The Network’s annual dinner took place at the House of Lords on 17th January 2017, hosted, with sincere thanks, by Lord Dholakia. A full house enjoyed an excellent meal and selection of wines, whilst making the most of the networking opportunities afforded by the occasion.
The event was opened by Paul Smith, Chairman of Harvey Nash’s outsourcing division NashTech and Vice Chairman of the Vietnam-UK Network, giving special thanks to the guests in attendance and introduced the evening running order before welcoming the first guest speaker, Lord Dholakia to the stage.
Lord Dholakia welcome everyone to the event and recounted his admiration of Vietnam; its people, culture and outstanding natural beauty – imploring everyone to visit such a wonderful country.
Ben Chapman, Vietnam-UK Network Chairman, followed and emphasised the work of the Network and underscored the broad church of voluntary expertise that the group draws upon within the Executive Committee, thanking all members for their active contributions and continued dedication. Reprising the Network’s year, Ben highlighted the AGM at Arup’s head office, the dinner hosted by KPMG with Lord Puttnam and the high profile Network visit to Vietnam in October.
During the meal, David Priestley introduced, and Rt. Hon. Eleanor Laing MP, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons presented, certificates of excellence for outstanding contributions to the Vietnam-UK relationship. The recipients were Rt. Hon. George Howarth MP, former Chair of the APPG on Vietnam and VietPro, for their work supporting the development of Vietnamese professionals in the UK.
The evening’s keynote speech was delivered by Alok Sharma MP, Minister for Asia and the Pacific. Minister Sharma emphasised the clarity within the Prime Minister’s speech on Brexit earlier in the day and the new global opportunities that can benefit the UK, in particular from within the Asia Pacific region.
He stressed that Global economic growth will be driven from Asia Pacific stating “this is the Asian century”. Vietnam will play an important part in this development developing the huge potential that exists between the UK and Vietnam will be key. The minister added that 2017 will see us strengthen our bilateral relationship further, building new bonds at parliamentary levels, developing the strategic partnership and working together in many areas of mutual interest.
Vietnamese Ambassador H.E. Excellency Nguyen Van Thao responded, outlining the Vietnam Governments milestones in 2016 along with the highlights of the bilateral relationship. This included senior Government visits in both the UK and Vietnam and the strength of our trade relationship, which has grown by over a 15% last year. Ambassador Thao agreed that Brexit is a real opportunity for the UK and Vietnam to work more closely together for mutual benefit. He thanked the Network for their work and progress over the year and, in closing, offered his best wishes for the upcoming Tet holidays around the lunar new year.
Paul Smith closed the proceedings with a final thank you to all guests and invited people to become both members and sponsors of the Network.
Photos from the event are available via our website, click here.
All membership and sponsorship enquiries should be emailed to Sarah McAlister.