HA NOI — "We are glad to see trade and investment between Viet Nam and Latin American countries developing strongly," said Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at the opening session of a forum in the capital yesterday.
|PM Nguyen Tan Dung and the heads of delegations from Latin American countries pose at a ministerial forum on trade and investment with Viet Nam. The two-day forum is the first of its kind. — VNA/VNS Photo Thong Nhat
The occasion was the first Vietnamese-Latin American event on trade and investment. It runs for two days.
Themed Viet Nam-Latin America: Trade and Investment Partnership for Development, the gathering aims to enhance friendship and mutual understanding between Viet Nam and the region and promote opportunities for partnerships and information exchange while seeking trade and investment opportunities.
Two-way trade between Viet Nam and Latin America has increased significantly over the past years and is now 17 times higher than it was 10 years ago, from US$300 million in 2000 to $5.1 billion in 2011.
Vietnamese firms have pledged to invest $7 billion in the region while Latin American countries plan to invest $3 billion in Viet Nam.
"Looking back at the developing relationship between Viet Nam and Latin American nations, we are very proud of the achievements, even though they do not match potential," Dung said.
"Bilateral trade has grown at a high rate, but only accounts for a small proportion of total trade of each side. The number of investment projects is still modest. Understanding of the business and investment environment on each side also remains limited," he added.
Viet Nam wants to boost trade investment co-operation in the areas of oil and gas, energy, consumer goods, and farming products and seafood as well as importing raw materials from Latin American countries, he said.
"Viet Nam is willing to become an important economic partner of Latin American countries and at the same time, act as a bridge to further boost their economic partnership with East Asia."
Explaining the modest trade and investment cooperation between Viet Nam and the region, Vu Tien Loc, chairman of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said that the main reasons were language barriers, geographical distances, a shortage of information and understanding.
"Vietnamese and Latin American enterprises have few opportunities to meet directly due to the high costs of market surveys," Loc added.
As a result, the VCCI set up the "Viet Nam – Latin America Business Council" to further bolster trade, investment and economic co-ordination between the two sides.
After the opening session, the "Viet Nam – Latin America: Business and Investment Environment" conference took place. During the seminar, representatives from Latin American countries greatly appreciated the important role of the forum and introduced their potential, advantages, business environment and legal frameworks to local participants.
They hoped that it would mark a significant milestone for further economic partnership whereby Viet Nam would become a gateway for these nations to make entry into South East Asia.
Vice Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment of Cuba Antonio Caricarrte said: "Viet Nam is the second biggest trade partner of Cuba in Asia and since 1999, it became a major rice supplier to the country".
Cuba has great potential to enhance exports of bio-technological products to Viet Nam while local businesses invested in tourism, hotels, golf courses and real estate on the island country.
Nathan Wolf Lustbader, director general in charge of International Economic Co-operation and Promotion at Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: "Mexico is convinced that the Trans-Pacific Strategic Agreement on Economic Partnership (TPP) will lend renewed drive to the economic and commercial relationship between our countries. We are confident that this agreement will strengthen relations between Mexico and Viet Nam".
More than 200 Vietnamese and Latin American participants attended the event.
Also yesterday, two other seminars were organised, focused on transportation, logistics, telecommunications, services, agriculture and energy.
Viet Nam's total trade turnover last year was $200 billion. There are more than 13,700 foreign direct invested projects in the country with a combined registered capital of $200 billion. It has some 700 projects invested overseas with total investment at $12 billion.
With a GDP of more than $5.5 trillion and a population of 580 million, Latin America represents great investment opportunities for Vietnamese companies.
Viet Nam's main exports to Latin American countries include rice, textiles, seafood, rubber and coffee. It imports animal feed, raw materials for textiles and garments, steel, chemicals and medicine.
President meets heads
On the same day, President Truong Tan Sang praised the initiative in organising the forum when receiving heads of Latin American delegations.
He said the forum would help deepen traditional relations and take economic and trade co-operation between Viet Nam and Latin American countries to a new height.
He said Viet Nam would create the most favourable conditions for Latin American enterprises to operate in Viet Nam. He said he hoped the governments of Latin American countries would provide similar treatment for Vietnamese enterprises. — VNS