The Ambassador of Vietnam, Nguyen Tien Phong, has underscored the need to expedite work on Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between Pakistan and Vietnam, which continues to lie on the table. “
Talks were also going on for having Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries, but we need to have PTA first. Of course, relevant meetings of joint trade committee and joint ministerial committee were held, but then some of them were postponed due to COVID-19, which doesn’t mean we delay the process,” he added while exchanging views at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI).
First Secretary Vietnam’s Embassy, Thai Duc Khai, Head of Vietnam Trade Office, Ms. Nguyen Thi Diep Ha, President KCCI, Muhammad Idrees, Senior Vice President, Abdul Rehman Naqi, Vice President, Qazi Zahid Hussain, Chairman of KCCI’s Diplomatic Missions & Embassies Liaison Sub Committee, Zia ul Arfeen, Former President, Majyd Aziz, and KCCI Managing Committee Members attended the meeting.
Highlighting the trade and investment potential, Vietnamese Envoy stated that Pakistan and Vietnam were amazing countries with all four seasons, huge population, sufficient natural resources, and young labor force, along with immense opportunities available in many sectors, including the travel and tourism sector, which needs to be promoted. “We have the potential and we have the framework, but we need to explore how trade and investment could be enhanced, which have remained stagnant. Instead of just talking about potential, we need to be practical. The business associations of the two countries must come forward, identify problems, raise awareness and take practical steps for boosting the trade and investment ties,” he added.
“This is the year, we will be celebrating 50 years of Pakistan-Vietnam diplomatic ties and we have big plans for that, but in addition to celebrations, we have to be more effective and substantive partners to further promote and strengthen the existing trade and investment ties between the two countries,” he said.
“As we are brothers and friends and we are constantly supporting each other in many aspects on several international forums, yet the trade and investment was not meeting the potential and needs collective efforts,” said the Vietnamese Envoy. “We need to understand each other, our traditions, and the way of doing business, in addition to building confidence between the business communities of the two countries with a view of creating a mutually beneficial and a win-win situation.”
He informed that Vietnam has implemented an open-door policy as the country’s economy has been liberalized and integrated into the global economy, which yielded good results. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam recorded a growth of 2.9 percent, and its total exports-imports in 2020-21 stood at $668 billion, of which exports stood at $336.5 billion, while goods worth $332.5 billion were imported, indicating a surplus of $4 billion. “We have FTA with 17 countries, including EU, Japan, US, China, ASEAN, and trade relations with 145 countries and territories.”
Commenting on the $794 million trade volume between Pakistan and Vietnam, he said that this trade volume was largely in favor of Vietnam. Hence, the business community of Karachi has to find ways to make it balanced. “We are ready to facilitate any MoU between KCCI and any other CCI in Vietnam, which should not remain confined to just signing but has to be effectively implemented,” he assured.
Earlier, President KCCI, Muhammad Idrees, while welcoming the Vietnamese Ambassador, noted that despite the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam’s economy recorded a growth of 2.9 percent in 2020, which according to IMF, was one of the highest growth rates in the world in that year. Similarly, according to the World Bank, even though Vietnam’s economy later slowed down to 2.6 percent in 2021, it is all set to rise to a whopping 5.5 percent in 2022. “The authorities in Pakistan must study Vietnam to evaluate the key steps required to end certain woes faced by Pakistan and move the country towards a more efficient industrial and manufacturing-based economy,” he stressed.
He mentioned that the trade volume was currently below the true potential as during 2020, Pakistan exported goods worth $136.67 million while the imports from Vietnam stood at $437.95 million, which need to be improved through collective efforts as there was a lot of untapped potential in several commodities, including synthetic organic dyes, casing, and tubing of iron or steel, Polystyrene, cuttlefish and squid, woven fabrics of cotton, Medicaments containing hormones or steroids, leather, and Octopus, etc. Great possibilities of cooperation exist in the seafood sector through setting up joint ventures in shrimp farming and processing.
“Apart from trade in commodities, Vietnamese investors can invest in energy, electricity, textile material, vehicle component, and agricultural goods processing units. Vietnam has good expertise in producing hydropower, and it can cooperate with Pakistan in this field. Vietnamese investors should visit Pakistan to explore JVs and investment in CPEC,” he advised, adding that Vietnam can help Pakistan in the development of its agriculture sector.
Stressing the need to exchange delegations to boost bilateral engagement, President KCCI also invited the Vietnamese business community to participate in the My Karachi Exhibition, which KCCI has been organizing for the past 16 years. This mega event is scheduled from 11 till 13 February 2022 at Karachi Expo Center.