Vietnam wants to be Sierra Leone’s long-term rice supplier: minister hinh anh 1Workers load bags of rice for exports. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Vietnam always wishes to be a long-term and stable rice supplier for Sierra Leone as its domestic production has not yet met the demand, Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien said at a recent meeting with Sierra Leone’s counterpart Edward Hinga Sandy.

Dien appreciated the latter's proposal for considering the re-signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on rice trade to strengthen the legal framework for cooperation activities relating to the matter between the two countries. In particular, the two sides agreed to create conditions for their businesses in conducting rice import and export.

According to Dien, Sierra Leone is like a promised land, and Vietnamese businesses also want to invest in this market. The Vietnamese minister said he hopes to receive a proposal from the Sierra Leona soon and favourable conditions will be created for Vietnamese businesses when they pour capital into the country.

For his part, Sierra Leone’s minister emphasised that the current trade relationship between the two countries is still relatively modest and there is still a lot of room to promote bilateral trade, diversify goods exchange, as well as increase cooperation activities in other fields.

He said Vietnam has made many strides in terms of technology, especially in the manufacturing sector, which is an area where Sierra Leone is aiming to learn from its experience.

Sandy said Sierra Leone wants to study the possibility of a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA), saying Vietnam will have the opportunity to expand the market to the African region.

As information about the Sierra Leone market is still very limited in Vietnam, Vietnamese businesses do not know much about this market. Thus, the two sides pledged to strengthen the exchange of information on trade and investment policies, import and export management regulations, business cooperation opportunities, the demands of the business community through the Sierra Leone Embassy in China and the Asia-Africa Market Department under the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Sierra Leone’s minister also suggested Vietnam encourage its enterprises to invest in the country in the fields of manufacturing, agricultural processing, fisheries, wood processing, textiles, cement and building materials production.

The two sides also agreed that there is great potential to expand investment cooperation in Sierra Leone, thereby taking advantage of export opportunities to the markets of countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Africa in general.

The two ministers assigned relevant units to continue discussing and developing plans to implement specific cooperation contents.

Statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Trade showed that two-way trade between the two countries has reached 51.5 million USD last year and a growth of 27 percent per year in the 2017-2021 period. Notably, Vietnam's export turnover to Sierra Leone hit 50 million USD and the import turnover from this market was only 1.5 million USD./.