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The first ever Vietnam-Latin America Forum on Trade and Investment hosted by Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs will take place from July 5-6, 2012 in Hanoi with around 20 countries in Central and South American and Caribbean regions attending. This unique event aims to effectively tap diverse potentials in economic, trade and investment cooperation, bringing the relationships between Vietnam and countries in Latin-American region to a new high which is commensurate with the long-lasting and fine traditional political relations between the two sides.
To date, the relationships between Vietnam and Latin America region rooted on the similarities in the national resistance history of the two sides.
Chilean Senate president Salvador Allende came to visit Vietnam and met Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh in 1969 and visit by Cuba’s President Fidel Castro to Quang Tri liberated zone in 1973 manifested heartfelt support by Latin American people to Vietnam’s fight for national liberation and reunification striving for independence and freedom of Vietnamese people.
Right in the war, Vietnam established diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1960, Chile in 1971 and Argentina in 1973.
After Vietnam’s solemn victory in 1975 leading to national liberation and reunification, the political and diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Latin American countries have expanded phenomenally. During 1975-1980, Vietnam established diplomatic ties with 10 countries in the Latin American region. Vietnamese came side-by-side with Latin Americans in their national resistance for independence, democracy and social progress. For their part, Latin Americans strongly supported Vietnamese people to join the United Nations in 1977 as well as to heal war consequences, boost international cooperation and fight against trade embargo and blockage measures.
Since Vietnam embraced economic reforms in 1986, the country’s relations with Latin American countries have stepped into a new development era. From 1986 on, Vietnam developed ties with 14 countries in this region. Visits and contacts between Vietnamese and Latin American top-brass took place more frequently, from there crafting the framework for comprehensive partnership relations between Vietnam and some Latin American countries. Dozens of cooperative treaties were inked, creating an enabling legal corridor to facilitate all-rounded cooperation between the two sides.
As of 2012, Vietnam had set up diplomatic ties with 27 Latin American countries as well as established inter-governmental joint cooperative committees with five countries. The past decade had witnessed nine visits by Vietnam’s top leaders to countries in Latin American region and 10 visits by their counterparts to Vietnam. Vietnam has placed seven embassies in this region whereas eight Latin American countries put their embassies in Hanoi.
Incessantly developing traditional friendship and political relations have laid firm foundations for expanding and fostering multi-faceted relations between Vietnam and Latin American countries, especially in trade and investment. The mutual trade value shot up sharply from $300 million in 2000 to $5.1 billion in 2011. The two-way trade value between Vietnam and the region’s three leading economies Brazil, Mexico and Argentina surpassed $1 billion. Vietnam’s total committed capital into Latin American countries came to around $7 billion, concentrating in energy and telecommunications.
Notwithstanding, the relations between Vietnam and Latin American countries, particularly in trade and economics, are just at the onset. There are a cocktail of factors which envisage a bright perspective in the mutual cooperation in the years to come.
First, Vietnam and Latin American countries have nurtured a good traditional friendship foundation and shared strong determination to deepen mutual relations servicing the development course of each side. The Vietnamese government always treasures and wants to foster relations with Latin American friends, taking countries in this region as potential partners in modernisation and development. For its part, Latin American countries attaches an increasing importance to developing relations with Asia, including Vietnam for mutual growth.
Second, many potential for economic cooperation remains untapped, leaving big room to further mutual investment and trade relations. Latin American countries can deploy investment projects in Vietnam in their advantageous areas like petroleum and mineral extracting and processing, traditional and renewable energy development, infrastructure construction, pharmaceuticals, food and agricultural item processing.
For their part, Vietnamese companies have a chance to bring forth their potential in rice production, aquaculture, household electronic appliance production, agricultural machinery, telecom services, shipbuilding, auto and motorbike assembly and manufacture when stepping into the Latin American market.
Third, favourable economic and political climate worldwide in the forthcoming period will help facilitate the relationships between Vietnam and Latin American countries. The trend for economic and political integration in these two regions will pave the way for outside partners to become increasingly accessible to these vast regional markets. Inter-regional cooperation via diverse mechanisms such as cooperative alliances like APEC, TPP or ASEAN-MERCOSUR will entail opportunities to bring nations at two ends of the Pacific Ocean closer.
In this context, the Vietnam-Latin American Forum on Trade and Investment will be an effective platform for Vietnamese and Latin American partners to meet and deepen mutual understanding as well as boost trade and investment relations. This showcases the Vietnamese government’s commitment to lift up the relationships between Vietnamese and Latin American friends to a new high serving the interests of their people, for peace, stability, cooperation and development in these two regions and the world over.