Vietnam is setting a target of US $100 million for two -way trade volume with Sri Lanka. Although bilateral trade has been expanding over recent years to $61 million as well as growing cooperation in other fields, the results have not matched the two countries’ potentials, said Ton Sinh Thanh, Vietnamese Ambassador (designate) in Sri Lanka.
He was speaking to the Business Times soon after arriving in the island on Monday in a preparatory visit before re-opening the mission at the end of the month, after three decades.
Sri Lanka was one of the first countries to establish relations with Vietnam and in 1971 Vietnam opened a resident mission in Colombo while Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in China was concurrently accredited to Vietnam. Sri Lanka opened a mission in Hanoi in January 2003. Vietnam withdrew its resident representation in Colombo in 1982 due to economic reasons with the Vietnamese Ambassador in India being concurrently accredited to Sri Lanka.
Mr Thanh appreciated Sri Lanka’s socio-economic development achievements, particularly its high economic growth rates over the recent years, that helped raise the country’s per capita income to one of the highest levels in South Asia.
The Ambassador-designate said that there is a growing potential for further co-operation between the two countries especially in trade, investments and tourism and the business community of both countries should make use of these opportunities with prospects of promoting Sri Lanka as a destination for those who also visit Vietnam.
Vietnam’s tariff structure is currently under review and a more liberalized tariff in accordance with WTO regulations is expected, he said. He said that he will take every possible step to attract Vietnamese businessmen to invest in Sri Lanka adding that he hopes to bring US$100 million investment soon to the country. He welcomed the suggestion made by the Secretary of the Sri Lanka –Vietnam Solidarity Association S. Sudasinghe for the setting up of a Vietnam trade centre in Colombo, and to promote tourism in two countries. He also agreed to look into the possibility of starting direct flights between the two countries.
Currently Sri Lanka enjoys favourable import duties for Sri Lankan products in Vietnam. These opportunities have to be explored by the Sri Lankan business community, he said. Today Vietnam has emerged as one of the most promising destinations for foreign investments especially in the areas of manufacturing and services.
There are also a considerable number of Sri Lankans living and working in Vietnam, mostly professionals attached to multinational organizations, hospitality sector etc. Several Sri Lankan companies have investments in garments, desiccated coconut industries and service sectors such as shipping etc.