The first ever Viet Nam-Latin America Forum on Trade and Investment took place in Ha Noi yesterday. Colombia's Vice Minister of Foreign Trade Gabriel Duque Mildenberg talks to Viet Nam News about co-operation opportunities on the sideline of the meeting.
What do you suggest to help co-operation between East Asia and Latin America become more effective?
The world today is organising global production chains. Things you are eating or wearing are made from different components from across the world, for example, you may be wearing Vietnamese shoes which are made of Colombian leather. We have to connect production chains among countries in the two regions, and the potential here is very great.
Why does Viet Nam-Colombia bilateral trade remain limited?
Bilateral trade has quadrupled over the last five years, but trade values are still very small. Viet Nam has mainly exported fish and footwear products to Colombia while mostly importing chemicals. Trade still very much lags behind potential.
Viet Nam has a 90-million population with growing per capita income – a huge and interesting market – so we will have to be aware of business people and opportunities here and try to link them.
Some of the goods and services that Colombia can export to Viet Nam may be destined for somewhere else, possibly for some countries taking part in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.
The other thing is that, we have not seen any investment in any of the two directions, so we will have to encourage this as well.
Colombia has not recognised Viet Nam as a market economy. Can you explain why?
When entering the World Trade Organisation in 2007, Viet Nam agreed to not be immediately granted recognition as a market economy.
Colombia has not yet recognised Viet Nam, as it did in China, because of continued government presence (interference) in these economies. However, you should not be worried about that. The matter is being discussed at the highest levels of our government.
Certain industrial sectors in Viet Nam have been very successful and competitive, such as footwear for instance.
What should be done to promote tourism potential in both countries?
I think the most important thing is information. People in Colombia know very little about your growth, food and friendliness. You should show your beauties and interesting culture and people will come. Again, potential is immense.
What should Viet Nam do to attract Colombian investors?
We need more information about opportunities for co-operation, industrial parks and agreements. You are now part of the TPP, a very interesting partnership people are looking at. Such a legal bridge helps eliminate transaction costs and makes it easy for enterprises to cross.
Viet Nam is very interested in Latin America. What can Colombia do to help the country enter this enormous market?
We are going to hold more forums like this to gather business people together. When people come together to talk about opportunities, they will create business affairs. Your government and enterprises should start establishing linkages. — VNS