Vietnam’s economy is enjoying a huge boom.
With growth rates amongst the highest in Asia (8.2% in 2006 and an average of 7.5 % in the last five years, the growth rate is the highest in Asia after China, in 2005 the stock market gained 117%), the economy is in total ferment and now completely integrated in international trade (with one of the highest rates of opening to overseas trade in Southeast Asia). The youthful, and industrious, population is considered a case study by big international development agencies for the extraordinary results achieved in the fight against poverty. Vietnam is now a rising star in the Asian firmament.
Its entry to WTO, on 11 January 2007, therefore opened a new phase in the history of Vietnam, a crucial step for the future this country that allows greater trade investments and opportunities for foreign investors.
The country is of medium size (85,000,000 inhabitants, of whom 60% are young – under 30 years of age), with a historical tendency to medium regional power, so Vietnam is a suitable emerging partner in Southeast Asia for Italy.
Doi Moi - a policy of “renewal” launched in 1986 – has opened the way for a reform that has brought the abovementioned brilliant economic performance and earned Vietnam renewed credibility with an enhanced regional and international profile.
The country has recently promoted an ambitious reform programme that aims to restructure the business environment, and the reforms have been rewarded with large influxes of foreign investments, which exceeded a record ten billion dollars in 2006.
2007 saw a turning point in bilateral relations between Italy and Vietnam, with an economic mission headed by Massimo D’Alema, the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, visiting in October.
One of the most significant agreements stipulated was with Piaggio, currently the biggest Italian investor in Vietnam, who will be producing its Vespa moped for the Asian market there.
Trade between our countries tripled from 1999 to 2003, and in 2006 hit a record 912,000,000 euros thanks to Italian exports (+38.2%), and continuing Vietnamese imports (+29.5%).
Nonetheless, economic and trade relations with Vietnam are still well below the potential seen in a country enjoying massive expansion, which led Minister D’Alema to affirm that today “Vietnam is in a phase of irresistible development ... which is not dissimilar to the economic boom of the Fifties and Sixties, when Italy was a major player in the so-called economic miracle”.
In November, the President of Lombardy Regional Council, Roberto Formigoni, led a new mission of economic and cultural impact, which was a prelude to “important exchanges between the Vietnamese people and the residents of Lombardy”.
In April 2008, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, will visit Vietnam.
Significant Italian investments have been implemented to-date by Perfetti, a confectionery manufacturer, and Merloni Termo Sanitari, a sector leader with its Ariston range. Moreover, Pirelli, Technip and Danieli have invested and are already achieving good results.