1. What are your impressions of Vietnam after being here for two years? And could you please tell us about your country and people?
As this interview coincides with the New Year celebration, I would like first to extend to all our Vietnamese friends my best wishes of health, happiness and prosperity.
Regarding my impressions since my arrival in Vietnam, in late November 2009, the first that come quite naturally to mind in view of my function are related to the relationship between our two countries. These two years I have spent in Hanoi continued to illustrate the warmth that characterizes the relations between Algeria and Vietnam. Our two countries built ties of indefectible friendship and solidarity relations within the context of the national liberation wars. They subsequently led the way to the development of a multi-faceted and a mutually beneficial cooperation. Indelible memories of our shared history and eloquent images of our bilateral relations emerged through the photo exhibition which we organized in late October 2011, in Hanoi. On that occasion, the various visitors we met spoke of the glorious pages of the heroic struggle led by each of our two countries for independence and noted the shared will to develop a fruitful economic cooperation.
Algeria and Vietnam will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations on October 28, 2012.
With regard to my impressions about Vietnam, I noticed with pleasure the remarkable economic progress achieved in different sectors by your country. The high growth rate of GDP in the recent years is certainly a great satisfaction for all the Vietnamese, especially as these results were achieved within the context of a serious world economic and financial crisis.
In addition, like everyone, I enjoy the landscape’s beauty of Vietnam and the warm hospitality of its people. I had several opportunities to visit Ha Long Bay. I also traveled to Phu Yen, in April, and recently, to Thai Nguyen, two other provinces that contribute, each with its own specificities, to the wealth and beauty of the country.
Speaking of Algeria, a glance on the world map shows that it is the largest country in Africa and one of the largest in the world. In general opinion its economic wealth has no equal in our region. My country is known for its large production of oil and gas. Moreover, significant efforts are being made for economic diversification notably with a more important exploitation of our other natural resources and a more benefit use of our substantial national capabilities. Besides, these objectives are included in the five-year plan for the 2010-2014 period with an amount of $ 286 billion.
In Algeria, the macroeconomic trends remain positive despite the world economic and financial crisis. The macroeconomic performance of Algeria is universally recognized, including by the specialized multilateral organizations such as the International Monetary Fund. Thus we noticed a continuing positive growth, a constant inflation control, a comfortable foreign exchange reserves and a stable national currency. The medium-term prospects remain favorable even in the opinion of international experts.
This national wealth is used for the welfare of the population. I recall that in Algeria the State supports important services. For example, the education is free at all levels. Even better, students receive substantial university scholarships. In addition, the public medical service is free.
The Algerian State works permanently to the development of important and modern infrastructures which are beneficial to the population. Recently our capital was endowed with a tramway and a metro.
Algeria has 36.4 million inhabitants, a quarter of which represents pupils, schoolchildren and students. This population, which is mostly young, is mainly concentrated in the northern part of the country.
Algerian landscapes are known for their beauty and diversity which allow the tourism possible in all the seasons of the year. There are, indeed, snow on the mountains in the north, beautiful beaches along the Mediterranean coast and the fairy desert of the Sahara in the south.
2. What are the milestones of Vietnam-Algeria diplomatic and economic relations since your arrival to Vietnam in November 2009?
I had several occasions to explain the density of the Algerian-Vietnamese relations since my arrival in Hanoi. These two years are, no doubt, the richest in the bilateral activities. There has been a significant exchange of high level visits among which the one made to Algeria by President Nguyen Minh Triet at the invitation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in April 2010. Three months before, it was the President of the Algerian People’s National Assembly, Mr. Abdelaziz Ziari, who came to Vietnam. Two Algerian Ministers were also received in Hanoi: Mr. Abdelkader Messahel, Minister Delegate in Charge of Maghreb and African Affairs, in August 2010, and Mr. Benhamadi Moussa, Minister of Post and Information and Communication Technologies, in September 2011.
Among other Vietnamese personalities who visited Algeria, I will name, Mr. Nguyen Hong Quan, the then Minister of Construction, in February 2011, Mrs. Nguyen Thi Binh, former Vice-President of Vietnam, in December 2010, and the Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee of the National Assembly, in December 2009.
The development of inter-parliamentary relations has led to the establishment of Friendship group between Vietnam and Algeria within the National Assembly, last November.
In the economic sector, Algiers hosted the 9th Session of the Joint Committee in April 2010 and the two Governments signed a total of 11 bilateral cooperation Agreements.
I recall that Algeria and Vietnam are cooperating in various fields such as hydrocarbons, agriculture, animal health, plant protection, fisheries and aquaculture. Regarding the first one, our companies PetroVietnam and Sonatrach, already bound by an Agreement of hydrocarbon exploitation and production in the region of Touggourt (Algeria) since 2002, have been recently associated under a new agreement signed with the Japanese consortium JGC, for the establishment of hydrocarbon processing facilities, still in Algeria.
3. Which fields do you think the two countries need to promote strongly to cooperate in future?
Our two countries have considerable resources and various capacities. They are therefore able to build fruitful partnerships for a mutually beneficial development. The cooperation between Sonatrach and PetroVietnam is important and is developing to the satisfaction of both parties. The results they have registered so far foresee favorable prospects in the future. In addition, our two countries identified various areas of cooperation, such as small and medium enterprises, housing and urbanism, training, public works, information and communication technologies…
Algeria and Vietnam undertook major reforms to modernize their economies.
Algeria offers great investment opportunities. The country has abundant natural resources. In addition to the hydrocarbons, the Algerian subsoil contains phosphates, zinc, iron, gold and uranium, etc. Algeria has as well important and developed basic infrastructures and presents advantageous production costs. In addition, its geographical position is a gateway to the African and European markets.
4. And finally, what would you expect to cooperate with VCCI in order to seek business opportunities for both countries’ companies?
The Embassy of Algeria will always be open to contacts with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry within the framework of the development of cooperation relations between our two countries. Its website (http://www.ambalgvn.org.vn) provides access to links that have useful information on the Algerian economy including investment opportunities in Algeria and the Algerian products available for exports. The Chamber of Commerce can also diffuse this information to the interested Vietnamese companies and bring to their knowledge relevant announcements, such as the organization of International Fairs in both countries. I recall that this year again Algeria participated to the International Fair of Ho Chi Minh City, held from 31 November to 3 December 2011.