HA NOI — Viet Nam moved towards boosting trade and co-operation with countries in Africa and the Middle East by holding the Viet Nam-Africa-Middle East Business Forum in Ha Noi yesterday.
|A Viettel employee serves Mozambican customers. The company is a pioneer investor in Africa and the Middle East. — VNS Photo
The seminar attracted the participation of embassies, 20 enterprises from African and Middle Eastern countries and 200 Vietnamese enterprises.
Speaking at the seminar, World Bank Country Director in Viet Nam Victoria Kwakwa said Europe's continued economic turmoil made it a good time for Viet Nam to embark on a new phase of development and accelerate co-operation with Africa and Middle East countries.
Business prospects remained good and the economic environment strong, she added.
The recent political changes in some parts of the regions partly held back the development of economic co-operation, said Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son, pointing out that more than 10,000 Vietnamese labourers in Lybia must return home.
However, the country was now in recovery, he said, adding that the economic growth rate of Viet Nam with Africa and the Middle East was about 4.5 per cent, closely following the Asia-Pacific region (around 5 per cent).
The Ministry of Industry and Trade's statistics showed that last year's two-way trades between Viet Nam and Africa and the Middle East were valued at US$4.77 billion and $5.17 billion, respectively.
The figures for the first eight months of this year were estimated at $1.81 billion and $3.95 billion.
"The potential would be much greater than this," said president of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vu Tien Loc.
Loc said that Viet Nam, Africa and the Middle East had complementary advantages for mutual development. Africa and the Middle East would be providers of raw material, fuel, chemicals, feed and fertilisers while Viet Nam would export labour, services, rice, garment, footwear and many other goods.
Middle East countries were also expanding co-operation with Viet Nam and needed more Vietnamese guest workers, he said.
However, the shortage of business information on both sides and the lack of consultancy and support were major challenges, according to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa, adding that the limited links among bank systems of Viet Nam, Africa and the Middle East also hindered economic co-operation.
Le Dang Dung, director of Viettel Group – one of the pioneer investors into the regions and also the head of the forum - proposed that support policies should be made in detail while administrative procedures should be simplified to encourage more investments.
Besides, trade promotion with the regions must also be enhanced for enterprises to exchange information and seek out business opportunities.
The Viet Nam-Africa and Middle East Business Forum would be a bridge connecting enterprises on both sides and providing necessary information, consultancy and supports.
Le Dang Dung also called for more support from embassies of African and the Middle East countries to tackle difficulties and seek better economic co-operation.
To date, Viet Nam has poured $2.04 million into 21 projects in Africa and the Middle East.
South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Mozambique, Morocco, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Israel were major economic partners of Viet Nam.
Dung said that two-way trade was expected to reach $13 billion by the end of 2013 and the number of foreign direct investment projects was expected to double. — VNS