Italy looks to strong trade, investment ties with Vietnam
By Mong Binh – The Saigon Times Daily
HCMC – Italian officials are pinning hopes on strong Italian investment and trade relations with Vietnam in years to come as more Italian companies are showing keen interest in the steadily growing Vietnamese economy.
Marco Saladini, Italian trade commissioner in Vietnam, said the increasing interest of Italian companies was demonstrated by the Vietnam visit by over 160 Italian businesses.
“This is the biggest Italian trade mission to Vietnam,” Saladini told the Daily after Thursday’s seminar in HCMC, where investment officials from the southern and central regions of Vietnam told the Italian businesses about opportunities in their localities.
Two-way trade between Vietnam and Italy has grown from US$320 million in 1996 to US$1.5 billion in 2007. Saladini expected bilateral trade would leap.
Umberto Vattani, president of the Italian Trade Commission, told the seminar that the Italian visiting businesses were active in almost all industries in Italy and that they were touring Vietnam from November 4 to 7 to explore business opportunities in various fields.
Vattani said the Italian businesses had had more than 800 meetings, including business-to-business ones with 160 Vietnamese firms in Hanoi, the first leg of their Vietnam trip.
Vattani said the Italian visiting businesses were ready to meet with their counterparts in HCMC and elsewhere. “They gauge business opportunities not only in southern Vietnam but also Danang and other parts of coastal localities,” he said.
Vattani said the Italian firms currently operating in Vietnam had given their positive comments on Vietnam and that this was why many more Italian companies were looking to seize business opportunities in Vietnam. “This trip is their first move in this market.”
“I expect there will be a new wave of Italian investment in Vietnam in the first half of 2009â¦ I’m quite optimistic about this,” Saladini said.
Saladini noted Italian investment in Vietnam was small as Italian companies had invested only US$114 million in 28 projects in this country. He said the geographical distance, the lack of information about this market and differences were among the main reasons.
Saladini, however, said things would change as more Italian companies had realized “huge potential in Vietnam andâ¦ golden opportunities for partnerships” with Vietnamese counterparts.
Italian ambassador to Vietnam Andrea Perugini said machinery, infrastructure, food processing, health and environment were among the areas in Vietnam that captured the interest of the Italian companies.
These were also among the areas where Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Dong Nai, Can Tho, Danang and HCMC said they needed foreign investment.
Nguyen Anh Ngoc, deputy director of HCMC’s Investment and Trade Promotion Center, said the city would need total investment capital of US$45 billion until 2010, including US$25 billion for urban infrastructure and public utilities.
Le Thanh An of Can Tho City’s Investment Promotion Center, said the Mekong Delta city was looking for investment capital of more than US$56 billion between now and 2010, with over up to US$45.7 billion for infrastructure development.
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