A seminar on the business and investment environment in Vietnam and Latin America took place in Hanoi on July 5, as part of the ministerial level forum between the two sides.

The seminar discussed the potential for cooperation and current opportunities as well as measures to boost economic relations between Vietnam and Latin American countries for their mutual development and prosperity.

The event was attended by more than 200 delegates from Vietnam and Latin America .

During the seminar, representatives from the Latin American countries highlighted their potential, advantages, stable business environment and legal frameworks to potential Vietnamese partners.

They said they hope that the first ever Vietnamese-Latin American forum will mark a significant milestone in their economic partnership, whereby Vietnam will act as a gateway for these countries to penetrate markets in Southeast Asia .

Cuba ’s Vice Minister for Foreign Trade and Investment Antonio Caricarrte, said that Vietnam is Cuba ’s second biggest trading partner in Asia and in 1999 it became the country’s major rice supplier.

Cuba has a great potential to step up exports of bio-technological products to Vietnam while Vietnamese businesses can invest in the hospitality industry and real estate on the Island State .

Nathan Wolf Lustbader, the director general in charge of International Economic Cooperation and Promotion at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Mexico is convinced that the Trans-Pacific Strategic Agreement on Economic Partnership (TPP) will add impetus to the economic and commercial relationship the two countries already share.

“We are confident that this agreement will strengthen relations between Mexico and Vietnam ,” he said.

Also on July 5, two other seminars were held, focusing on transportation, logistics, telecommunications, services, agriculture and energy.

Speaking at one, Vietnam ’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs discussed the potential for cooperation between different regions and provinces in Vietnam and Latin America .

Vietnam ’s total trade turnover last year was 200 billion USD. More than 13,700 FDI projects are currently operating in the country, with a combined registered capital of 200 billion USD and it has over 700 overseas investment projects totalling in excess of 12 billion USD.

With a GDP of over than 5.5 trillion USD and a population of 580 million, Latin America represents a superb investment opportunity for many Vietnamese companies.

Vietnam ’s main exports to Latin America include rice, textiles, seafood, rubber and coffee. The country imports animal feed, raw materials for textiles and garments, steel, chemicals and medicine.

Later the same day, President Truong Tan Sang said that the forum heralded the start of a new era, when he received the heads of the Latin American delegations.

He said the forum will help to deepen ties and bring economic and trade cooperation between Vietnam and Latin America to a new level.

“ Vietnam will create the best possible conditions for Latin American businesses to operate in the country,” the State leader confirmed.

He said he hopes that Latin American governments facilitate Vietnamese businesses in a similar fashion.

On the sidelines of the forum, a series of bilateral meetings were held between senior Vietnamese officials and the heads of Latin American delegations.

Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh received Jose Miguel Mejia, a Minister from the Dominican Republic while Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Phuong Nga met with her counterparts from Brazil and El Salvador.

The heads of the Ministries of Industry and Trade, Planning and Investment, Science and Technology, Natural Resources and Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry met with representatives from the Dominican Republic , Brazil , Colombia , El Salvador and Argentina .

During their meetings, the Latin American delegates praised Vietnam for organising the forum, which they said is an excellent opportunity for businesses from both continents to boost future cooperation.

They said they are keen for further cooperation in sectors such as agriculture, telecommunications, the oil and gas industry, infrastructure development, vehicle assembly and the manufacture of consumer goods.

A number of representatives from Brazil, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador also said that their countries will very seriously consider recognising Vietnam as a market economy.-VNA