Malaysia-Vietnam bilateral trade this year is expected to garner over 10 billion USD (33.8 million RM) just last year's, Malaysian Ambassador to Vietnam Datuk Azmil Mohd Zabidi said.

Although the trade value seemed to be small, but it is an encouraging figure as Vietnam is still at the early stages of development, he told Bernama after attending a dinner with the Malaysian contingent to the ASEAN Skills Competition in Hanoi on October 27.

He said the trade ties should be further enhanced so as to benefit from close relations between Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi.

Azmil said the bilateral ties had opened doors in the areas of trade and investment for both countries and it was expected to grow rapidly in future.

He said Malaysia's investment in Vietnam reached 20 billion USD (65.5 billion RM) over the past 20 years and currently, more than 400 Malaysian companies were doing business with Vietnam, mostly in real estate projects.

Malaysian companies seeking foreign labour should turn to Vietnam as it is equipping its youths with skills for the plantation and manufacturing sectors before sending them to work abroad, he said, adding that currently, about 20,000 Vietnamese workers were working in Malaysia.

He said with a population of about 90 million, Vietnam provided a significant opportunity in real estate development and Malaysian products.

"In fact, Malaysian companies are involved in about 450 projects worth 11 billion USD (36 billion RM) either wholly owned or on joint-venture basis," he said.

He said currently, about 1,500 Malaysian entrepreneurs were registered with the Malaysian Embassy in Vietnam, 700 of them were doing business in Ho Chi Minh City while the rest in Hanoi.

Azmil said apart from enhancing trade and investment between both countries, the embassy was also ironing out constraints faced by Malaysian companies operating in Vietnam.-VNA