Participants at the event heard speakers such as Eric Blétard, high commissioner for economic and trade for Wallonia in Vietnam, and Eve Devoldere, high commissioner for economic and trade of Flanders in Vietnam, introduce the potential capabilities and strengths of each respective region.
The French-speaking region of Wallonia is notable for its high-tech sectors, especially biotechnology, infrastructure construction, aquaculture, and the training of IT professionals operating within the broadband sector.
Tran Ngoc Quan, Vietnamese trade counselor in Belgium, briefed attendees on the investment situation in the country, while the Customs Attaché of ASEAN discussed taking advantage of customs mechanisms to boost imports and exports.
These useful pieces of information for enterprises will help in the process of finding business opportunities in the Vietnamese market.
According to Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium Nguyen Van Thao, in the context of the current global economic situation, both countries continue to boast huge potential for broader co-operation. Indeed, the two sides must work closely to create a favourable environment for the business community to fully tap into the co-operation potential which exists.
In line with this, there are four potential areas of co-operation between both nations, including agriculture, green growth, seaports, and logistics and innovation.
The implementation of the strategic partnership agreement relating to agriculture makes up an important solution in connecting Belgium's strengths in the application of biotechnology, food processing technology, and cold preservation technology with the needs of Vietnam.
Moving towards green growth can be viewed as an indispensable part of the Vietnamese economy. The Ambassador therefore welcomed fresh Belgian investments in areas such as renewable energy from wind and solar, e-commerce, as well as smart and sustainable city development in the progress of carrying out strategies and plans in the country.
According to the Ambassador, strengthening co-operation between the nation and the Central European country in the field of seaports and logistics will be key to ensuring the continued free flow of goods and promoting global trade.
With regard to innovation and creativity, with the advantage of a young and highly skilled workforce, the nation is capable of serving as leverage for Belgian companies to expand into the ASEAN market.
Mariella Cantagalli, an expert on relations with Vietnam and ASEAN under the General Department of Trade of the European Commission (EC), expressed great appreciation for the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) which has created favourable conditions to boost trade exchanges. It has also contributed to increasing imports and exports between the Vietnamese market and EU countries, particularly Belgium, in food and agricultural products.
Attending the event for the first time, Dang Hong Anh, chairman of the Vietnam Young Entrepreneurs Association, emphasised that the Belgium-Vietnam trade and investment promotion forum offers favourable conditions for both sides to learn about co-operation and new investment trends in the two countries.
Anh outlined his hopes that with stable political and macroeconomic institutions and a market of approximately 100 million people, a young workforce, and an increasingly improved business investment environment with deep international integration, many positive reforms can take place in the economy. This is along with the geographical location and potential markets, natural resources, and open business environment allowing Vietnam to become a destination for international investors, including those from Belgium.
On the sidelines of the forum, delegates also enjoyed traditional Vietnamese music performed by artists from the Vietnam Cultural House, a photo exhibition featuring Vietnamese places of interest, as well as the opportunity to sample Vietnamese cuisine.
Vietnam and Belgium first established diplomatic relations back in 1973. Over the past 49 years, political, diplomatic, economic, and cultural relations between the two sides have enjoyed constant development.
Both countries have become strategic partners in agriculture, with bilateral trade reaching a record of EUR3.6 billion in 2021, while the Belgian export rate soared by 40.7%, with the Vietnamese export rate rising by 22.7%.
During the initial five months of the year, bilateral trade reached more than US$2.1 billion, a rise of more than 40% on-year.
Belgium makes up the country’s fifth largest trading partner in the EU, whilst the nation is Belgium's second largest trading partner in ASEAN, behind only Singapore.
As of the end of May, Belgium has run 81 valid projects in the country with a total registered capital of roughly US$1.1 billion.