A senior Italian economist has called on more domestic firms to invest in Vietnam, which in his view is a market of huge potential and a springboard into other Southeast Asian (SEA) economies.

Vice President of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam Tommaso Andreatta made the call in a recent interview with Italy ’s largest economic daily Sun 24 hours.

With rich working experience with Vietnamese businesses and an insight into the SEA, Andreatta stressed that it is time Italian firms become aware of Vietnam’s potential and the opportunities awaiting them ahead, especially with ASEAN due to become a common economic bloc by 2015.

According to him, Vietnam is one of the key gateways for Italian enterprises to enter the greater production system in the SEA and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations with its 610 million people.

He hailed the country as one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia with a skilled workforce and a huge clientele base.

The Italian shoe sector has moved their production facilities away from China to Vietnam while heavy industry groups like Piaggio and Danieli have owned plants in Vietnam for quite a long time, considering it a hub of production and distribution to neighbouring countries.

Despite last year’s trade value reaching some 2.8 billion USD, the two- way trade has yet to match potential. Italy now ranks 29th out of the 98 countries and territories with the biggest investment in Vietnam.-VNA