Hanoi, 9 July 2002

Speech by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Vietnam, Mr. Gerben de Jong, at the Grant Agreement signing ceremony of the Search and Rescue Vessels Project on 9 July 2002. The project with the total investment capital of 26,425,555 Euro and the total grant of 8,523,248 Euro will be implemented by the Dutch company, Damen Shipyards BV and the Vietnamese company, Vietnam National Maritime Bureau, under the Netherlands Development – Related Export Transaction Programme (Oret).

The Grant Agreement was singed by Mr. Gerben de Jong and Mr. Nguyen Viet Tien, Vice Minister of the Transport and Communications of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The ceremony was attended also by representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Office of the Government.

“It’s a great honour for me today to sign this Grant Agreement of the Search and Rescue Vessels Project, a project which has been of great attention and primary concerns to both our governments, Vietnam and the Netherlands.

This special moment reminds me of the visit of Prime Minister Phan Van Khai to the Netherlands last October. Our major discussed issue was this specific project, and its impact on safety improvement of sea transportation, natural disaster mitigation as well as maritime environment protection in Vietnam, all building-stones for Vietnam’s recently approved Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy

With a coastline of more than 3.2 thousand km, a lot of ships navigate in Vietnamese seas. There is a high risk of accidents happening in this area, therefore, the need to develop and strengthen adequate search and rescue operations is essential. Through the Netherlands’ Development- Related Export Transaction Programme (well known as Oret Programme), we are very pleased to share a common will and responsibility and make a contribution of 8.5 million Euro towards this development.

Six vessels will be built, of which one will be built in the Netherlands and five in Vietnam by Damen Shipyards, in co-operation with Song Cam Shipyards in Haiphong, both reputable companies in the ship building industry. Obviously, not only high standard shipbuilding techniques and know-how will be transferred to the Vietnamese side, but also intensive training will be delivered.

Over the past two years, through the Netherlands Oret programme, Vietnam and the Netherlands have signed numbers of economic cooperation projects with the total amount of 24 million Euro. The increase of these cooperation projects is  clear evidence that our economic bilateral relations are growing stronger and stronger.

Eighteen months from now, we will be receiving the first ship from the Netherlands. I have even imagined myself being on board, excitedly waiting for the Vietnamese coastline to appear. We all look forward to witness the launching ceremony and perhaps it is a bit early but you can already start thinking of a name for her, our first Oret ship in Vietnam.

Wishing you good luck with the project, and of course success with the construction of all the ships!

Thank you for your attention!”