Vietnam is a country with vast potential and a key friend of the UK in South East Asia, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said prior to his official visit to Vietnam at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh.

A press release from the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) quoted the Foreign Secretary William Hague as saying that he is delighted to be visiting Vietnam – the first British Foreign Secretary to do so in 17 years.

Hague stressed that the Strategic Partnership which the UK and Vietnam signed in 2010 demonstrates the UK’s commitment to working with Vietnam both bilaterally and in the wider regional and international context, as Vietnam plays an increasingly important role on the global stage.

“During my visit, I will have the opportunity to explore with my Vietnamese hosts further ways for our countries to work even more closely together.”

The UK is one of Vietnam’s eight Strategic Partners in the world. Bilateral trade is growing fast: in 2011 exports of British products to Vietnam increased by 18 percent from the previous year and imports from Vietnam went up 37percent. Britain’s direct investment into Vietnam was 2.5 billion USD in 2011.

Vietnam is now among 12 high-growth and emerging markets in Asia that the British businesses are keen to promote trade with.-VNA