Latin American markets offer a mine of untapped potential for Vietnamese enterprises to penetrate and expand their businesses.

That was the message from the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency at a conference in Hanoi on May 30.
Vietnam now has trade relations with all 33 countries and territories in the region with total export and import turnover of 5.5 billion USD in 2012, accounting for 3 percent of the country's total.

However, there was potential for this figure to further increase, said the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Deputy Director of the American Market Department Tran Huy Dong.

Dong pointed out that demand for imported products in the region – which has a total population of more than 600 million - was huge and most had a taste for foreign products.

According to Do Viet Phuong, Trade Counsellor of Vietnam in Cuba , the prices and quality of Vietnamese products were appropriate for the demand of regional consumers.

Some countries were even faced with a scarcity of goods, so all types of products were wanted, he added.
The region's technical and hygiene standards for imported products were not as tight as those for Europe or the US market, Phuong said, adding that several Governments now had policies to diversify goods suppliers, including Asian countries like Vietnam.

However, the long distance, language barrier and lack of market information remained difficulties for Vietnamese enterprises seeking to penetrate Latin American markets, experts said.

The geographical issues would push up transport costs and reduce the competitiveness of Vietnamese products, while Vietnamese products would face stiff competition from other Asian countries including China and India .-VNA