~ Le ViÍt Nam, aujourd'hui. ~
The Vietnam News

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Germany provides sees strong economic prospects in Vietnam

BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung pledged to work to enhance cooperation in the economic sphere, education and the law when they met in Berlin Thursday. Merkel highlighted the significance of the German input into a planned underground rail project in Ho Chi Minh city and into a German-Vietnamese university, calling them "symbolic."

Agreements relating to both were signed in the presence of the two leaders. German engineering company Siemens is a strong contender for the underground railway, estimated to cost 800 million euros (1.2 billion euros), although Dung stressed the company "has much work to do" before the deal is sealed. Germany has put together a financial package of some 240 million euros for the project, including 86 million euros in aid and the rest in low-interest loans from the KfW state reconstruction bank. The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Austria are also involved.

Dung described the meeting as "very, very good," adding he had pressed Merkel to visit Vietnam. While he welcomed the German financial assistance, he indicated more would be welcome and he urged Germany to assist with poverty reduction and meeting the UN Millennium Goal in this regard. He also called for more German private sector investment in the impoverished South-East Asian country.

Merkel highlighted Vietnam's rapid economic growth - put at 8.2 per cent in 2006 - but said the country faced "a large task in developing rural areas." "The key to success is good education," the German chancellor said. Regarding cooperation in the legal area, Merkel stressed the need for Vietnam to observe intellectual property rights.

Earlier German Economics Minister Michael Glos focused on the opportunities for German companies in Vietnam. "I see outstanding opportunities if the pace of reform in Vietnam is maintained," Glos said. Glos and Dung opened the seventh meeting of the German-Vietnamese dialogue forum. The forum was set up in 1996 to discuss political and economic cooperation between the two countries.

Last week, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Vietnam during a tour of the region, expressing confidence German companies would be successful in bidding for the underground rail project. Germany is Vietnam's largest trading partner within the European Union, with mutual trade rising 40 per cent in 2007 to 3.4 billion euros, although one-off deliveries of Airbus aircraft and railway engines inflated the figures.

Deutsche Presse Agentur - March 6, 2008.