The Vietnam UK Network held its 4th Annual General Meeting on 30 June 2018 at 8 Fitzroy Street, thanks to the very kind hospitality of Arup. Nearly 30 people attended and the meeting was followed by a networking reception. A summary report is as follows.
Acting Chairman Warwick Morris welcomed those present and thanked Arup for their generous hospitality. In Ambassador An’s absence in Hanoi, the Embassy, an invaluable supporter of the Network, was represented by Minister Minh and Ist Secretary Long.
Explaining that after 5 years of sterling work as Chairman Ben Chapman had stood down in April, Warwick said he had been nominated as his successor. The AGM would be the opportunity formally to confirm – or reject – this.
Warwick then delivered his Report on the Network’s activities since the last AGM in September. In summary, this included bidding farewell to Ambassador Thao, welcoming his successor, and getting to know the next British Ambassador to Vietnam, Gareth Ward, as well as Ed Vaizey MP, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Trade with Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
The Network had awarded a Certificate of Excellence to Sir Hugo Swire MP, former FCO Minister for Asia for his past support. Events involving the Network included a meeting with former Ambassador Hoan, now Vice President of the Vietnam UK Friendship Association, and a training visit by four interpreters from the trades union movement focussing on health and safety. At a well-attended dinner in January in the House of Lords at which Mark Field, FCO Minister for Asia, Ambassador An and Ed Vaizey spoke, a message from Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs was read out congratulating the Network on its 5th anniversary. A round-table on business ethics was hosted by NashTech, supported by a UK NGO and the British Embassy. Meetings were being held with officials dealing with FTAs and Vietnam in the Department for International Trade. Individual Committee members and other supporters of the Network continued to develop further the relationship across the board, and to represent the Network at relevant functions. A summer lunch in the House of Lords was planned for 10 July. The 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations would be formally celebrated in October. The Network welcomed suggestions for grants to good causes which supported the bilateral relationship.
The Treasurer Jakki Lydall confirmed the Network is solvent with no debt. Her report and the 2017 AGM Report were both approved.
The Acting Chairman handed over to Victoria Cowell to read out the name of the proposed Committee and Officers for 2018-19. There being no objections, the Committee was approved. Warwick thanked those present for their faith in him as the new Chairman, and welcomed Anh Hai Nguyen as a new Vice-Chairperson alongside Paul Smith, as well as several new Committee members.
Finally the Chairman thanked Ben Chapman for his outstanding work as the Network’s first Chairman and a founding member. His would be a hard act to follow. The Meeting unanimously welcomed the Committee’s recommendation that Ben should, with immediate effect, become Joint Honorary President of the Network alongside the Ambassador of Vietnam. He was then presented with a Certificate of Excellence. The citation, read out by the new Chairman, appears below.
“Ben Chapman was the first Chairman of the Vietnam-UK Network, and a founding member. Taking on the role some time before the Network’s formal inauguration in January 2103, he played an important part in shaping its aims, objectives and constitution, and in putting together the first Committee. His background as an MP, with a particular interest in Asia, trade and investment, and as the first Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Vietnam, made him an ideal candidate for the task. His parliamentary links have been and continue to be of great value to the Network. Ben’s sense of humour, shrewdness and subtle touch on the tiller, have successfully seen the Network through the challenges of infancy. His leading two networking visits by members of the Committee to Vietnam was a considerable achievement, and his ability to help attract high level attendance at the Network’s lunches and dinners has been invaluable. Having stepped down as Chairman in April 2018, Ben has accepted the Committee’s unanimous proposal that he become Joint Honorary President of the Network.”