|Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh. — Photo VGP
HCM CITY (VNS) — Banks in Francophone countries in Africa and Viet Nam should establish direct ties to facilitate trade between them, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh told a forum in HCM City yesterday.
Trade between Viet Nam and Africa has grown significantly, reaching US$4.29 billion last year, but remains low compared to the potential, requiring the two sides to make more efforts to bolster trade ties, he said.
Vu Tien Loc, chairman of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said payment issues create the biggest hurdle to trade since there is no banking co-operation between Viet Nam and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) or the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC).
As a result, payment is usually through D/P (documents against payment) or T/T (telegraphic transfer) or by leaving a deposit, all of which are risky, he said. Trade between the two sides is therefore carried out through third parties, pushing up costs, he said.
Also preventing their trade from fulfilling potential are the lack of information about each other's markets and high transport costs, Loc added.
Anissa Barrak, director of the International Francophone Organisation's Asia-Pacific office, said the two-day forum, which concludes today, is expected to spell out the difficulties faced by enterprises and draft measures to boost co-operation between ASEAN and African banks.
Sylvere Bankimbaga, deputy chairman of the Club of Africa Banks and Financial Institutions, said closer ties between Viet Nam and Africa would help eliminate intermediate costs and make it easier to make payment.
Thai Kieu Huong, deputy chairwoman of the Viet Nam-Africa-Middle East Business Forum, called on the Government to set up foreign affairs agencies and sign free trade agreements with Africa's francophone countries to improve conditions for businesses from both sides.
Activities to provide information about each other's markets should also be enhanced, she said.
Ninh said Viet Nam would try its best to foster ties between African francophone countries and ASEAN and create favourable conditions for businesses and investors from the two sides to collaborate.
With the prospect of wrapping up 14 important free trade agreements in 2015-20, Viet Nam could become an important link in the Asia-Pacific economic system and the ASEAN Economic Community, he said.
Loc said that with their complementary economic structures, Viet Nam and African countries have great potential to boost trade.
Viet Nam can export more rice, computers, garment and textile, and electronic products to the region and import raw materials such as cashew, cotton, timber, and others, he said.
Torek Farhadi, senior adviser at the International Trade Centre, said, "African countries look to exchange of information and technology with Viet Nam to benefit from the lessons learnt from its rapid development over the last 30 years." — VNS