He was speaking at the Business Forum Italy Vietnam held for Vietnamese and Italian entrepreneurs to share investment and cooperation opportunities in Vietnam.
The forum hosted 150 delegates representing some of Italy’s world-leading brands, in industries from renewable energy and infrastructure to machinery and banks and entrepreneurial associations. More than 200 Vietnamese counterparts also attended.
Italy is now Vietnam’s eighth-largest trading partner in the world and the largest in the EU. Italian exports to Vietnam include machinery, leather products and electronics. Italian investment in Vietnam increased to US$360 million in 2016 with 78 projects implemented.
Bilateral trade between Vietnam and Italy increased sharply from US$1.13 billion in 2006 to US$4.68 billion in 2016. In the first eight months of this year, bilateral trade reached US$2.9 billion, a year-on-year increase of 9%.
Identifying economic cooperation as a priority pillar of bilateral cooperation, the two countries aim to increase trade turnover to US$6 billion in the 2017- 18 period. They hope to increase Italy’s investment in Vietnam, especially in sectors in which Italy is strong, creating favourable conditions for Vietnamese agriculture and seafood products to access the Italian market.
“Italy does not only wish to cooperate in the area of trade as in previous years, but also wants to help Vietnam develop by supporting human resources training and capacity-building. To date, Italy has provided technological and financial support to establish a leather and footwear technological, training and application centre in Binh Duong province, which opened in July this year,” Scalfarotto added.
As regards the obstacles of Italian firms when doing business in Vietnam, Pham Hoang Hai, executive director of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (ICHAM), told Vietnam News that Italian firms are frustrated by the weakness of supporting industries in Vietnam. Since most Italian firms doing business in Vietnam are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), they are in need of component factories or auxiliary suppliers in Vietnam and struggle to find the high-quality products they want to use.
However, Vietnam also offers many factors that reassure Italian investors of its strong potential, such as the stability of its policy system, an encouraging corporate tax system and workers whose skills are flexible and transferable to a variety of tasks.
At the conference, two Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) have been signed. One MOU is between the Confidustria Marmomacchine – an association of Italian stone and marble manufacturing companies—and the Vietnam Association for Building Materials and the Luc Yen White Marble Association. The other is between the ICHAM and Vietnam’s General Department of Customs.
This is the first time that ICHAM has signed an agreement with Vietnam’s General Department of Customs aimed at limiting trade fraud and smuggling, as well as guaranteeing that all products coming from Italy to Vietnam are 100% made in Italy or 100% produced by Italian companies, said Michele D’Ercole, chairman of ICHAM.
The event was organised by the Italian Trade Commission (ICE), the Italian Banks’ Association (ABI) and the Italian Confederation of Industry Associations (Confindustria), with support from the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Embassy of Italy in Vietnam.