31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
Jun 10, 2022 / 11:25

Vietnam – rising destination of Italia investors: Manlio Di Stefano

The Italian diplomat said Vietnam and Italia work as bridges connecting each country with ASEAN and the European Union to boost the multi-sectoral cooperation.

Vietnam has been an attractive destination for Italia’s investors with the operations of more than 100 companies in the country and navigated to be the next shelter for Italian investments post-pandemic.

 Italian Undersecretary of State Manlio Di Stefano (C) and Italian Ambassador to Vietnam Antonio Alessandro at the press conference in Hanoi on June 8. Photo: Duong Duong

Italian Undersecretary of State Manlio Di Stefano said at the press conference at Casa Italia in Hanoi on June 8 before leaving for Ho Chi Minh City for meetings with the Italian business community, Eurocham, firms working in the pharmaceutical industry, and companies and experts on green transition in Vietnam. 

He affirmed that economic ties remain one of the key pillars in the relations. In recent years, Italian investments have been poured into Vietnam thanks to the Southeast Asian country’s significant socio-economic development and fast-growing economy in ASEAN.

Stefano’s three-day visit to Vietnam starting on June 7 focuses on economic ties with a series of activities namely a courtesy exchange with Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Dang Hoang An, a meeting of the 7th Vietnam-Italia Joint Committee on Economic Cooperation, a meeting with Hanoi People’s Committee Vice Chairman Nguyen Manh Quyen, and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Hanoi Association of Main Industries (HAMI) and the Italian Chamber of Commerce (ICHAM).

The Vietnam-Italia Joint Committee on Economic Cooperation is expected to be a firm framework to guide and promote trade ties on the basis of making full use of the EU–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) that came into force in August 2020.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the two-way trade was more than US$5.3 billion, up 13.7% year on year, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs. The figure is estimated to reach $6 billion in 2022 and $10 billion in the next few years.

 Italia works as a bridge connecting Vietnam and the EU. Photo: Minh Vu

Vietnam-Italia relations enhanced bilaterally and multilaterally

During the visit to Vietnam, Stefano and Deputy Foreign Minister Ha Kim Ngoc co-chaired the 4th Political Consultation in which the two sides agreed to boost cooperation in new sectors like health, environment, climate adaptation, and renewable energy.

Ngoc ratified Vietnam attached importance to developing the strategic partnership with Italia that is demonstrated through the effective implementation of the Action Plan for the Strategic Partnership 2021-2023, giving momentum to the multi-sectoral relations.

Stefano suggested further cooperation on innovation, space, hydrogen energy, and cybersecurity. He highly appreciated the mutual support in Covid-19 with Vietnam gifted Italia masks while Rome donated nearly three million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Vietnam.

The two countries agreed to enhance visit exchange and mutual cooperation mechanisms to commemorate the 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations and 10 years of the Strategic Partnership in 2023.

Vietnam and Italy jointly held the 7th Joint Committee on Science and Technology Cooperation in July 2020.

On this occasion, Stefano said the Vietnam-Italia relations have been developing in a wide range of sectors namely education with the cooperation among universities, tourism, culture, and people-to-people connection with more and more Vietnamese students studying in Italia. For that reason, Italia will soon establish the Italian Culture Center in Hanoi to fulfill agreements in culture and boost Italian values in the country that Stefano named “a strategic partner in the region.”

With Italy formally becoming ASEAN’s development partner in 2020, cooperation has been extended to sustainable connectivity, space collaboration, and the implementation of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

On this occasion, Stefano underscored the role of Vietnam in ASEAN and the Indo-Pacific, mostly as ASEAN Chair in 2020. Italia wants to be a bridge connecting the European Union with ASEAN and wishes to share, together with Vietnam, a political vision as Vietnam has an important role in ASEAN, he told at the press conference.

Stefano said Italy highly appreciated Vietnam’s role in the Indo-Pacific, the Mekong basin, and its every effort in facilitating the regional peace and stability amid escalating tensions caused by China in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, Italia always favors peaceful means in dealing with maritime issues which are in line with the principles of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Stefano said in answering a question raised by The Hanoi Times on the role of Italia in bridging Vietnam and the EU, the role of Vietnam in connecting Italia with ASEAN, as well as Italia and EU’s stance on the South China Sea issues.

In this regard, Italia and the EU highly appreciate the role of ASEAN in the region, he said, sharing that they understand the situation in the South China Sea as they face the same problems in the Mediterranean Sea. “We always advocate a peaceful approach to deal with escalations,” Stefano said, adding that “It’s time for Europe to stand on the right side.” 

The Italian diplomat highlighted the role of ASEAN Centrality in stabilizing the region, saying the European Union and ASEAN can stand more firmly against any kind of pressure from abroad.

“We condemn the increasing building of islands in the South China Sea,” he said, adding that Italia and the EU will continue exerting political pressure to avoid escalations while increasing the presence of companies in the region.

“We are using any international consent for the maintenance of stability and peace,” Stefano said, noting that they treasure a rules-based approach and will stick to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to the solutions.