EU pledges €542mn in ODA for Vietnam despite sea tension

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EU pledges €542mn in ODA for Vietnam despite sea tension

The European Union will continue granting official development aid (ODA) to Vietnam, with €542 million to be disbursed this year despite current tensions in the East Vietnam Sea and the global economic crisis, an EU official said on Wednesday.

Dr. Franz Jessen, Ambassador-Head of the EU’s delegation in Vietnam, made the confirmation at the launching ceremony held in Hanoi for the 2014 edition of the EU Blue Book, a publication under the theme of EU-Vietnam development cooperation.

When asked by reporters whether the tension in the East Vietnam Sea following China’s illegal deployment of its oil rig there may affect the EU’s official aid for Vietnam, Dr. Franz Jessen said the sea situation will have no impact on this issue.

The EU applies long-term investment and aid plans for Vietnam and these plans are based on a sustainable financial mechanism, so they will not be affected by the ongoing marine tension, he explained.

Accordingly, the EU will grant ODA to Vietnam with a total value of €542 million (US$738.8 million), including €130 million ($177.2 million) of non-refundable aid in 2014, he said.

In the 2007-2013 period, the European organization’s ODA disbursement to Vietnam amounted to €3.6 billion ($4.9 million), of which 55 percent was non-refundable aid.

In 2013 alone, the EU provided €456 million ($621.6 million), including €191 million ($260.3 million) in non-refundable aid.

This year, the bloc will focus its financial aid for Vietnam on the projects that support ethnic minority groups, develop energy sources, and build a law-governed state in the country.

The EU will keep assisting Vietnam in developing the country’s trade ambitions and international commitments by maintaining its ODA for Vietnam, signing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Southeast Asian nation by the end of this year, and strengthening political relations, Dr. Franz Jessen said.

In order to boost the ODA disbursement in the future, the EU official advised that Vietnam make careful calculations and step up its reform of administrative procedures.

Tensions are still high between Vietnam and China as Beijing has kept the Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig in Vietnamese waters in the East Vietnam Sea since May 1 in spite of vehement opposition from Hanoi.