LAHORE: Ambassador of Vietnam Nguyen Tien Phong said on Monday that in order to increase bilateral trade volume, Vietnam and Pakistan needed to facilitate business people and share trade information for which Vietnam Embassy in Islamabad and Consulate in Karachi were always ready to help and facilitate Pakistani businessmen.
Talking to LCCI Senior Vice President Zafar Mahmood Chaudhry and Executive Committee members here at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the Ambassador shared history of Vietnam Diplomatic and Economic relations; what frameworks should be in place for economic cooperation; trade statistics; and the implementation process.
He said that last year, Vietnam and Pakistan had celebrated 50 years of relations, adding that Pakistan had always supported Vietnam in all the international forums. “We should go ahead with our relations by boosting our economic ties. We have a mechanism in place like meetings every year. We have setup sub-committees as we are partners in difficult times. We should be partner in prosperity,” he maintained.
The Ambassador said that he wanted to bring Vietnam businessmen to Pakistan to explore huge trade and investment potential of Punjab especially Lahore. He mentioned that 90 percent of cotton and 60 percent of yarn was being imported from Punjab. While Vietnam exported fisheries, tea, paper, chemicals, ginger and other products to Pakistan which were not more than 0.5 percent of the total exports. Similarly, Vietnam also imported pharmaceuticals, cotton, leather products from Pakistan, the volume of which was also very low.
He said that the embassy could also assist to find potential business partners for Pakistani businessmen, and LCCI should also send a business delegation to Vietnam to meet their counterparts and ‘we can also arrange meetings with ministers and high-ups in Vietnam.’
Nguyen Tien Phong said, “We have seen that Pakistan is facing difficulties and containers are stuck at ports but we have solution to this issue also as we can work out to develop a mechanism of barter trade between the two sides.” Upon which LCCI SVP agreed and said that he would personally lead a delegation of businessmen to Vietnam to explore trade and investment opportunities.
LCCI Senior Vice President Zafar Mahmood Chaudhry said that Vietnam and Pakistan enjoyed more than 50 years of sound diplomatic relations that were formally established in 1972. Besides excellent diplomatic ties, both countries enjoyed trade and economic cooperation in diverse fields. He said that despite starting as one of the weaker economies in the mid of 1970s and 1980s, Vietnam emerged against all the odds. Following the path of rapid economic growth, he added, Vietnam showed impressive progress in industrial, agricultural and services sectors.
He mentioned that over the few decades, the global exports of Vietnam had surpassed US $ 335 billion, while the global imports of Vietnam had crossed US $ 330 billion. “We have a lot to learn from Vietnam economic model.” He thanked Vietnam for contributing US $ 100,000 in flood relief assistance programme initiated by the Government of Pakistan.
The SVP said that there was an increasing trend being witnessed in mutual trade figures between Pakistan and Vietnam, however, further concrete measures should be taken to enhance the scale of bilateral trade that was hovering around US $ 839 million. “Moreover, we would also like to close the gap of trade deficit as Pakistan is facing unfavourable balance of trade with Vietnam,” he added.
According to State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) statistics, he mentioned, Pakistan’s exports to Vietnam increased from US $ 117 million in 2020-21 to US $ 261 million dollars in 2021-22. In the same period, the imports from Vietnam also increased from US $ 444 million to US $ 578 million. Pakistan’s share in total trade of Vietnam was just 0.12 percent so both the countries should take the level of bilateral trade volume to at least US $ 2 billion in the first phase and keep on enhancing it, especially through providing more space to Pakistani exporters to tap the immense potential in Vietnam market.
Zafar Mahmood Chaudhry said that Pakistan’s main exports to Vietnam consisted of cotton, plastic, frozen fish, woven fabrics of cotton, oilcake, leather, oil seeds, frozen meat, maize, and Pharmaceutical products etc.
On the other hand, Pakistan’s imports from Vietnam included electronic equipment, man-made filaments, coffee, tea, spices, sea foods, vegetables, rubber products, iron and steel etc.
He said that Pakistan had huge potential of exporting various items to Vietnam which were being imported from other countries. For example, the fabrics imports of Vietnam were around US $ 4 billion, coal US $ 3.9 billion, corn US $ 2.8 billion, medicaments US $ 2.2 billion, wheat US $ 1.4 billion and leather US $ 1.1 billion etc. Pakistan could certainly enhance its exports to Vietnam in these sectors.
He said that seafood could be the most potential holding sector for Pakistan. Similarly, Pakistan could also export processed meat, fruit and vegetables to Vietnam. Moreover, there was tremendous room for collaboration in the Information Technology and tourism sectors.
He said that there was a need to find new avenues of trade between Pakistan and Vietnam because Vietnam being an active member of ASEAN, held great importance for Pakistan. Both countries should explore the possibility of a signing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which could provide better market access to business communities from Pakistan and Vietnam, he added.
“We always ask for having support from the respective commercial sections of our missions and expect that they should share market survey reports with their national chambers of commerce on regular basis. I believe that we can get better and quicker results by engaging the private sector representatives of both the countries through exchanging trade delegations and holding single country exhibitions,” he concluded. (APP)