Four Vietnamese were awarded the New Zealand ASEAN Scholar Awards by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Monday.
The four were among the 40 individuals from 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to be presented with the prestigious prizes in a ceremony to mark 40 years of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and the bloc.
ASEAN is a ten-member organization which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
The Vietnamese recipients of the awards are Mai Kieu Lien, CEO of dairy firm Vinamilk; Nguyen Xuan Vang, head of the International Cooperation Department under the Ministry of Education and Training; Tran Duc Lam, CEO of Tran Duc Homes Company; and diplomat Ton Nu Thi Ninh.
The four were honored for their contribution to the development of Vietnam and New Zealand’s cooperation.
The New Zealand-ASEAN Scholar Awards are designed to recognize New Zealand’s close cultural, economic, and geographic ties with Southeast Asia.
They are given to empower individuals with the knowledge, skills and qualifications to contribute to the economic, social, and political development of their region.
Managed by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the awards are funded by the New Zealand Aid Program and the New Zealand government’s international aid and development program.
Vietnam and New Zealand will strive to double their current bilateral trade turnover, which is US$1 billion, by 2020, Prime Minister John Key said at the ceremony.
The Southeast Asian country also hopes to continue receiving academic assistance from New Zealand, including student scholarships and English training programs for Vietnamese officials, according to Nguyen Thien Nhan, chairman of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front.
There are currently 2,000 Vietnamese students studying in New Zealand, Nhan added.
The ceremony is part of Prime Minister Key’s four-day visit to Vietnam, beginning on November 14, at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung.