Businesses in southern provinces are urged to attend a ministerial level forum on trade and investment between Vietnam and Latin America to be held in Hanoi early next month.

Addressing a press conference held on June 11on the first such forum to be held in the country, Nguyen Hoanh Nam , Deputy Director of the Americas Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said it was an important foreign affairs initiative aimed at boosting bilateral and multilateral trade and investment co-operation between Vietnam and Latin America .

The forum will be a good opportunity for businesses on both sides to exchange information, seek invest-ment opportunities and sign co-operation agreements, he said.

Delegates from 27 Latin American countries including ministers and deputy ministers in charge of international trade and investment, represent-atives from Latin American embassies in Vietnam and representatives of businesses from the continent operating in Vietnam or interested in doing business here are expected to participate in the forum.

The prospects for trade and investment ties between Vietnam and Latin American countries are huge, Nam said.

With a GDP of more than 5.5 trillion USD and a population of 580 million, Latin America represents great investment opportunities for Vietnamese companies.

Vietnam 's main exports to Latin American countries are rice, textiles, seafood, rubber and coffee. It imports animal feed, raw materials for textiles and garments, steel, chemicals and medicine.

To date, Vietnamese firms have pledged to invest 7 billion USD in the region while Latin American countries plan to invest 3 billion USD in Vietnam .

The forum will look into the background of Vietnam – Latin America relations; potentials and opportunities; advantages and obstacles to trade, economic and investment relations between the two sides; and co-operation orientations.-VNA