ICHAM Chairman: Vietnam offers an opportunity that Italian investors cannot ignore 

10:56:01 AM | 3/6/2019

This affirmation comes from Mr. Michele D'Ercole, Chairman of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (ICHAM), ahead of the 3rd edition of "High-level Dialogue on Italian-ASEAN Economic Relations" to be organized in Hanoi in June  2019, with the gathering of many large enterprises from Italy and ASEAN. Bui Lien reports.

Could you please tell us about the trade and investment ties between Vietnam and Italy in the last five years?

Italian investors are showing increasing interest in Vietnam. The amount of investment in this Southeast Asian country is increasing every year, as well as the overall size of trade between the two economic partners. From the beginning of 2019 until now, Vietnam - Italy trade reached US$3.2 billion of import and export turnover, including exports from Italy to Vietnam of US$800 million and imports from Vietnam of US$2.4 billion. Vietnam-Italy trade has grown significantly in the last five years. In 2014 the two-way trade turnover reached only US$2.3 billion, it nearly doubled in 2015 to US$4.1 billion and was maintained in the next two years 2016-2017 at US$4.68 billion and US$4.3 billion, then increased in 2018 to US$4.6 billion.

The leading products in Italian exports to Vietnam are machinery and equipment, followed by leather goods, materials for producing bags, leather shoes, metal products, chemicals and food and pharmaceuticals. Goods imported from Vietnam to Italy are mostly computers and electronic products, and have lower value than leather products, agricultural products, fisheries and forestry, as well as garments. All have grown compared to the same period last year.

How could you assess potential cooperation between the two countries?

In my opinion, bilateral trade between Vietnam and Italy has developed strongly in recent years, but the investment and trade situation between Vietnam and Italy is not really filling the potential and needs of the two countries. Currently, many Italian projects have been present in Vietnam, Italian companies have participated in a number of industrial projects in Vietnam, typically in the mechanical field. Daniel's steel working equipment was present in more than 10 projects in Vietnam, including Vietnam - Italy Steel Plant, Phu My Steel Plant. Many Vietnamese furniture and stone processing factories are using Italian machinery and technology. Italy is Vietnam's fourth largest trading partner in the EU and Vietnam is Italy's largest trading partner in ASEAN.

The implementation of the Free Trade Agreement between Vietnam and the European Union is expected to create a further increase in trade relations between Italy and Vietnam. After the agreement comes into effect, 65% of import duties on European exports to Vietnam will be removed and the remaining tasks will be liberalized within ten years. Therefore, Vietnam offers an opportunity that Italian investors cannot ignore.

What are the highlights of cooperation between Hanoi and some localities of Italy or Italian enterprises?

Currently, Italian aid in Vietnam is mainly used in the social sector such as infrastructure development and human resource development; developing production areas and bringing Vietnamese goods to the global market; and poverty reduction. Hanoi is one of the key cities to invest for Italian businesses. In 2018, Italy had 21 investment projects in Hanoi with a total capital of more than US$38 million, Hanoi's export turnover to Italy reached US$142 million. The number of Italian tourists to Hanoi ranks 15th in the tourist market to Hanoi. I believe that in the future, Italian businesses will pay more attention to your capital, and Hanoi needs to further improve its infrastructure, public policies and procedures to facilitate investing by Italian businesses.

In addition, I would like to say more about the field of Italian tourism with many world famous scenic places, hoping that in the coming time tourism between the two countries will be promoted, we look forward to welcoming you to visit our country.

Thank you very much!