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Japan gives Vietnam biggest-ever ODA package
Minh Nguyen 15:45, 2023/10/18
The focus of the financial support is infrastructure, manpower, and post-pandemic economic recovery.

Vietnam in July inked a loan agreement worth JPY60 billion (US$435 million) with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the biggest-ever lending package signed one time for the Southeast Asian country since 2017.

 Sugano Yuichi, Chief Representative of JICA – Vietnam Office, at the press conference in Hanoi on Oct 18. Photos: JICA

Sugano Yuichi, Chief Representative of JICA – Vietnam Office, said at an annual press conference on the 2023 Fiscal Year held in Hanoi on October 18.

The combined amount which belongs to the 2023 Fiscal Year beginning in April 2023 would be poured into three projects namely improving urban public transport, expanding agricultural supply chains, and post-pandemic economic recovery, Sugano Yuichi told The Hanoi Times.

Specifically, the Public Transport Infrastructure Improvement project in Binh Duong Province costs JPY6.24 billion, the Upgrading Infrastructure for Agricultural Development project in Lam Dong Province worth JPY4.7 billion, and the General Budget Support Program for Socio-economic Recovery and Development of Vietnam Post-Covid-19 Pandemic costs JPY50 billion.

In the 2022 Fiscal Year starting from April 2022 to March 2023, the JICA pledged an ODA amount worth JPY18.9 billion ($126 million), excluding financial support for the private sector.

Remarkable outcomes of the Japanese funding during the fiscal year were seen through non-refundable project Flood Management Enhancement which came operational in May 2022 in Vietnam’s central region – the zone suffers frequent natural disasters like storms and flooding. It helped Vietnam develop hydrological observation, flood monitoring, and forecasting systems. At the same time, the JICA supported a project on reducing the risk of flash floods and landslides in the North and another in improving accuracy in national weather forecasting.

Regarding the first half of the 2023 Fiscal Year, the JICA reported that there are a number of projects complete and underway under different models, such as the official development assistance (ODA), financial support, non-refundable aid, programs recommended by Japanese private firms, development partner programs, and overseas cooperation volunteer programs.

According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance, Japan is Vietnam’s biggest ODA provider, supplying 60% of the latter’s total ODA.

In the time to come, the JICA will prioritize infrastructure with a focus on a metro line in Ho Chi Minh City in addition to urban transport.

Meanwhile, improving manpower will be specified through training at Vietnam Japan University (VJU), Can Tho University, and Vietnam – Japan Human Resource Cooperation Center (VJCC). The cooperation programs both train students and business executives and provide useful information and training for Vietnamese laborers before working in Japan.

Another sector of the cooperation is health care. The JICA’s support over the past years has enabled three national hospitals (Bach Mai Hospital, Hue Central Hospital, and Cho Ray Hospital) to improve their capacity. The JICA's intensified assistance in telehealth has helped many hospitals at lower levels conduct effective checkups and treatment. In addition, the participation of Japanese universities, private companies, and non-governmental organizations has been significant in terms of rehabilitation and nursing amid Vietnam’s rapid aging.   

Climate response is also included in the JICA’s funding lists with its credit packages for the private sector in renewable energy and through the Green Climate Fund (GCF) – a fund established within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Accordingly, it will boost low-emission activities like afforestation, forest protection, and circular economy to help Vietnam fulfill its net-zero commitments by 2050.

 Overview of the press conference on the JICA's 2023 Fiscal Year. 

The year 2023 means a lot to Vietnam-Japan relations as the two countries celebrate the 50th anniversary of establishing bilateral ties and the JICA vows to support Vietnam in an effort to strengthen the relationship, emphasized Sugano Yuichi, Chief Representative of JICA – Vietnam Office.

In addition to economic ties, Vietnam and Japan have tightened relations through high-ranking exchanges with the latest visit by Crown Prince Fumihito Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko in September.

In March 2023, JICA President Kitaoka Shinichi visited Vietnam to take a podium at a High-Level Economic Conference in Hanoi, hold meetings with key government officials, and go to cooperation project sites. President Shinichi also delivered a JICA Chair special lecture at Vietnam Japan University.

The Vietnam – Japan High-Level Economic Conference received more than 250 people, including Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung, and Japan’s Ambassador to Vietnam Yamada Takio. At the event, the Vietnamese prime minister expected further cooperation in green transformation, digital transformation, science and technology, and innovation.

President Shinichi said that JICA’s partnership with Vietnam will improve both countries’ prospects for the next generation and promote regional stability and prosperity by fostering human resources and the country’s socio-economic development. On this occasion, President Shinichi named some projects in Hanoi as the symbols of Vietnam-Japan cooperation, including Noi Bai International Airport Terminal 2 and Nhat Tan Bridge.

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