Jorge Faurie, who first came to Vietnam for a visit as an expert 22 years ago, recently visited the country in his new position as Argentinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship, accompanied by representatives of companies seeking partners in Vietnam’s agricultural and foodstuff sectors.
“Vietnam is now quite different from how it was 22 years ago. I see the country strongly growing at an annual rate of over 6 per cent, with the great demand for consumption, especially in agricultural and foodstuff products. That creates opportunities for Argentinian businesses,” Faurie said.
Baldini Estela Mónica, business manager of agro-aquatic producer Conarpesa Continental Armadores De Pesca S.A., said that his company currently exports its products to 19 foreign markets and wants to export shrimps and squids to Vietnam.
“Vietnam is a large consumer of these products. This is our opportunity,” Mónica said.
Like other Argentinian companies, Graneles Sudamericanos, an agricultural, grain, and feed merchandising company, is also seeking to create a foothold in Vietnam. “We offer grains, oil seeds, flours, and meals, specialities, Andean seeds, and feed ingredients,” the company’s representative Juan Carlos Trigo said.
Arcor S.A.I.C. also wants to export its confectionery and foodstuff products to Vietnam, where the demand for these products is growing by double-digit percentages, in line with a rise in incomes. Arcor sees opportunities in Vietnam and wants to develop flavours and product presentation according to the tastes of increasingly selective consumers.
In fact, since late 2017, many Argentinian delegations, including hundreds of companies, have come to Vietnam in search of business opportunities in the agricultural, foodstuff, and pharmaceutical sectors. In the first seven months of this year, three delegations entered Vietnam.
According to Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, the two countries’ two-way trade turnover rose from $2.3 billion in 2015 to $2.9 billion in 2016 and $3.03 billion last year–10 times higher than the figures reached a decade ago. Turnover reached $1.5 billion in the first half of this year.
Currently, Argentina is Vietnam’s second-largest trade partner in Latin America, while Vietnam is Argentina’s fifth-largest import market in the world.
Last week, Minister Faurie met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and the ministers of Industry and Trade and Foreign Affairs, saying that Argentina is seeking stronger partnerships with Vietnam and the ASEAN as a whole as Argentinian businesses are eager to export their agricultural and foodstuff products. “We hope that we will see a free trade agreement (FTA) between the Mercosur and the ASEAN in the future,” Minister Faurie said.
Consisting of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, Mercosur is a regional economic bloc established in 1991. It accounts for 70 per cent of South America’s population and has a GDP of $2.7 trillion, equivalent to 76 per cent of South America’s total GDP.
The average import tariff rate imposed by Vietnam on Argentinian products is 10-15 per cent. An FTA may help reduce the rate to 0 per cent. Minister Faurie said that the FTA would help triple the two countries’ two-way trade turnover.
Both countries will also push the negotiations, signing, and implementation of co-operation programmes in the agriculture, IT, pharmaceuticals, processing, and manufacturing industries, biotechnology, security and defence, and tourism.
It is expected that in the near future, PM Phuc will pay a visit to Argentina, and Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri will, in turn, visit Vietnam in early 2019.
In September 2018, Argentina will welcome a delegation of about 40 Vietnamese companies seeking business opportunities with Argentinian partners. The two nations will also hold an inter-governmental meeting in Argentina.
By Khoi Nguyen