In an interview with Vietnam Economic News, Argentine Ambassador to Vietnam Claudio Ricardo Gutierrez said that the Argentine Government was eager to further facilitate trade between Argentina and Vietnam. In the near future, as soon as the relevant authorities of both countries conclude their negotiations, Vietnamese seafood will gain access to the Argentine market.

* You have been the Argentine Ambassador to Vietnam for two months. Could you share your first feelings about Vietnamese culture and people?

Last year I had visited Vietnam for three weeks as a tourist. Then I found amazing its natural beauties, the hospitality and joyfulness of its people, as well as its distinctive and diverse culture.

Destiny brought me to this country again, now as an Ambassador. I could verify quickly that my impressions as tourist were confirmed again in my daily work and in my life in Hanoi. Vietnamese people are very friendly and cooperative.

Despite the wars and sufferings endured by the Vietnamese people in their fight against imperialism, they could keep a positive, free of any resentment, forward-looking spirit. It makes me surprised.

* How has the Argentine business community assessed the Vietnamese market?

The efforts of businesspeople, supported by trade promotion actions from governments, are overcoming the obstacles to trade posed by distance, language and cultural differences.

It is clear that the economies of both countries are complementary to each other. For example, Argentina is nowadays one of the main feedstuff suppliers for the poultry and pork industries in Vietnam.

With regard to food, I see in the Vietnamese market many good opportunities for Argentine dairy products, wines, beef, olive oil and fruit. The quality of these Argentine products is known worldwide, and I think Vietnamese consumers will demand them in the near future.

It is also worth mentioning pharmaceutical products, where Argentina has labs and experts, with advanced technologies for oncological and other complex drugs.

* However, Vietnamese-Argentine trade and investment exchange has been slow. What do you think about it?

Despite the long distance between Argentina and Vietnam as well as the negative impacts of the international crisis, the bilateral trade steadily increased to more than 1 billion USD in 2011. This is remarkable, taking into account that the bilateral trade amounted to only 30 million USD in 2000.

Imports of Vietnamese products from Argentina rank second among Latin American countries. Among these products, shoes, garments and rubber are the main ones.

The Argentine Government is eager to further facilitate trade between Argentina and Vietnam. In the near future, as soon as the sanitary authorities of both countries conclude their negotiations, Vietnamese seafood will gain access to the Argentine market.

As per investments, although there have been no investment flows between both countries so far, there are a few Argentine and Vietnamese companies, which are currently assessing investment projects. I take the opportunity to assure potential investors that they can count on the full support of the Argentine Embassy and certainly of the Argentine Government.

* What advice do you want to give to Vietnamese enterprises concerning preparations to enter the Argentine market?

My advice to Vietnamese companies interested in the Argentine market is very simple: after gathering some specific information on the market, take a week and go to Argentina in order to meet Argentine counterparts and look for the market opportunities on the ground.

* In your term as Argentine Ambassador to Vietnam, what is your solution to promote cooperation in economic development, trade and investment?

I think that mutual understanding is the key for cooperation. Therefore, we will work hard to facilitate the contacts between Argentine and Vietnamese institutions, companies and people in all fields, so they have more chances of developing projects of mutual interest.

I would be very happy if the relationship between Argentina and Vietnam by the end of my tenure becomes even stronger than now. By a stronger relationship I mean bigger flows of tourists, business people and artists as well as higher trade and investment exchanges, which are verifiable indicators that the Argentine and Vietnamese peoples are closer.

* 2013 marks 40 years of diplomatic ties between Vietnam and Argentina. Do you have any programme to celebrate the event?

An Argentinean Cultural Week is scheduled to be held in Vietnam in December. It will be a good opportunity to understand more about Argentina, its country and people. The festival has organised performances by Argentine artists, photography, traditional costume, and lacquer exhibitions; and lectures about Argentina throughout the week.

Before that, a Vietnam Film Week kicked off in the Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires on September 11 to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.-VNA