After last week’s visit of Indonesian Vice Minister for Commerce Bayu Krishnamurti, Vietnam’s Ministry of Trade Vice Minister Tran Tuan Anh arrived this week to meet with trade officials from the Philippines.

“We have been actively engaging our key ASEAN partners to provide greater market access for our exporters and SMEs. Our dialogues with Vietnam focus on expanding our market access particularly for flour and processed fish,” Undersecretary for Trade and Industry Adrian Cristobal Jr said.

Vice Minister Tran underscored the need to enhance trade, investments and economic cooperation between the two countries. He welcomed the prospect of increased trade relations with the Philippines. He said that Vietnam is interested in importing more industrial products from the Philippines, including electronics, chemicals, and fertilizers. The Vietnam visit also aims to promote exports of rice, textile garments, seafoods and agricultural products to the Philippines.

Vietnam’s almost 100 million population is an attractive market for the Philippines. Philippine top exports to Vietnam include fertilizers, electronic micro assemblies, vegetable oils from coconut and copra, and smart cards. Philippine companies located in Vietnam include Unilab (United Pharma Vietnam Inc.), San Miguel Brewery Vietnam, San Miguel Haiphong Glass Co. Ltd., Universal Robina Corporation, Jollibee Foods, Splash International, Century Tuna, Rebisco Group, Royal Cargo, and Manila Water.

Vietnam is keen to explore investment opportunities in energy, processing, transportation and agriculture in the Philippines.

“The work that we have been doing in the Philippines since 2010 provides the leverage to better collaborate with other member-states towards the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community. The economic argument for closer regional ties in ASEAN is convincing. The formation of a well-functioning, seamless market is expected to deliver economic efficiencies and attract the investments to better serve the growth prospects of ASEAN economies,” Cristobal added.

Undersecretary Cristobal spoke on behalf of Philippine companies trading with and those currently located in Vietnam. He raised the problems faced by Philippine firms regarding unclear Vietnamese trade and business regulations. Vice Minister vowed timely action on the issues raised. Both parties agreed to convene soon the 2nd Joint Trade Committee to discuss further areas of bilateral cooperation and to continuously support each other on both regional and multinational levels.

Together, the ASEAN member-states comprise a powerful economic bloc with a market of 608 million people, a combined income (GDP) of US$ 2,327 billion and exports to the world reaching US$ 1,263 in 2012.