The second meeting of the Vietnam-Saudi Arabia Joint Committee on Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation opened on March 25 in Hanoi, with agenda focusing on joint programmes to ensure food and energy security.

According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Le Duong Quang, who headed the Vietnamese team at the committee, the two countries will drive their future coordination in such areas as agriculture and oil and gas.

Meanwhile, the two sides will also exert more efforts to realise the agreements reached during this meeting. They will work to speed up the negotiations for a number of agreements, including those on visa exemption for state officials and diplomats, investment encouragement and protection and affiliation between the two foreign ministries and two central banks.

Vietnam and Saudi Arabia also pledged to work harder for the prompt signing of an aviation transportation agreement, he added.

During the meeting, the two sides reviewed the partnership between the two countries since the first meeting, while discussing practical measures to boost partnership in various areas, including trade, industry, banking, investment, transport and communications.

Ahmed H. Salah, Deputy Minister of Economics-Planning, leader of the Saudi Arabian delegation, noted that strong growth has been seen in the bilateral cooperation since the previous sitting, emphasising that there is room for them to further their ties in other promising areas of strength.

According to statistics from the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade, two-way trade between Vietnam and Saudi Arabia has grown rapidly, hitting 1.71 billion USD in 2013 from 1.04 billion USD from 2011.

Last year alone, Vietnam ’s exports to Saudi Arabia reached 471.4 million USD, with major currency earners being agricultural products, seafood, rice and apparel.

Meanwhile, it imported 1.2 billion USD worth of goods from the Middle East country.

Deputy Minister Quang also presented a number of proposals to beef up cooperation between the two countries, including the increase of delegation exchanges and trade promotions.

He also suggested that Saudi Arabia continue realising the agreement on oil and gas and mining partnership, while creating more favourable conditions for the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group to expand its affiliation with Saudi Arabian partners.

Saudi Arabia should also encourage its businesses to invest more in Vietnam , he added, especially in agriculture.

Sharing Quang’s ideas, Ahmed H. Salah held that more efforts should be made to specify joint cooperation plans in the future.-VNA