The Vietnamese ambassador addressing a community gathering at his residence.
Qatar-Vietnam bilateral relations have grown considerably over the years and last year was particularly significant with key developments in various fields, Vietnamese Ambassador Le Hong Phan has observed.
With the bilateral trade turnover reaching $280mn in 2013, an increase of $35mn over the previous year, the envoy noted that the prospects for further bilateral relations were bright in different areas.
“The official visit to Qatar by Vietnam’s Foreign Minister, Pham Binh Minh, in March 2013 further boosted the already good relations,” he said, adding that “last year, Vietnam and Qatar held the first meeting of the Qatari-Vietnamese joint committee for economic, trade and technical co-operation, where the two countries discussed and agreed on expanding bilateral relations in all fields, including politics, diplomacy, trade, investment, finance, banking”.
Vietnam’s exports to Qatar totaled about $20mn and included products such as seafood, rice, electric cables and wires, wood products. Imports from Qatar mainly comprised liquefied gas, raw plastics and chemicals.
There are currently 800 Vietnamese expatriates in Qatar, 300 of whom arrived last year alone.
The ambassador hoped that more Vietnamese unskilled workers would be part of the construction boom in Qatar. Besides, Vietnamese construction companies are studying the local market for potential joint ventures with their Qatari counterparts.
“In recent years, the Vietnamese community in Qatar has increased (in size) and they are also known as hardworking people who make a remarkable contribution to the development of Qatar,” he stressed.
Similarly, Qatar is undertaking an investment in the oil and gas sector at Vietnam’s Long Son Petrochemical Complex with a stake of 33% ($1.5bn).
Urging his compatriots at a community gathering to mark the beginning of the new lunar year and revive their local traditions, the envoy said: “On the occasion of the Lunar New Year (2014), all fellow Vietnamese citizens residing in Qatar are advised to respect the laws and traditions of the host country and contribute in further strengthening Vietnam-Qatar friendly relations. We are confident that bilateral relations between the two countries will continue to develop in future.”
Further, he noted that Vietnam’s GDP achieved an estimated growth of 5.42% last year, which was higher than the 2012 growth rate of 5.25% and a sign of steady recovery.
He explained that one of the main reasons for the growth was the increase in exports and foreign investment. For the entire 2013, Vietnam’s trade in goods amounted to over $264.26bn in value terms, 15.7% higher than the corresponding period in 2012. Total merchandise exports went up by 15.4% to $132.135bn while total merchandise imports rose by 16.1% to $132.125bn. As a result, Vietnam’s total merchandise exports balanced out total merchandise imports, it was noted.
In 2013, Vietnam received $11.5bn in disbursed foreign direct investment (FDI), a 10% increase over the previous year. Pledged FDI was $21.6bn, a gain of 55 %.
“More foreign companies are coming to set up manufacturing plants in Vietnam. Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker, is building a $2bn plant in Vietnam that could make 120mn handsets a year by 2015,” the ambassador said.
Meanwhile, in terms of the number of visitors to Vietnam, the country recorded 7,572,400 arrivals in 2013, a 10.6 % increase over the previous year. Arrivals for tourist purposes went up by 12.2% to 4,640,900.
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