A business conference was held in Hanoi on July 3 to boost cooperation between Vietnamese and Portuguese companies.

Organised by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the event attracted 20 businesses from the two countries.

Two-way trade increased significantly in recent years, from 100 million USD in 2008 to 170 million USD in 2011, said Vu Anh Duc, a spokesman for the chamber.

The figures, however, failed to match potential, Duc said. They needed to be higher.

" Vietnam is speeding up economic reforms with a focus on facilitating the development of the private sector, perfecting legal frameworks and improving infrastructure," he said. "During the process, we will create good conditions for foreign businesses."

Helena Ramos, manager of business services for the Portuguese Entrepreneurial Association, said the two business communities needed to meet to develop projects and seek trade partners.

During the event, Vietnamese and Portuguese firms discussed publication, food processing, recycled industrial products, construction machinery, plastic films and the production of animal feed.

Albano Martins, sales manager of Casfil, a Portuguese company that makes flexible film for packaging, said: " Vietnam is a big market for the packaging sector and we came here to find potential partners."-VNA