As African and Middle Eastern countries are moving boldly in the direction of “Look East” policies with a greater focus on cooperation with Vietnam, it is vital for Vietnamese academics, policymakers and businesses to have a clear understanding of the policies so as to make the most of the benefits resulting from cooperation with these regions, said VASS President, Prof. PhD. Nguyen Quang Thuan.
Vietnam is a pillar for the “Look East” policies of Africa and the Middle East, said Ambassador of Angola to Vietnam Joao Manuel Bernardo. The diplomat expects Vietnam, together with Angola and more broadly Africa, will develop a new model of cooperation, in which both sides will help each other to transform from exporters of raw materials to industrial manufacturers to produce a larger quantity of goods and more employment.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Phuong Nga said Vietnam and countries in Africa and the Middle East have many advantages to supplement each other. Vietnam has seen significant socio-economic development in recent years as the country is one of the top leaders in GDP growth among ASEAN and Asian nations, averaging 6-7% annually, she noted, adding that last year, its GDP exceeded US$220 billion, while the FDI injection hit over US$36 billion.
Over the last three years, trade between Vietnam and African and Middle Eastern countries increased sharply, from US$16.25 billion in 2016 to US$18.65 billion in 2017, with Vietnam enjoying a trade surplus. Vietnam has remained an annual two-way trade turnover of over US$1 billion with six countries, including Turkey, Israel, and South Africa.
As of June 2018, the total FDI from Vietnam to the region had reached more than US$2.6 billion.
During the seminar, participants focused their discussion on the trends of the “Look East” policies in Africa and the Middle East, as well as some of the challenges facing Vietnamese enterprises to boost investment and trade in these regions.