Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said trade relations have been growing strongly over the years, almost doubling in the last five years to US$21.4 billion last year.
Besides markets that have had trade with Viet Nam for many years such as Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile, countries such as Panama, Colombia and Peru have emerged as new bright spots, he said.
Despite the difficulties in the global economy this year, trade between the two sides rose by 10.5 per cent in the first 10 months of the year to $18.7 billion. Viet Nam’s exports and imports were worth $10.2 billion and $8.6 billion, year-on-year increases of 5.3 per cent and 17.3 per cent.
“Latin America is not only a promising export market for Viet Nam's products such as textiles and garments, footwear and agricultural and aquatic products, but also an important source of supply of corn, soybean, animal feed and other products,” Hai said.
Speaking about investment, he said Viet Nam has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Latin America including Viettel Group's telecom projects in Peru and Haiti and by Viglacera Corporation and Thai Binh Company in Cuba in infrastructure development and consumer goods production.
In the opposite direction, $671 million has come from 21 countries into 114 projects, he said.
Viet Nam and its Latin American partners are also effectively implementing free trade deals to create leverage in economic, trade and investment ties, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Viet Nam-Chile Free Trade Agreement and the Viet Nam-Cuba Trade Agreement, he said.
Vo Van Hoan, vice chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee, said trade between the city and Latin America region was worth $1.25 billion in the first 11 months of the year, a year-on-year increase of 13.5 per cent.
“But the economic relationship … is still not commensurate with our good traditional relationship and there is still plenty of room for growth.”
Chu Manh Khoi, head of the Viet Nam Trade Office in Argentina, said that country has high demand for garments, footwear and coffee, and offers a good opportunity for Vietnamese firms.
But delegates said there are challenges due to the geographical distance and unavailability of direct flights, which result in high logistics costs, and lack information about each other’s market.
Hai said amid the complex international situation, especially regional and global geo-political instability, economic recession and high inflation, the governments on the two sides, industry business groups, trade and investment promotion organisations and business communities need to remove obstacles and improve efficiency in trade and investment.
Organised by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the city People’s Committee, the forum was followed by a B2B connection programme to exchange information and discuss co-operation that was attended by more than 100 Vietnamese and 28 Latin American businesses in agriculture, food, garment and textiles, healthcare, and others.
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