Vietnam and the UK expect to expand their trade and investment ties following the recent inauguration of a Ho Chi Minh City-based business centre by the British Business Group Vietnam (BBGV), radio The Voice of Vietnam (VOV) reported on June 12.

Two-way trade turnover between Vietnam and the UK has been steadily increasing in recent years, from just 1.15 billion USD in 2008 to 4.26 billion USD in 2013.

Vietnam has achieved an annual export growth of 17 percent, and it currently enjoys a healthy surplus in trade with the UK.

Vietnam and the UK established a strategic partnership in 2010, targeting to raise bilateral trade to 4 billion USD in 2013; however, that benchmark was surpassed in 2013 when trade hit a value of 4.27 billion USD.

Vietnam mainly exports seafood, vegetables and fruit, cashew nut, coffee, tea, pepper, plastic products, rubber, bags, wallets, hats, umbrellas, bamboo products, garments, footwear, computers and electronic components to the UK.

Its major imports include machinery, equipment, chemicals and chemical products, pharmaceuticals, fertilisers, garment and footwear accessories, cotton, and steel.

According to Vietnam Customs statistics, Vietnam’s exports to the UK hit 1.16 billion USD in the first four months of this year.

The UK is a dynamic market that has its own criteria, besides EU regulations. To boost exports to the market, domestic businesses are advised to grasp its regulations on brand names with a clear country of origin (C/O), weight, size and components.

British businesses have invested in Vietnam since 1988-1989; however, they have mainly concentrated their investment in oil and gas. In recent years, they have begun to expand their investment in other fields in banking, finance, manufacturing industry, services and garment.

To support British operations in Vietnam, the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the BBGV opened the business centre to serves as a bridge between British and Vietnamese businesses through supplying services, such as market research, business connectivity activities, trade events, and consultancy.

It also helps UK businesses seek potential partners and conduct training courses on the business environment.

The establishment of the centre demonstrates the UK’s confidence in the Vietnamese market. The British Government chose Vietnam as a pilot market to carry out the Overseas Business Networks Initiative (OBNI), and the newly-established centre will help enhance the capacity of the business support system globally.

In the future, the UKTI and the BBVG will jointly support British businesses in market promotion, accession, development and expansion.

According to the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, as of the end of May 2014 the UK ranked 17th among the foreign investors in Vietnam with 118 projects totally capitalised at 2.8 billion USD.-VNA