UK’s Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City and Director for Trade in Vietnam since 2020. I’ve been very grateful for the VUKN’s support over this period, especially as we celebrated 10 years of our Strategic Partnership Agreement with Vietnam in 2020 and then our first bilateral Free Trade Agreement which came into force in 2021.

With the FTA in particular, VUKN has been a huge help in getting the message out to businesses about the opportunities for trade and the benefits that they can access through the FTA, having long advocated for the commercial potential of bolstering our trade links. We were of course in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic when the FTA entered into force, but this didn’t stop the UK and Viet Nam from rapidly adjusting and bringing their network together digitally to hear the good news!

The VUKN has made such a positive impact over its lifespan, developing the people-to-people links that make up the bilateral relationship, across business, political and cultural spheres. A particular highlight for me has also been their attempts to make progress on gender equality, for example through their excellent ‘Vietnam-UK Women in Business’ activity.

We will be marking 10 years of the UK Vietnam Network in parallel with celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations between the UK and Vietnam in 2023. I’m proud of the way our two countries are working increasingly closely together in a variety of areas, from addressing climate change to building trade to strengthening defence and security, and I know UKVN will continue to pay a positive role in all of this in the years to come.

Emily Hamblin was appointed HM Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City and Trade Director for Vietnam in September 2020 

 


 

Heather Wheeler MP – Promoting Trade Links and Strengthening Cooperation

I was very lucky that my first visit to Vietnam, as a Minister in the Foreign Office, coincided with the Tet holiday celebrations, so I was able to enjoy the vibrant celebrations at first-hand. Truly great fun.

Heather Wheeler MP was appointed PM's Trade Envoy to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in 2020

Heather Wheeler MP was appointed PM’s Trade Envoy to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in 2020

Over two years as a Foreign Office Minister, I met with a range of Vietnamese Ministers in order to progress UK-Vietnamese relations. As well as pushing forward on trade deals and inward investment projects in Vietnam, I spent some time facilitating the support that the UK was giving Vietnam to grow their green energy sector.

Whilst in Vietnam, I sadly had the responsibility to visit the home region of the 29 Vietnamese nationals who so tragically suffocated in a lorry having been smuggled illegally into Britain. We have worked to make sure that this type of tragedy never happens again and I was pleased to see the collaboration between the UK police and judiciary with the Vietnamese authorities in pursuing and charging the pernicious people smugglers involved. Sadly, stopping this type of criminality is another important aspect of the good relations between our countries.

More recently, I was very pleased, when no longer a Foreign Office Minister, to be made the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Vietnam, so I was able to carry on my work. However, as it was during lockdown, I had the joy of zoom meetings on a regular basis where the enthusiasm for trade between our two countries beamed out of the computer screen towards me.

In 2022, I brought our trade relations even closer to my South Derbyshire constituency by introducing the Vietnamese Ambassador in London, H.E. Ambassador Long, to senior Rolls Royce representatives with a view to exploring a major investment in Vietnam.

I have greatly enjoyed working on bettering UK-Vietnam relations and congratulate the Vietnam-UK Network on all that they are doing.

I look forward to more collaboration between our countries in 2023 and doing what I can to help.

Heather Wheeler MP is Member of Parliament for South Derbyshire and a former FCDO Minister and Trade Envoy to Vietnam

 

The UK signed a Free Trade Agreement with Vietnam at the end of 2020

The UK and Vietnam celebrated signing a Free Trade Agreement at the end of 2020

 


 

Ian Gibbons – Celebrating the Power of Strong Relationships

I am so pleased to be able to mark the 10th anniversary of your wonderful organisation. I’ve been privileged to have known the network for over half its lifetime during my role as Consul General in HCMC and now in my current role at UKABC. The VUKN has always been fundamental to the bilateral relationship. It matters because the brilliant Chairs, Vice-Chairs, Committee, partners and sponsors have always had that indisputable passion for the relationship. They’ve either been there, seen it and done it or are continuing to do it!

Ian Gibbons was HM Consul General to Ho Chi Minh City between 2016 and 2020

Ian Gibbons was HM Consul General to Ho Chi Minh City between 2016 and 2020

The tireless work of VUKN, including the preparatory work around JETCOs, meeting visiting delegations, running seminars and workshops or hosting receptions is invaluable. Whatever the forum, it always gets to the heart of the issue. And there have been myriad issues over the past 10 years to grapple with.

Clearly, there have been many, many more positives than negatives, but relationships evolve over time. A good, strong, vibrant relationship can stand some ups and downs. A real relationship can weather challenges. But the ability to nuance the political angle, to ensure relevant voices are heard can only be handled by an organisation like VUKN that is comfortable with itself, that is valued, respected and speaks with one voice. Without VUKN’s voice a meeting or an event is demonstrably weaker. Without VUKN’s contribution the journey towards the signing of the FTA would have been less robust, less measured, less thoughtful and, overall, less meaningful.

That the VUKN is held in such high regard by the respective governments of the UK and Vietnam and the commercial world is because it matters as a conduit to sensible and objective conversations. It has the connections that matter across the bilateral relationship and, importantly, the business landscape too.

My early recollections of VUKN are from back in 2016 when the heavy hitters of Ben Chapman, Warwick Morris and Paul Smith came to Vietnam. Putting a reception on was not a problem and neither was securing an audience. They all had something to say then and still do today.

Here’s to the next 10 years. UKABC enjoys our partnership with VUKN and we’re most definitely a stronger organisation for it.

Ian Gibbons is Chief Executive of the UK-ASEAN Business Council and a former British Consul-General to Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City from 2016 to 2020