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Newly Signed Agreement and State Department Panel Helps AAAS Further Expand Cooperative Ties with Vietnam
From left, Vaughan Turekian and Tran Ngoc Ca signing the memorandum of understanding
With a new joint agreement, AAAS has strengthened its ties with science and technology leaders of Vietnam, a country with a dynamic and rapidly developing economy.
AAAS inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) 27 February 2008 with the leading Vietnamese S&T policy think tank, the National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategy Studies (NISTPASS).
The memo—signed by Tran Ngoc Ca, the vice director of NISTPASS at Vietnam's Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), and AAAS Chief International Officer Vaughan Turekian—formalizes the Association's plans to "collaborate in the advancement of science, technology, and innovation policy and studies," and to pursue joint activities.
"I commit myself and my organization [under the new agreement] to carry further our relation with AAAS," Ca said.
Tran Quoc Thang, Vietnam's vice minister for science and technology, said the cooperation will help "to contribute to our friendship between two nations."
The signing ceremony was attended by science officials from both nations, including Nina Fedoroff, science and technology adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator. She commended AAAS as a non-governmental organization that "supports international science in ways that no other organization does."
Turekian, noting the range of experts from various Vietnamese ministries at the ceremony, said it is "a real indication of the depth and the broadness of the relationship" that exists between United States and Vietnam on science, technology, engineering and health issues.
As a first example of joint efforts likely to result from the new memorandum of understanding, AAAS plans a symposium under the auspices of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to be hosted by Vietnam and co-sponsored by the governments of China, New Zealand, and the United States, focusing on innovation-related topics such as how best to set research and development priorities and developing public-private partnerships. That event is expected to serve policy makers from the 21 economies of APEC in the fall of 2008.
In addition to the MOU signing, AAAS staged a panel discussion on technology transfer and intellectual property that took place 25 February at the U.S. State Department during the annual U.S.-Vietnam Joint Commission Meeting on Scientific & Technological Cooperation. The MOU and the panel discussion were part of the Association's broader effort to promote scientific engagement and international cooperation with Vietnam, said Tom Wang, director for international cooperation.
"Vietnam is emerging as a primary economic development force in Asia," Turekian noted. "Their economic growth rate is among the fastest in this rapidly developing region. As the world's largest general scientific organization, AAAS can play an important role as a catalyst for promoting science and scientists as important drivers of innovation and technically informed policy making."
Tran Quoc Thang and Vaughan Turekian
Vietnam's economic growth is expected to jump by 8.5 percent in 2008, and the country's population is approaching 85.4 million.
Broad-based economic reforms are underway, now that Vietnam has joined the World Trade Organization, transitioning away from a centrally-planned economy. Vietnam has been opening up to foreign goods and services for the past two decades, Turekian noted. Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates has announced plans to invest in Vietnam, and computer-chip maker Intel is establishing a major operation outside Ho Chi Minh City.
The chronology of AAAS efforts to establish cooperative ties with Vietnamese leaders in science and technology began in 2006, and is outlined here:
May 2006: A high-level delegation from the National Assembly of Vietnam visited AAAS to discuss efforts to develop a legal framework for encouraging the growth of science and technology in Vietnam.
July 2006: AAAS helped to organize a high-level development conference in Hanoi. Specifically, Turekian and officials from Arizona State University worked with the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology and the U.S. embassy to organize the Vietnam-U.S. Scientific Forum, which explored issues of sustainability and science education.
December 2006: Tran Quoc Thang, vice minister of Vietnam's Ministry of Science and Technology, visited AAAS to discuss his science priorities and possible areas of cooperation with AAAS and the American scientific community.
25 February 2008: AAAS took part in the U.S.-Vietnam Joint Commission Meeting on Scientific & Technological Cooperation at the U.S. State Department, contributing expertise on technology transfer and intellectual property. The panel featured Edward G. Derrick, director of the AAAS Research Competitiveness Program; Steve Ferguson, director of the Division of Technology Development & Transfer in the U.S. National Institutes of Health Office of Technology Transfer; Mark Crowell, associate vice chancellor for economic development and director of the office of technology development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Anny Wong, a political scientist with the RAND Corporation.
27 February 2008 AAAS signs a memo of understanding with the National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategy Studies (NISTPASS), Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). The document formalizes plans to collaborate in the advancement of science, technology, and innovation policy and studies.
Ginger Pinholster and Earl Lane
29 February 2008