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NA Chairman attends Vietnam-Argentina business forum

National Assembly (NA) Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue attended the Vietnam-Argentina business forum in Buenos Aires on April 25 (local time), as part of his ongoing official visit to the Latin American country.

Addressing the forum, Cecilia Todesca Bocco, Secretary for International Economic Relations under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, said that the country is recovering after the COVID-19 pandemic, with GDP growth of 10.4% in 2021. Last year, the country enjoyed a record in export revenue at 102.8 billion USD, along with 81.5 billion USD in imports.

She highlighted the supplementary nature of the Argentine and Vietnamese economies. In the last five years, two-way trade expanded 54%, she said, adding that Vietnam has become the sixth largest trade partner of Argentina, with Argentina's exports of 3.2 billion USD and imports of 1.24 billion USD.

Argentina mostly exports beans and corn to Vietnam, while importing industrial products, footwear, rubber and machineries from the Southeast Asian country.

Cecilia Todesca Bocco held that there are plenty of rooms for the two sides to promote collaboration, underlining the need for them to strengthen cooperation among ministries, sectors and localities.

Highlighting Argentina's strengths in the food industry, she said that the country can support Vietnam in agricultural machinery and food processing.

The two sides also boast great cooperation in the field of energy and renewable energy, she said

Argentina, as the Chair of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), will continue to strengthen exchanges with Vietnam.

For his part, NA Vice Chairman Tran Quang Phuong reviewed the achievements of cooperation between the two countries over the past 50 years across many fields of politics, diplomacy, economy, trade, culture, education and science, in both bilateral and multilateral aspects and in both regional and international scale.

Particularly, since the two sides set up their comprehensive partnership in 2010, the Vietnam-Argentina relationship has enjoyed impressive progress, with economic - trade cooperation becoming a bright spot, he noted.

Phuong said that two-way trade has increased strongly to 4.88 billion USD in 2022 from only 378 million USD in 2007, making Argentina the fifth largest trade partner of Vietnam in the Latin American region and Vietnam the sixth biggest trade partner of Argentina globally.

Argentina is one of the leading suppliers of corn and animal feed to Vietnam. Regarding investment, Argentina currently has five projects in Vietnam, ranking 122 among the 140 countries and territories investing in Vietnam.

The two sides have conducted many joint projects in agriculture, anthropology-forensics, science and technology, he said.

Underlining Vietnam's resilience amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Phuong noted that last year, while many countries suffered minus growth, Vietnam posted a 3% economic expansion with GDP growth of 8.2%, and 9.1% increase in import-export revenue. The country was also listed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) among the 20 top countries in FDI attraction with 36,000 valid foreign-invested projects worth over 422 billion USD.

Currently, the scale of Vietnam's economy is about 409 billion USD, making it the 5th largest economy in Southeast Asia, while its per capita income has topped 4,100 USD, and trade scale hit more than 730 billion USD. Vietnam has signed 15 free trade agreements with more than 60 countries and territories, including the largest markets in the world, and increasingly diversified its markets, products and supply chains.

NA Vice Chairman Phuong said that Vietnam is ready to work with other countries, including Argentina, to seek measures to recover the global trade and supply chain.

He said he hopes Argentina, as a member of the Mercosur, will serve as a gateway for Vietnamese goods to enter the South American market. Meanwhile, Vietnam will act as a bridge connecting Argentina and the ASEAN as well as the Asia-Pacific region.

However, he pointed to difficulties facing businesses of both sides in trade activities, including a lack of a direct transport route, and suggested that the two sides diversity import-export products, improving and generally balancing bilateral trade.

Vietnam wishes to increase the export of high-quality products of its strength meeting the needs of the Argentine market such as textile products, leather and footwear, agricultural and aquatic products, wood and furniture, and construction materials. Meanwhile, Argentina can continue to export corn and soybeans with stable supply and prices to Vietnam, he proposed.

Alongside, the two sides should expand technical cooperation and investment partnership in promising areas such as hi-tech agriculture, mining and lithium production, agricultural product processing, agricultural green hydrogen gas production technology, biotechnology, health care, green energy, and AI technology, he said.

The official also underlined the need for an increase in trade and investment promotion activities, affirming that Vietnam always welcomes and provides optimal conditions for Argentine businesses to seek business and investment opportunities in Vietnam.

Together with fostering coordination in settling obstacles hindering economic cooperation, the two sides should consider the opening of their markets for each other's strong products following a suitable roadmap, he said.

The official said he hopes Vietnam and Argentina will resume negotiations on a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the Mercosur, which is expected to help create a breakthrough in improving the competitive advantages for businesses of both sides in penetrating each other's market.

At the forum, under the co-chair of Cecilia Todesca Bocco, Argentine Secretary for International Economic Relations, and Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai, participants exchanged information on each other's market and explored business and cooperation opportunities, especially in the areas of each other's strengths and demands./.