Vietnam seeks to develop its relationship with Nigeria in economics, trade, industry and investment, a Vietnamese trade official said, considering the country as a large, potential market in Africa and an economic gateway to neighbouring countries in western and central Africa.

Addressing the Vietnam-Nigeria Business Forum in Hanoi on Nov. 28, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Le Duong Quang said the ministry has chosen Nigeria – a key African market of almost 160 million people – to create opportunities for Vietnam ’s exports.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Nigeria in 2010 exceeded 155 million USD, up 56 percent over 2009. By the end of October this year, two-way trade exceeded 121 million USD.

Vietnam exports mainly garment products, computers and electronic spare parts, automobile components, seafood, chemicals, rice, machines and equipment to Nigeria .

According to the Vietnamese trade office in Nigeria , the African country has a great demand for rice and seafood, and it imports 1.5-1.7 million tonnes of rice each year.

Nigerian Minister of State for Trade and Investment Samuel Ioraer Ortom said his country is the biggest seafood consumer in Western Africa , using around 1.4 million tonnes a year.

According to Tunde Ajisomo, Head of the Diplomatic Delegation of the Nigerian Embassy in Vietnam , the two governments signed the Trade Agreement 2011 with the aim of facilitating business activities between the two countries.

Hundreds of Nigerian traders arrive in Vietnam each year to seek new partners, while some of them have established representative offices in Ho Chi Minh City . The Nigerian firms see Vietnam as a good replacement for Chinese partners.

A number of Vietnamese enterprises have sought investment opportunities in Nigeria . On July 5, 2011 FPT Joint Stock Company of Vietnam signed a cooperative agreement with the 21 st Century Technologies of Nigeria, to promote cooperation in telecoms, education and computer equipment production.

Deputy Minister Le Duong Quang suggested the two governments create favourable legal frameworks for enterprises from both nations, adding that the two countries should strengthen the exchange of visits at all levels and organise workshops and business forums in the near future.

Samuel Ioraer Ortom said the Nigerian government introduced economic reforms to gain high growth, maintain macroeconomic stability and strictly manage tax, in order to create a favourable environment for foreign investors.

At the event, Nigerian businesses showed interest in Vietnam ’s export products. They signed a number of business deals for bulbs, batteries, pharmaceutical and farm products, animal feed and plastics./.