On the occasion the Forum on Economic Cooperation between Vietnam and partners from the Middle East and North Africa to be organised on November 4-5, Vietnam Business Forum introduces an article by Ahmed Ali Almualla, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Vietnam.

Bilateral relations to be diversified

We are delighted at the distinguished record of active cooperation ever since we established diplomatic relations in 1993. Today, our two countries have continued an effective cooperation in politics, trade, investment, culture, education and labour, as well as reinforced high-ranking visits and friendly exchanges.

Additionally, many investment and trade promotion delegations between the two countries have been underway over the last time. Both UAE and Vietnam always stand to support and coordinate with each other in international forums. We share a common point of view of international issues, regional security.

Bilateral trade turnover has rapidly increased over the past 10 years from 67 million USD in 2002 to more than 2.4 billion USD in 2012. During the first quarters of 2013, the bilateral trade was estimated about 3.4 billion USD. It is therefore predicted to reach over 4 billion USD for the whole year 2013. Vietnam has often a trade surplus with UAE. So far, the UAE has become the leading market for Vietnam's exports in the Middle East and North Africa, and is acknowledged as one of the top ten trade partners of Vietnam. Meanwhile, the UAE has invested extensively in Vietnam through many projects. The UAE’s companies also accept a large number of employees of Vietnam who play a major role in the development of the UAE and we look forward to increasing the number in the coming years.

Recently, the launch of direct flights Dubai – Ho Chi Minh City by Emirates Airlines in 2012 and Abu Dhabi - Ho Chi Minh City by Etihad Airways in 2013 - the two of the world’s fastest growing airlines, have expanded their global network with daily service between UAE – Vietnam that has contributed further the development of trade, investment and tourism between the two countries. Indeed, our direct flights have met the travel demand for tourism and business purposes as well as cargo transportation between Vietnam’s bustling trade hub of Ho Chi Minh City and the UAE, the Middle East and the EU.

UAE - potential market for Vietnamese enterprises

With its strategic location, comprehensive infrastructure, more than 30 state-of-the-art free zones throughout the country and open economy policies to attract foreign investment, the UAE is the second biggest economy in the Middle East and also plays an important role in the region’s business and economic affairs.
Besides Abu Dhabi, Dubai is not only a big consumption market, but also an important re-export centre for other countries in the region as well as the third biggest re-export centre globally. The Emirate takes up 75 percent of total imports of the UAE, Dubai takes up 82 percent of non-oil exports of the UAE, Dubai accounts for 78 percent of total re-exports of the UAE to other Arab countries and the MENA markets.

Every year, a large number of international exhibitions and trade fairs are held in Dubai, which are good opportunities for Vietnamese businesses to look for UAE partners. We look forward more Vietnamese companies to participate in the fairs and exhibitions i.e. Gulfood, Index, Big 5, Dubai Seafood, Autumn Fairs, Garment and Textile Exhibition, Annual Festival for Global Village, Dubai Rice, etc.

More than 25 percent of the world’s top 500 companies currently base their regional headquarters and trade centres in the Emirate, a testament to the important role played by our country in the region’s business and economic affairs.

I think the Vietnamese Whole-sale Trade Centre established recently in Dubai in line with the Vietnam export strategy to 2020 that will be a venue to showcase Vietnamese products and organise workshops and seminars where Vietnamese companies can sign big export contracts. The centre is located near Dubai seaport which handles large volumes of goods shipped to the Middle East. The Middle East is a promising market, especially for agricultural products, since there is a population of more than 210 million while 60 percent of the food needs are imported.

In my opinion, the centre should showcase agro-forestry and fisheries products and furniture, textile and garments, products which UAE has high demand for, and which are prevalent in Vietnam.

Strengthening private sector cooperation

The activities of trade promotion agencies and the private sector of both sides should be strengthened further with a view to activate the agreed minutes after the first session of the Joint Committee for Cooperation between Vietnam and the UAE.

I am pleased to know that many companies from the UAE want to participate in trade fairs and exhibitions held in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, like Vietnam Expo as well as Vietnam companies to attend international trade fairs in the UAE over the last time. After that, many business contracts and deals can be signed between with the private companies of both sides.

Over the last time, Vietnamese businesses highly appreciated the initiative by UAE Embassy in coordination with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) to successfully organise the seminar on UAE-Vietnam Trade and Investment Cooperation Opportunities in three big cities of Vietnam, especially in the context of Vietnam strengthening its cooperation with other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Hopefully, more seminars and forums like this will be held in both countries to boost trade and investment in the coming time.-VNA