The Italian government and authorities of the nation's Lombardy region are seeking business opportunities with Vietnamese partners.

To further promote opportunities, a seminar on a cross-industry business mission to internationalise the Lombard, system in Vietnam was kicked off in Hanoi on Jan. 17 for officials from the region and Vietnamese partners to discuss the business opportunities.

All will be looking for meaningful business opportunities in a variety of sectors, ranging from automobile and motorcycle parts, to textile machinery and furniture, from paper to construction and pneumatic equipment and to plumbing and heating equipment.

Speaking at the seminar, Italian Ambassador to Vietnam Lorenzo Angeloni drew a picture of bilateral relations with a particular emphasis on the links with the prosperous and industrious Lombardy Region. One-to-one business meetings between Italian and Vietnamese companies and visits to local counterparts, industrial parks and associations will follow on Jan. 18 and 19.

The mission comes on the heels of a significant strengthening in bilateral trade relations. According to Italian official statistics, Italy 's exports to Vietnam grew 25 percent in the first nine months of 2010 as compared to the same period in 2009, while the reverse flow gained 17 percent.

Trade between Vietnam and Lombardy region has also steadily increased with an average annual growth rate of 9 percent during the 2001-09 period.

Notwithstanding this positive overall trend, exports from Lombardy to Vietnam in the first nine month of last year amounted to about 75 million EUR (99.4 million USD) or 87 percent of the level achieved in the same period in 2009.

On the other hand, imports from Vietnam into Lombardy grew rapidly, to an amount of 179 million EUR (237 million USD), 34 percent more than in 2009. Trade data is provisional and a clearer picture will be drawn when all of the year is accounted for.

"These links have recently been consolidated through an inter-institutional cooperation agreement that commits Lombardy and Vietnam to a closer partnership during the visit to Italy of Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung," said Marco Saladini, the Italian Trade Commissioner in Vietnam .

"The agreement facilitates, promotes and encourages cooperation in a number of fields, including the development of small and medium enterprises, through commercial relations that enhance the competitiveness and export capacity of the companies involved."

"I firmly believe this mission is an important pillar of this mutual support approach. Spearheaded by the 10 participating companies, it offers a chance to bring the excellence of Made in Lombardy goods to the large and promising Vietnamese market," Saladim said./.