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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   8 December 2012 

Vietnam eyes EU trade potential


Vietnam and four central and eastern European countries – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – have the potential to boost trade and investment cooperation in many sectors, a senior official said at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday.

The ties with each country would generate unique advantages, said Nguyen Duc Thuong, deputy director general of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's European Market Department.

He said the four countries "have high demands for products that are our strength, including agriculture products, footwear, garment and textile and wooden products".

Trade between Vietnam and these four countries increased strongly in recent years, with Vietnam enjoying a surplus, he told the seminar that sought ways to find cooperation opportunities to enhance trade and investment ties with Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

"As I know, the mechanical engineering industry, food industry and high technology industry in these countries are well developed, providing good quality machinery and equipment at competitive prices," he said.

"Therefore, besides seeking chances to boost exports to these markets, Vietnamese enterprises should pay more attention to importing mechanical products, machinery and equipment and even some hi-tech products from these countries," he said.

Milan Vagner, Economic Counsellor at the Embassy of Czech Republic in Ha Noi, said enterprises from his country could provide Vietnam with advanced technology in environmental treatment, mining, agriculture, packaging, food and beverage, and other sectors.

Cars and auto spare parts, aircraft, software and communication are other areas that present good co-operation potential, he said.

The Czech Republic can also help Vietnam to develop its glass industry, glassware, biotechnology and nanotechnology, Vagner said.

Lenart Istvan, Commercial counsellor of the Embassy of Hungary, said that apart from the food items, medicines, and medical devices, Hungary could provide Vietnam with agriculture and harvesting technology, environmentally friendly fertilisers and biofertilisers, milk processing technology, water management technology, energy recycling technology and banking software security systems.

"We can also provide more facilities in the field of biotechnology, nanotechnology and automotive technology," he said.

He called on Vietnamese companies to open representative offices or set up joint ventures in Hungary, citing low property prices and competitive labour costs compared to other European countries.

In the last few years, Vietnamese enterprises had shown increasing interest in investing in Hungary, he noted.

More and more Vietnamese banks are interested in the European market, with BIDV and Vietinbank both opened offices in Europe recently.
"I hope that other banking institutions will come to Hungary to invest," he said.

Hungary prioritised the creation of more jobs, so the government "has many ways to support investors" including tax reduction and other incentives, he said.

Wojciech Gerwel, economic counsellor of the Polish Embassy and Jaroslav Jelenik, economic counsellor at the Slovak Embassy also presented their respective strengths of their countries and highlighted areas that have high co-operation potential with Vietnam.

Besides the agriculture, hi-tech and pharmaceutical industries, Poland can offer high-end technology in coal exploitation to Vietnam, since it is the 8th top coal producer in the world, said Wojciech.

Jaroslav said that Slovakia was looking to boost trade and investment ties with Vietnam in machinery, precision engineering, metal processing, electronics, mechanical and pharmaceutical industries, as well as other areas that it is strong in.

"Slovakia wants stronger business ties so that it can narrow the trade deficit it now has with Vietnam," he said.

With its favourable geographic location, Slovakia can be a gateway for Vietnamese businesses to reach the big population in Europe, he said.

As of November this year, Slovakian firms had invested in five projects in Vietnam with a total registered capital of US$235.5 million; Polish firms had 10 projects with a combined capital of $100 million; the Czech Republic had 27 projects with $65.5 million; and Hungary had 12 projects worth $47.3 million.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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