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European Commission


Brussels, 11 November 2013

EU SMEs explore business opportunities in Vietnam

As part of the EU’s efforts to deepen economic relations with countries in the dynamic ASEAN region, Vice President Antonio Tajani, European Commissioner for Enterprise and industry, will lead a “Mission for growth” to Vietnam on 12 and 13 November. He will be accompanied by 47 representatives from EU industry associations and companies, in particular those operating in key areas of EU-Vietnam business: the tourism, agri-business and manufactured goods sectors. During his visit he will inaugurate the EU-Vietnam Business Network. This visit is part of a series of missions to help European enterprises better profit from fast growing international markets.

Trade and investment between the EU and Vietnam has been steadily growing over recent years, with EU companies considering the country as a potential production base, a lucrative and growing market and one of the key gateways to the wider and increasingly integrated ASEAN market. However, when compared to Asian competitors, the share of European trade and investment is slowly falling as European small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) face difficulties in establishing a permanent foothold in Vietnam.

The main objectives of this Mission for Growth to Vietnam are:

  • to promote innovation and sustainable and inclusive growth in the EU and in Vietnam;

  • to help EU companies, and in particular SMEs, to operate in the ASEAN region; and

  • to promote EU industry in targeted sectors.

Business networking in Ho Chi Minh City

On 12 November, the mission will be in Ho Chi Minh City - Vietnam’s economic capital - and the companies involved will participate in a matchmaking event with local entrepreneurs, to generate business to business information sharing and potential business leads. To further help EU businesses operate in Vietnam Vice President Tajani will also witness the inauguration of the new EU Vietnam Business Network (EVBN).

Agricultural products are a significant part of the EU’s exports to Vietnam (approximately 13% of the value of all exports to Vietnam in 2011) and also of Vietnam’s exports from the EU (approximately 20% in 2011). For this reason, during the two day visit, participating companies active in the food supply chain – the processing, packaging and retailing of food – can also attend the "15th Forum on Eco-Innovation and UNEP Roundtable on Eco-innovation; Cutting waste; Resource efficiency and eco-innovation for sustainable food chains". The event will gather European and Asian actors from the public and private sectors, technical institutions and intermediaries working with SMEs, to examine how resource efficiency and eco-innovation can contribute to both business opportunities and more sustainable food chains. It will be combined with a brokerage event to encourage participants to form new partnerships and launch collaborative project proposals.

Discussions on SME policy and tourism in Hanoi

The agenda of 13 November will be dedicated to high level meetings with government representatives in Hanoi, the political capital. Vice-President Tajani will meet Nguyen Tan Dung, the Vietnamese Prime Minister, and Vu Huy Hoang, Minister of Industry and Trade, as well as Bui Quang Vinh, Minister of Planning and Investment.

To ensure a higher degree of cooperation between export oriented SMEs on both sides, a letter of intent to establish a dialogue on SME Policy will be signed. The dialogue will pay particular attention to the exchange of best practices to create SME friendly legislation; public–private business consultations and cooperation in research and innovation; the exchange of best practices for SME internationalisation and cooperation and the development of strong business associations.

Vice-Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism Ho Anh Tuan will also meet with Vice President Tajani to sign a letter of intent to examine ways of strengthening relations and cooperation in the field of sustainable tourism. Its aim is for the EU and Vietnam to work jointly towards:

The establishment of a periodic dialogue and exchange of information on respective initiatives in the field of tourism, to ensure the development of sustainability and competitiveness in tourism

The exchange of good practices in the development of sustainable tourism among tourism authorities and main stakeholders, including the academic world, notably in the fields of natural and cultural heritage preservation and promotion, small and medium-size enterprises, training and skills, and the improvement of tourism services quality.

Economic and trade data on Vietnam (2012)

Population: 89.5 m

GDP, current prices:107.2 bn

GDP per capita, current prices:2 687

Actual individual consumption per capita:776.7

EU exports to Vietnam: €5 351 m

EU imports from Vietnam:18 514 m

Stock of EU FDI in Vietnam:0.8 bn

Inflation rate: 9.1 %

Vietnam is an important economic player in ASEAN and the Asia region. Thanks to the political and economic reforms (known as Doi Moi, “renovation”) launched in the 1980s, Vietnam has been transformed from one of the poorest countries in the world to a lower middle income country and from a centrally planned economy towards a more market oriented economy. In terms of trade in goods, Vietnam is today a significantly integrated economy, with exports representing three quarters of its GDP. However, Vietnam’s reputation as a successful South-East Asian “tiger” has been severely affected by the economic challenges which both Vietnam and the EU have faced since the international financial crisis in 2008.

Vietnam is becoming an increasingly important trading partner for the EU. In 2012, the EU surpassed the US to become the most important export market for Vietnamese products. A large proportion of the value of EU’s exports to Vietnam comes from machinery and electrical equipment (22.3%), and vehicles and transport equipment (20.9%).

After China, the EU is now Vietnam’s second largest two-way trade partner, with an estimated trade deficit in 2012 of over €13 billion. Of the goods Vietnam exported to the EU in 2102, apart from agricultural goods, footwear and clothing accessories were significant (11.5%).

In June 2012 negotiations for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and Vietnam were launched. Five rounds of negotiations have taken place so far, and the most recent round was concluded last week.


This visit to Vietnam is part of a sequence of three “Missions for Growth” from 12 to 16 November 2013, to the following ASEAN countries: Vietnam, Myanmar/Burma and Thailand.

More information on the Mission for Growth to Vietnam

More information on Missions for Growth

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