Press release 12/2013
17 January 2013
Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala will visit Myanmar and Vietnam from 19 to 26 January. Minister Hautala’s visit to Myanmar is the first ministerial-level trip to the country since 1988.
Myanmar and Vietnam are at very different stages of development. Finland is planning to start development cooperation in Myanmar, while in Vietnam, which is developing rapidly, Finland is gradually transferring from the traditional development cooperation to more diverse relationships. A delegation of cleantech business representatives will accompany the minister to Vietnam.
Finland, like other Western countries, halted cooperation with Myanmar in 1988, owing to the country’s non-democratic development and human rights violations. The democratic reforms launched by the new civilian government have enabled the gradual normalisation of relations. The aim of Minister Hautala’s trip is to explore Myanmar’s development challenges and guidelines for the future, and to determine how Finland can best support Myanmar in its development.
Vietnam, a long-term development cooperation partner of Finland, has experienced strong development in recent years. The country rose to become a lower-middle-income country in 2010, and it aims to be a developed industrial country by 2020. Finland is now shifting, in stages, from the traditional donor-type project cooperation to other forms of cooperation. The final phases of bilateral projects in forestry, water and sanitation and in the innovation sector will begin this year. Development cooperation, which has continued for three decades, provides a good basis for strengthening trade and economic relations. A developing domestic market of more than 90 million people makes Vietnam an attractive trade partner for Finnish companies.
During her trip, Minister Hautala will meet with ministerial colleagues and other important political figures in both countries, as well as with representatives of other donors, UN agencies and local and Finnish NGOs. Among the topics of discussions will be bilateral relations and current development policy issues, such as the management of natural resources and climate change. Democracy and human rights issues will also be on the agenda in both countries. In Vietnam, the minister will see the implementation of Finnish development projects in Central Vietnam and will participate in the 40th anniversary celebration of diplomatic relations between Finland and Vietnam that will be organised by the Embassy of Finland in Hanoi.
Additional information: Milma Kettunen, Press Attaché to Minister Heidi Hautala, mobile tel. +358 40 522 9869, Counsellor Tarja Kangaskorte, tel. +358 9 1605 6436 (Vietnam) and Administrator Petri Wanner, tel. 358 9 1605 5163 (Myanmar).