A workshop themed “Vietnam-Africa-Middle East: New partners for development” was held in Hanoi on September 7 to promote trade and investment between Vietnam and the regions.

In his opening speech, Vu Tien Loc, Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) said that Vietnam has diplomatic ties with almost every country in Africa and the Middle East . He added that Middle Eastern nations tend to have closer economic ties with Vietnam and accept more Vietnamese workers.

Loc also highlighted the increasing amount of investment and trade between Vietnam and these regions before representatives of 200 Vietnamese businesses and 20 African and Middle East companies.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and African nations increased to 4.77 billion USD in 2011 from 2.07 billion USD in 2009. However, the figure was estimated to have reached only 1.81 billion USD in the first eight months of this year.

Vietnamese exports to Africa are mainly rice, textiles products, footwear, electronic and mechanical products, plastic products and chemicals.

As of August this year, Vietnam had 17 projects currently operating in Africa , with a total investment of 1.2 billion USD.

Recent bilateral trade between Vietnam and Middle East countries has also seen a rise, recording 5.17 billion USD in 2011 and 3.95 billion USD from January to August this year.

Turkey , Saudi Arabia , Iraq and Israel are now Vietnam ’s major importers in the region.

Vietnam’s four investment projects to the Middle East have totalled over 84 million USD as by August this year.

At the workshop, the participants also pointed out the difficulties to be encountered by businesses, including a lack of accurate detailed information and complicated administrative procedures.

While proposing measures to develop economic and investment relations, Le Dang Dung from the Viettel Group said it was essential to make the Vietnam-Africa-Middle East Business Forum a venue for the three business communities to access more information on market and investment opportunities.

Later, the Vietnam-Africa-Middle East Business Forum was officially launched, to act as a bridge to promote trade and economic cooperation between all three business communities.-VNA