Vietnam - Key Trade Partner of South Africa

9:43:22 PM | 5/30/2011

On May 23, Dr Doan Duy Khuong, Vice President of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) received Mr Ratubatsi Super Molor, South African Ambassador to Vietnam. The two leaders appreciated the recent economic cooperation between Vietnam and South Africa and emphasised cooperation opportunities in sectors, namely mining, tourism, petrochemicals, jewellery and services. They also emphasised the possibility to establish direct flights and maritime transport in order to facilitate travel and trade between the two countries. On this occasion, reporter Dang Yen interviewed the Ambassador on related issues.
Would you please evaluate the cooperation between Vietnam – South Africa for the past years?
Bilateral trade between South Africa and Vietnam increased rapidly from a low base since 18 years ago. Vietnam is at present a key trading partner of South Africa within the South East Asian region. South African and Vietnamese trade and bilateral relations in general have been further strengthened with an exchange of a state visits between South Africa and Vietnam since the normalisation of relations in 1994, post-Apartheid. In this regard the South African Deputy President visited Vietnam in October 2010 and the Vietnamese Vice President visited South Africa in May this year. A number of agreements as well as Memoranda of Understanding have been signed and more are due to be signed, further formalising relations between South Africa and Vietnam. 
Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of South Africa. Would you please talk about South African tourism and the cooperation prospects in this sector between the two countries?
South Africa has the world’s richest floral kingdom, as well as being home to one-sixth of the world’s marine species. Furthermore, it has more species of wild animals than North and South America or Europe and Asia together. Its diversity, abundant sunshine and breathtaking scenery make it popular as a holiday destination. About 10 million tourists visit South Africa each year. As a gateway to Africa, South Africa is also fast becoming a preferred business tourism destination. Since both South Africa and Vietnam’s populations are becoming more and more economically empowered, it allows them to travel to foreign destinations. In this regard South Africans are also increasingly visiting South East Asia, including Vietnam, which presents Vietnam an opportunity to tap into this lucrative source of tourists. South Africa is also experiencing an increase in tourists from Vietnam after hosting the World Football cup in 2010, which popularised South Africa as a tourist destination. Vietnam has been invited to take part in South Africa’s largest tourism exhibition, Tourism Indaba, which should further enhance tourism between the two countries.
What do you think of the possibility to open direct flights and maritime transport routes between Vietnam and South Africa??
Transport is a demand driven activity. Therefore direct flights and maritime routes between South Africa and Vietnam will become viable once the passenger as well as cargo volume allows for it. When the two countries’ Vice Presidents met in May 2010 this matter was discussed and hopefully the responsible ministries of both countries will work thereon.
South Africa is famous for its abundance of mineral resources and its mining companies are key players in the global industry. How would you assess the potential for cooperation in this sector?
South Africa is richly endowed with mineral resources and about 50 percent of the country’s export earnings are derived from mining. It has for example 87.7 percent of the world’s platinum group metals, 40 percent of the gold, 80 percent of manganese and 72 percent of chromium. South Africa is a potential supplier of processed metals to Vietnam, as well as high value gemstones such as diamonds. Regarding the latter, Vietnam as well as South Africa has a viable jewellery manufacturing base and therefore the two countries should work together in sharing technology and design trends in order to improve their capacity in this industry. 
Would you please give your opinion on the investment environment in Vietnam? How can we best innovate to attract more South African investors?
Since Vietnam is in the 7 percent GDP growth “club” of nations, with a relatively youthful 90 million strong population, attained a middle income country status with a rising middle class and higher disposable income levels, this country is drawing the attention of South African businesses to enter the local market. The number of business delegations between the two countries is a testimonial to this development. In this regard there should be more bilateral interaction and flow of information, such as what was achieved when the Vietnamese Vice President, accompanied by a trade delegation, recently visited South Africa.