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Goff Names New Ambassador To Viet Nam

Goff Names New Ambassador To Viet Nam

New Zealand's next Ambassador to Viet Nam will be career diplomat Michael Chilton, Foreign Minister Phil Goff announced today.

"Viet Nam is an increasingly important partner for New Zealand," said Mr Goff, who will meet his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Dy Nien in Wellington today.

"The bilateral relationship has developed steadily since our Embassy opened in Ha Noi in 1995. I visited Viet Nam in 2001, and the relationship received further impetus last year with the Prime Minister making a highly successful visit there, and the Vietnamese opening an Embassy in Wellington.

"Trade has also grown strongly in the past two to three years, with Viet Nam having recovered strongly from the 1997 financial crisis. Two-way trade stood at $220 million for the June 2003 year, with New Zealand's exports of $145.8 million led by dairy and wood products," Mr Goff said.

New Zealand's development assistance to Viet Nam, which currently totals between $4 and $5 million annually, is focused on human resource development and the health sector. Over the past decade about 200 senior Vietnamese officials have undertaken English language training in New Zealand.

Viet Nam and New Zealand also have regular exchanges on economic and security matters in regional groups such as the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings.

Mr Chilton is currently Director of Middle East and Africa Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Previously he was Executive Director of the APEC Task Force, which was responsible for all the logistical arrangements when New Zealand hosted APEC in 1999.

He has wide experience in South-East Asia, having previously been posted in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, where he was High Commissioner and was accredited to Brunei. He has also worked in Washington and London.

Mr Chilton takes up his position in June 2004.

ENDS

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