Scottish Secretary Alister Jack will travel to Vietnam this week on a mission to boost trade and diplomatic links. He will be joined by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), in a drive to boost the Vietnamese export market.
Vietnam has strong business and educational links to Scotland, and 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the UK and Vietnam establishing formal diplomatic relations.
Mr Jack will undertake a packed programme in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, which will include:
speaking to leading political figures from the Vietnamese government;
hosting (jointly with the SWA) a whisky reception in Hanoi for key business representatives, plus a reception in Ho Chi Minh City to promote Scottish produce;
visiting textile manufacturer Coats, to hear about their operations in Vietnam; and
meeting students at the British University Vietnam (BUV) and seeing the signing of a new partnership between the BUV with Stirling University.
Alister Jack said:
“It is a real honour to promote UK interests in Vietnam – particularly this year which marks 50 years of the UK’s and Vietnam’s formal diplomatic relations. I look forward to building on these strong and important ties with our Vietnamese friends.
“The UK Government’s post-Brexit free trade agreement with Vietnam offers huge opportunities for Scottish businesses, and I look forward to promoting Scotch and other important Scottish exports in this important market.”
During his visit to Hanoi, Mr Jack will meet with Vietnam’s Foreign Minister, Bui Thanh Son, reaffirming the UK’s commitment to furthering cooperation with Vietnam in a wide range of fields, including this year’s celebration of 50 years of diplomatic relations. He will also meet the Agriculture and Rural Development Vice Minister, Phung Duc Tien, and the Vice Minister for Industry and Trade, Nguyen Sinh Nhat Tan. Mr Jack will focus on ways to strengthen UK-Vietnam trade relations, particularly in light of the UK’s recent agreement to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). He will also meet the National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss international relations.
In Ho Chi Minh City, Mr Jack will meet with the City’s political leadership and the National Assembly’s Committee For Foreign Affairs. These talks will foster deeper connections and collaboration between the UK and Vietnam.
Mr Jack will visit a Coats factory in Ho Chi Minh City to hear about their expansion into the Vietnam market. The company, with its roots in Paisley, is the world’s leading industrial thread manufacturer.
And he will meet a group of Chevening Scholars to learn about their experiences at UK universities and how they are using that learning back home in Vietnam. The Chevening scheme is the UK government’s international scholarships programme, which enables outstanding emerging leaders from all over the world to pursue masters degrees in the UK.
Latest trade figures show that almost 200 Scottish companies export goods to Vietnam worth £83 million a year – more than 11 per cent of all UK exports to Vietnam. The three top three export are beverages, fish and scientific instruments. There is huge further potential for Scottish businesses in the country.
Vietnam is a priority market for Scotch. Vietnam is the 24th largest export market by value. In 2022 direct exports were worth £73.9 million equivalent to 7.1m bottles, having grown in value by 371 per cent since 2019. Single malts account for 31% of exports. Some 85 per cent of all whisky drunk in Vietnam is Scotch. Under the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, the 45 per cent import tariff is being gradually reduced over six years to zero (it is currently 24 per cent). This has been a significant factor in driving exports.
Graeme Littlejohn, Scotch Whisky Association Director of Strategy and Communication, will join the Secretary of State on the visit, said:
“As the fastest growing economy in Asia last year, Vietnam is attracting global investment and the opportunities for Scottish exports are clear to see. The growth of Scotch Whisky exports to Vietnam over the past few years is linked to this economic potential, coupled with the reduction in tariffs agreed as part of the UK-Vietnam trade deal, and the importance of premium tourism to the Vietnamese economy.
“As the UK’s largest food and drink export, Scotch Whisky regularly breaks new ground in emerging markets, showing the way for other Scottish exports. The Secretary of State’s visit is welcome reminder of the cachet that Scotland, and Scottish products, have on the world stage.”
Mr Jack will arrive in Vietnam today [Tuesday 3 October] for a four day visit. He is being supported by the British Embassy in Hanoi and the British Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, part of the UK’s extensive global diplomatic network.