Virus not enough to rock the boat of Italian-Vietnamese goods exchange

15:00 | 25/03/2020
Many countries in the EU are being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and  have closed all external borders for 30 days at least. Paolo Lemma, the Italian Trade Commissioner to Vietnam and director of the Italian Trade Agency in Ho Chi Minh City shared with VIR’s Vy Nguyen how the pandemic will affect the economic ties between Italy and Vietnam.
virus not enough to rock the boat of italian vietnamese goods exchange
Paolo Lemma, the Italian Trade Commissioner to Vietnam and director of the Italian Trade Agency in Ho Chi Minh City

How will this entry ban to the EU affect trade flows between Vietnam and Italy?

The travel ban introduced in Europe, but also in Vietnam and elsewhere, should be a temporary measure and it is required until the virus can be brought under control.

However, travel restrictions will not apply to those people with an essential function or need, including staff engaged in the transport of goods into the EU.

Therefore, the entry ban should not penalise trade flows between Italy and Vietnam too much, as well as with other partner countries.

Every year, many delegations from Italy visit Vietnam to explore business opportunities and find local partners. Given that Italy is currently hit hard by the coronavirus, what are the prospects for business activities between Italy and Vietnam for the remainder of the year?

The pandemic has arrived at a moment when the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) was supposed to have a number of activities, including the signature of a co-operation agreement with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the Italian Design Day events organised jointly with the embassy in Hanoi and consulate general in Ho Chi Minh City; and the opening of the Technological Training Center for the marble industry in Luc Yen district in the northern province of Yen Bai, in partnership with the Vietnam Association for Building Materials and Luc Yen White Marble Association. An official business participation at the Propak-Printech exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City has also been postponed until September, and other important initiatives in the agro-tech and agro-food sectors have been rescheduled to the second half of 2020.

As soon as the situation allows, we will be ready to take up these activities again.

With the travel restrictions and increasing number of infection cases in Italy, what are the main challenges for Vietnamese exporters, and how will the crisis affect Italian companies and investors here?

We would like to reassure Vietnamese companies trading with Italy that the Italian production and supply of goods and services as well as overseas shipments continue.

The Italian government adopted an emergency decree worth €25 billion ($26.9 billion), a massive stimulus package to shield the economy from coronavirus and sustain the affected companies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises.

The government has also put in place a first set of financial measures to help Italian exporting companies and announced that both a special fund for the promotion of Made in Italy and a fund for export finance will be used for the recovery of Italian export in strategic markets, including Vietnam.

The whole Italian institutional system comprised of the embassy, consulate general, and the ITA, as well as the Italian Chamber of Commerce is ready to support Italian businesses in Vietnam in terms of adaptive services such as market research and analysis, networking connections, data analysis, and institutional relations with local authorities in order to help face the immediate consequences of the COVID-19 emergency.

As soon as the emergency is over, we are also ready to engage in a wide communication campaign to explain to the Vietnamese public that the Made in Italy brand is alive and well, and will make clear to our partners that the underlying elements of Italian excellence remain unchanged: quality, innovation, sustainability, customer care, beauty, tradition, and much more.

The information campaign on the future entry into force of the EVFTA and its opportunities gives us a timely platform to raise our profile.

By Vy Nguyen

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