Today Vietnam and its economy is growing fast, on average around 6% per annum; in 2015 it recorded a 6.6% exceeding the target of 6.2% imposed by the authorities. Much of the financial community agrees that the trend is likely to continue on the medium term. Member of the WTO and ASEAN, Vietnam has recently concluded the FTA with South Korea and with the Eurasian Union of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan (May 2015) and is currently involved with the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, the FTA with the EU (which should be completed by the summer), the Comprehensive General Agreement under ASEAN Plus and the FTA with EFTA countries. With regional trade integration strategy, strategic positioning and the assets represented by the so-called 3D (“durable macroeconomy, domestic consumption, demographic dividend”) Vietnam aims to significantly strengthen the capabilities and ambitions of production hub in Southeast Asia.
Several reforms approved at the end of 2014, some in force since the beginning of the year, some other from 1 July 2015, should provide new impetus to the economy and increasing competitiveness in view of the challenges posed by the entry into the ASEAN Economic Community and from the commitments resulting from the numerous international free trade agreements signed.
The support of the Vietnamese authorities is directed in particular to industries with high technology and high value added (manufacturing, renewable energy, electronics, computerization and biotechnology, research and processing of oil and gas, environmental protection); confirming the economic and cultural relationship that connect Italy to Vietnam we asked some questions to Mr. Fulvio Albano President of the Chamber of Commerce Italy-Vietnam who kindly granted us this meeting:
Dear President, how long have you been holding this position for the Italian – Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce ?
My assignment is recent, although the CCIV is active since 1996. After receiving, in 2015, the honor of the Vietnamese government – which gave me the Medal of Friendship for the work conducted in cultural and artistic field concerning the relationships between Italy and Viet Nam, I have been appointed president in January 2016.
How long the Italian – Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce has been founded ? Can You explain us its specific objectives?
It was founded in 1996, with the support of the Vietnamese Studies Center of Turin and under the auspices of the Embassy of the S. R. of Viet Nam, the Chamber of Commerce Italy-Vietnam is at the side of the Italian companies in Vietnam and the Vietnamese companies in Italy. It has been recognized in 2000 by the Ministry of International Trade of Rome (Ministerial Decree No.96 of 15.2.2000) and it is registered in the Register Italian Foreign Chamber of Commerce of the Unioncamere, in addition to being bound by specific conventions to ICHAM- Italian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam-and, in testimony of an emergency of Vietnamese business community in Italy – to ASSOEVI, an organization that brings together Vietnamese businessmen and cooperates with the counterpart group of Vietnamese businessmen in Europe. As a non-governmental organization, ASSOEVI is an important partner not only to consolidate and strengthen the operators of the Vietnamese community in Italy, but also to actively organize, on our doorstep, events that promote potential and opportunities of cooperation with Viet Nam, as well as its land and its people, a beautiful land and a cultured people, hospitable and kind. In addition, the association, with the Italy Viet Nam Chamber, is also a valuable means for Italian agencies, the Vietnamese representative offices in Italy and our partners, supporting them in overcoming difficulties and obstacles. In fact, the Chamber cooperates with Vietnamese and Italian institutions in order to promote and intensify relations, financial, cultural trade and economic technical relations between Italian and Vietnamese companies in the sectors. CCIV’s instruments are also the economic Seminars periodically organized and publications that since 1996, it promotes, such as the latest economic guide to Viet Nam in which it was actively engaged for the draft. In 2013, on the occasion of the celebration of 40 years of diplomatic relations between Italy and Vietnam, the Chamber has promoted the seminar “Invest in Vietnam. Business opportunities, productive sectors and taxation “- coordinated by API Torino( Small and Medium Business Associations in Turin) and Turin Chamber of Commerce, with the support of the Embassy and of the S. R. of Viet Nam Consulate in Turin.
Which are the opportunities for Italian investments in Vietnam today and in which areas?
Vietnam is a country rapidly expanding, with a population of over 90 million inhabitants and a stable socio-political structure, a dynamic economy and high and sustainable growth rates, as well as a trained workforce with good standard and contained production costs. All this in a very favorable geopolitical position within ASEAN – the union of the Southeast Asia countries – which guarantees a market of over 600 million inhabitants; the ASEAN area, where, from 2015, the goods produced in a Member State may move freely. Vietnam, with a GDP increase of over 6% in 2016, is the ASEAN country that will grow further in the next three years; we must not forget that, as I said, ASEAN represents a single market and that, thanks to the Free Trade Agreement signed between the EU and Viet Nam, it could turn into a privileged interlocutor for the international growth of Italian companies. Italy is the European country which, due to its characteristics, can profit more of the great opportunity represented by the EU-VIETNAM free-trade agreement, recently signed, because of the high level and consistency of bilateral relations between the two countries, supported by the recent State visit of President Sergio Mattarella in Viet Nam. However, to seize these opportunities, it is needed an adequate knowledge of this corner of Asia and, above all, it must get rid of the stereotypes that have characterized the Viet Nam during the years of anti-American conflict. And it is necessary to know the new dynamic image in overwhelming growth, of Viet Nam, a country with a very promising market that is not only a gateway of strategic access to ASEAN – huge market – but that it is considered a business friendly country concerning the procedures; the level of taxation is low: IRAP (Regional Tax on Productive Activities) does not exist and VAT is generally much lower than the Italian levels. IRES (Corporate Income Tax) is equivalent to 25%, with significant reductions. Direct investment is particularly interesting, among the rest, in the textile supply chain sectors, furniture and woodworking, in the footwear industry, in engineering and infrastructure.
In the economic and industrial fields, how is Italy perceived by Vietnam for short- and long-term investments at the moment?
Relations between Italy and Vietnam, which have ancient roots, were formalized in 1973. In the first 40 years of bilateral relations the two countries have been able to compose a complex and detailed framework of bilateral cooperation, related to many initiatives in a lot of areas .2013 marked a turning point and a qualitative change in the register, which was formalized by the signing of a joint declaration, to ratification of a bilateral Strategic Partnership and an Action Plan, to which the free Agreement trade is added. In recent years, we have seen a steady increase in the ranks of Italian companies operating or investing in Vietnam and the commercial exchange between our two countries has almost doubled; in 2013, Italian exports increased by 35%, while Italians investments reached a considerable value – even if many opportunities are to be seized, and there is still ample room for new initiatives. In this framework, the Partnership Agreement signed between Italy and Vietnam is an extremely useful tool to build on the complementarities between the Italian and Vietnamese SMC(Small and Medium Companies). It is, in particular, in terms of investments that the Partnership can make a difference, especially considering the role of “Bridge-country” taken from Vietnam. Italian companies, in this prospect, starting from Vietnam, can achieve market positions in ASEAN countries and the entire Asian region – in reason of the regional agreements signed by Vietnam. It should also be stressed that the changes taking place in the Vietnam economy and the progressive growth of per capita income, can induce the Italian companies to consider Vietnam as a country not only designed to accommodate manufacturing or productive investment, but also as an interesting solution market of Made in Italy products, a strong consumer market potential.
Political stability, the increase in domestic welfare and an investment law – which tends to equate, in many areas, the position of foreign investors to the local investors – are among the main factors that make Vietnam a rich field of opportunities for Italian companies today; a young and growing market that offers unique possibilities.
In which specific areas is headed your organization and the development of business tasks in Vietnam?
In the tasks field, we will present 2016 program soon, with a trip to Viet Nam, presumably in November, on the occasion of an important fair for the Food, which will be country-Host Italy. The CCIV operates wide-ranging, being a non-profit organization, whose task is to promote investment and trade between the two countries, in the sustainability perspective, a concept very dear to Vietnamese. In this regard, I recommend a conference to be held in Turin on the occasion of the IFLA Congress 2016 (International Federation of Landscape Architects), organized by the University, the Polytechnic Institute with AGER – International Agency for the protection of biocultural landscapes and for the new rurality – and VIETNAMESE STUDIES CENTER; It will be dedicated to the environment, the landscape and the challenge of sustainability. I remember that Chamber of Commerce Italy-Vietnam is based in Turin, in the same building that houses S. R. of Viet Nam Consulate – where you can get entry visas in Viet Nam – and other institutions dedicated to the scientific and cultural exchange with the country since the Eighties: the Vietnamese Studies Center, “Enrica Collotti Pischel” Library and the Italy Viet Nam National Association. The Chamber of Commerce Italy-Vietnam works closely with these institutions to facilitate the achievement of its statutory purposes and, with them, supports and promotes conferences, seminars, exhibitions, events aimed at improving knowledge of Vietnam, its culture and its institutions and the opportunities it can offer to those who want to go for business, culture and tourism.
Which are the advantages that an Italian company could have joining the Italian – Vietnamese Chamber ?
Because of the close collaboration with Turin partners and other partners of whom I said, the CCIV offers a wide range of services ranging from translations, publications, focused advices and guidance in such an interesting market yet complex and articulate. The Italy Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce can be a reference for any large or small company, who wants to start or improve their own economic and business relations to and from Viet Nam. To develop contacts with customers, suppliers and business partners, for example; companies, through the Italy Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce can create networks between them, benefit from the services of qualified experts and exchange feedback. We must not forget that day by day, the Chamber is growing and is creating new contacts and new opportunities to work best in the context of shared and participatory collaboration in terms of sustainability. In addition, the Chamber of Commerce Italy-Vietnam allows you to have a privileged contact with organizations, institutions, associations and other Chambers of Commerce in Italy and in Viet Nam. Be associated permit to receive documentation and regular communications, attend seminars and conferences, get updated through meetings, meet personalities from the world of institutions and the economy, promote the own company in a sector or professional firm, tasks involvement. Not mentioning the most “pleasure-seeker” environment, which means frequent invitations to shows, exhibitions and networking events.
Concluding by thanking You for Your willingness, I ask You the last question, what do You personally think of Italy about the future world economic exchanges in this time of economic crisis in Europe?
I think this area of the world and Vietnam in particular, can offer opportunities today that if we do not grasp, others will grab for their own benefit. Italy has plenty of small companies able to do extraordinary things, which now, in times of crisis, must put in place new business strategies to tackle the “global market.” Sure it is a challenge, but a challenge that the Vietnamese market can accept with completeness: Vietnam is ready to affectionately receive Italians investments. Moreover, if you look at the world with curiosity and interest leading away, look to Vietnam means guaranteed success because Italy – by the innovativeness and creativity of its businesses – is considered by the Vietnamese with a special harmony and “the Made in Italy” is highly appreciated in the area.