Ambassador Elsbeth Akkerman’s first weeks in Vietnam

'In my first working weeks in Vietnam I experienced a very diverse palette of official engagements, which gave me the opportunity to familiarize myself with the multiple dimensions of my responsibility: fostering the warm relations and good co-operation between the Netherlands and Vietnam.'

The celebration of Vietnam’s 73rd National Day.

National Day in Vietnam

'On the occasion of Vietnam’s 73rd National Day, me and my husband had the honor to be invited to a reception hosted by Prime Minister Phuc. In his speech the Prime Minister elaborated on Vietnam’s robust economic growth, its ambition to engage in international relations and its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.

The evening also offered me a first unofficial introduction with many relevant members of the Vietnamese government whom I look forward to get to know better (in person) after my official installment. The commemorations continued on Friday the 31st of August (the next day) when I paid tribute to late President Ho Chi Minh together with the rest of the diplomatic corps.'

'I found the firm belief of Dutch companies in the economic potential of Vietnam truly inspiring'

Visit to Nedspice Processing Vietnam Ltd: a company specialized in producing and exporting spices all over the world.

Visit to Ho Chi Minh City – Re - Think plastic

'After these first work experiences in Hanoi I was invited by the Dutch Consul General Carel Richter and his team in Ho Chi Minh City for a two day program during which I was able to meet representatives of Dutch companies that are active in Vietnam, several of them being social entrepreneurs who ‘while doing business give back to society’. I found their commitment and drive as well as their firm belief in the economic potential of Vietnam truly inspiring.

The latter also goes for the Re-think Plastic Initiative that was launched by the Dutch Community in Ho Chi Minh City that aims to increase the awareness on plastic production and consumption; not only shedding light on what a pollution problem plastic is, but also to what solutions might be found from very easy to very high-tech.'

'Very easy to join is the ‘plastic diet challenge’ that helps to reduce our unhealthy ‘intake of plastic’ at the super market (bags) and in the café (straws). Of a more complex nature is Dutch scientist Bojan Slat’s initiative to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that started last weekend by launching a 600m-long floating barrier off the coast of San Francisco. Even more inspiration I got from a meeting with the Nuffic Neso team that links Vietnamese students with an ambition to educate themselves abroad with Dutch Universities. Based on the number of student visa our consular department issued over the summer period one can conclude that studying in the Netherlands is quite popular.'

World Economic Forum

'From 11- 13 September Vietnam hosted the WEF on Asean Forum that was dedicated to entrepreneurship and the 4th Industrial Revolution. As a participant to the session on Accelerating Trade and Investment in Asia Pacific, I also had the opportunity to listen in to the speeches of amongst others Klaus Schwab and PM Phuc. Both referred to the current global political and economic dynamism, the economic potential of the ASEAN region and Vietnam in particular. Also they underlined the opportunities and challenges of Industry 4.0 for economies, businesses and societies. With over 1000 participants and numerous exchanges between representatives of governments, companies and civil society organizations was a very impressive event.'