HANOI, July 6 (Xinhua) -- The two-day Vietnam-Latin America Trade and Investment Forum, the first of this kind ever held in Vietnam, was wrapped up on Friday, which is believed to create a breakthrough in expanding friendship, mutual understanding and trade cooperation between Vietnam and Latin American countries.
Themed "Vietnam-Latin America: Trade and Investment Partners for Development", the forum drew participation of ministerial and local leaders and representatives from over 200 Latin American and Vietnamese businesses.
The main agenda focused on three major issues including business investment, transport, logistics, telecom and services connectivity, and partnership in agriculture and energy among participating countries.
To date, Vietnamese firms have pledged to invest 7 billion U.S. dollars in Latin American while countries in the region plan to invest 3 billion U.S. dollars in Vietnam. Bilateral trade has grown at a high rate, but still does not match the potential of both sides, said Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at the opening ceremony.
Vietnam has trade ties with over 30 markets in Latin America. The two-way trade between Vietnam and the Latin American region increased from 300 million U.S. dollars in 2000 to 5.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2011.
Vietnam is a potential market with a population of nearly 90 million and strategically positioned in Southeast Asia. The country is a member of a number of regional and international trade mechanisms,said Dung.
Meanwhile, Latin America has more than 570 million people, with a total GDP of over 5,500 billion U.S. dollars. The region has diverse natural resources, science and technology potentials and huge goods demand, which is very promising for Vietnamese exports, he said.
Vietnam wants to boost trade and investment cooperation in the fields of oil and gas, energy, consumer goods and seafood as well as import raw materials from Latin American countries, Dung said.
Gabriel Duque Mildenberg, Colombian vice minister of foreign trade and regional coordinator of East Asia-Latin America Forum, said that this is a good time for Latin American countries and Vietnam to set up a legal foundation. The forum would help foster mutual understanding and linkages.
Regarding the modest trade and investment cooperation between Vietnam and the region, Vu Tien Loc, president of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the main reasons were language barriers, geographical distances and shortage of information and understanding.
During the forum, a seminar on the Vietnam-Latin America Business and Investment Environment was held.
Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang met with heads of Latin American delegations. He vowed to create favorable conditions for Latin American enterprises to do business in Vietnam and hoped that the governments of Latin American countries would provide similar support for Vietnamese enterprises.