HCM CITY (VNS)— Viet Nam will open offices in Italy to promote investment in many industries including woodworking as part of a programme to develop its small- and medium-sized enterprises.
The plan, according to the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of HCM City, has been funded by the Italian Government.
It is now being executed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation and Viet Nam's Enterprise Development Agency.
It is aimed at improving the competitiveness of Vietnamese firms through extensive technical assistance programmes to address their main weaknesses like design capacity, marketing, and innovation.
It also seeks to promote partnerships between Vietnamese and Italian firms and business groups, heard a conference titled "Industrial Cluster Enterprises Partnership" to promote the partnerships in HCM City yesterday.
Nguyen Chien Thang, Hawa chairman, said Vietnamese firms had the opportunity to acquire technology and managerial expertise from their Italian counterparts through seminars and training courses organised in the project's first phase.
"The second phase will strengthen technical support to enable more Vietnamese companies to benefit from Italian expertise in several areas," he said.
Italy is famous for high-end wooden products and globally ranks second in terms of export of wooden products after China, he said.
But, like in Viet Nam, most Italian firms in the woodworking sector are small- and medium-sized, and their strengths are design, quality, marketing, and know-how, he said.
Linking up with Vietnamese SMEs, whose strengths are low costs, easy access to Asian markets, Italian firms would enable the two sides to become very competitive in the global market, he said.
But such co-operation remains rare, he said, hoping it would improve and they would establish joint ventures to produce wooden products in Viet Nam.
Attending the conference was a delegation of Italian business executives from the woodworking industry that visited HCM City to meet with their counterparts from more than 25 local companies to exchange information and seek business opportunities.
Michele D'Ercole, chairman of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Viet Nam, said "During the business event, we could see there are a lot of opportunities for investment co-operation between Vietnamese and Italian companies."
Lorenzo Angeloni, Italy's ambassador to Viet Nam, said by investing in Viet Nam, Italian companies can reach other markets in the region that have huge demand for wooden products.
Thang said Viet Nam can increase wooden products exports to tens of billions of dollars — from US$4.6 billion last year — if the Government and enterprises sit together to come up with a development road map.
Exports in the first five months of the year were worth $2 billion, a year-on-year increase of 10.4 per cent, according to the General Statistics Office.
Thang said demand for wooden furniture in the US is increasing since its housing market has begun to show signs of recovery.
Japan, traditionally a major importer from Viet Nam, is making a shift away from China and importing more from Viet Nam. —VNS