|At the forum (Photo: VNA)
Vo Tan Thanh, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said both countries enjoy a time-honoured relationship that has grown strong over the past seven decades with the two nations co-operating in fields such as economics, culture, education, and the environment.
Indeed, bilateral trade between the two countries reached approximately US$300 million last year, of which Vietnam exported over US$156 million worth of goods to the European nation, whilst in turn importing over US$140 million in goods.
Both countries have consistently maintained this trade balance as the Czech Republic’s trade deficit with the nation decreased from US$93 million in 2015 to over US$15 million in 2018.
Vietnam’s key exports to the Central European country include mobile phones and their components, footwear, textiles, and agro-aquatic products, of which footwear products account for a significant proportion.
Simultaneously, the Czech Republic’s major export commodities to Vietnam largely consist of chemicals, machinery, equipment, spare parts, pharmaceuticals, and plastics.
In total, the European country has invested in 38 projects across Vietnam with investment totaling over US$90 million. In contrast, the nation has invested in only four investment projects in the Czech Republic.
According to Thanh, these figures have yet to meet the potential and expectations that exist between both sides, adding that Vietnam is hopeful of boosting bilateral co-operation in trade and investment in the near future with the aim of bringing trade turnover to US$1 billion.
Following Thanh’s view, Richard Brabec, Minister of the Environment of the Czech Republic, believed that the Czech Republic considers Vietnam to be a strategic market which serves as an important gateway to gain easier access to the ASEAN region. As a result, an increasing number of Czech businesses are keen to increase their stake in investment and business opportunities throughout Vietnam.
Brabec pointed out that when the Vietnam - EU Free Trade Agreement officially comes into effect, it will create an array of chances for businesses from both countries to enhance trade and investment ties.
This will culminate in early 2020 when a direct flight route between Hanoi and Prague opens, facilitating greater trade links and accelerating tourism development.
Jaroslov Hanak, President of the Czech Confederation of Industry, said Czech firms have plenty of strengths in the processing, manufacturing, mining, mineral, and petroleum sectors, as well as in applied technologies such as biotechnology and nanotechnology.
Furthermore, financial, insurance, and information technology services that exist in the European nation are also well developed, which can serve to open up greater opportunities for co-operation with the country’s business community in the future.
Czech enterprises are highly appreciative of the country’s strong economic growth and dynamism, identifying Vietnam as an attractive market for both trade and investment activities, he said.
The promotion of comprehensive co-operation activities between the two countries will bring an array of practical benefits whilst acting as a bridge between two important economic regions, ASEAN and the EU, in the future.