Minister Vu Huy Hoang,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with a great pleasure that I welcome all of you, Honorable Delegates, to this Panel Session on Trade, Energy and Investment Cooperation, in my privileged capacity of co-chair.
This Panel Session will allow us to underscore the increasing economic dynamism of South-South Cooperation and the increasing role of Vietnam as a dynamic player of the South.
Indeed, as the Brazilian President, Lula Da Silva noted, there is a new geography of trade and investment. Countries of the South are driving this new trend.
The South has also become an important locomotive for global economic growth. This is likely to continue given the slow pace at which developed countries are growing.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
This Panel session offers us a striking opportunity to concretize the Viet Nam-Africa cooperation for a mutually beneficial sustainable development by reviewing three crucial pillars of this cooperation namely Trade, Energy and Investment.
As you are already aware, International Trade, Investments and Energy are critical for sustainable development.
International trade plays a vital role in economic development since it provides employment, contributes to the transfer of technology and is an important source of foreign exchange needed for imports of capital and intermediate goods. For example, the rapid expansion of the external trade of the People’s Republic of China has played a key role in the country’s remarkable economic advancement.
Investment by supplementing domestic savings and creating employment and providing access to technology can enhance prospects for meeting the MDGs by 2015.
Energy and the development of infrastructure in general are important to support productive capacity and industrialization which in turn permits the strengthening of Trade and Investment as well as sustained growth and development. Let me also recall that Africa produces only 3% of the global energy production and the Continent still has a very low level of energy consumption. Yet, Africa offers a high potential of renewable energy such as solar energy and hydropower.
Therefore, addressing these three issues, Ladies and Gentlemen, becomes critical not only for strengthening the linkages between Viet Nam and Africa but also for the achievements of a mutually beneficial sustainable development.
Allow me to briefly look into some of the opportunities for Strengthening the Viet Nam –Africa economic cooperation.
Viet Nam and Africa are both currently on the recovery path with positive prospects for 2010 and the coming years with growth forecasts of respectively 6.5 % and 4.5% in 2010. Viet-Nam – Africa total trade amounted to over $US2 billion in 2009 which is about 2% of Viet Nam total foreign trade turnover. Total exports from Viet Nam to Africa represented 0.5 % of Africa’s imports in 2009. That is way below the potential of this growing cooperation.
On the on hand, Viet Nam offers a fast growing economy underpinned by a dynamic manufacturing sector which is attractive of Foreign Direct Investments. Viet Nam offers skills and competencies in agriculture, aquaculture and food production sectors as well as in Health and Education. The country provides a market of more than 88 million persons with an expanding middle class and provides an entry point to the fast growing regional grouping of the Association Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
On the other hand, Africa offers abundant natural resources, a huge market of 1 billion persons with an expanding middle class, high return on investment and low labor cost. Africa also benefits from preferential treatment on trade with developed countries’ markets such as the European Union and the USA for instance.
As you can see, there is a considerable scope to enhance the Viet Nam Africa relations around trade, energy and investments. This also opens opportunities for diversification in terms of both markets and products, which is crucial for reducing vulnerability to external shocks in Africa.
Let me finish by spelling out my expectations for this session which will benefits from the presentation of very distinguished experts.
How can we enhance the cooperation around trade, investments and energy?
What are the challenges, the advantages and the opportunities that could be foreseen to really promote this cooperation to its full potential?
How can we ensure that this cooperation provides mutually beneficial sustainable development?
I call upon you, Distinguished Delegates, to contribute openly and provide specific proposals in order to have fruitful deliberations.
I thank you.