Representatives from the Argentine and Vietnamese governments staged an event marking 50 years of bilateral relations at the Palacio San Martín on Tuesday, highlighting commercial ties and prospects for further growth.
The event followed a series of meetings between top government officials and members of the Vietnamese delegation, which was headed by Vuong Dinh Hue, the president of Vietnam's National Assembly.
Hue, who called for the lifting of the trade embargo on Cuba while in Argentina, received a warm welcome from the government, securing meetings with President Alberto Fernández, Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and a host of government ministers and lawmakers while in Buenos Aires.
At Tuesday’s event, Argentine government officials highlighted the early diplomatic recognition of Vietnam in 1973, just 20 days after Juan Domingo Perón had assumed the presidency for a second time.
Most of the attention during the trip was paid to commercial ties and trade, which both nations feel can grow significantly. Vietnam is Argentina’s sixth-largest trading partner
In his speech Eduardo Valdés, national lawmaker and head of the congressional foreign affairs committee, highlighted that three Peronist leaders have visited Vietnam while head of state and that both nations continue to “work on our bilateral promise.”
Trade has increased by six percent over the past decade, highlighted Valdés, who described Vietnam as a “strategic partner in the Asian region.” Back in 2007, trade totalled just US$316 million – a figure that last year had grown to US$4.8 billion, he observed.
Hue, the National Assembly leader, also paid close attention to business, pointing out that Argentina is his nation’s third-largest trading partner in Latin America. He went on to praise Argentina’s cultural and sporting heritage during a speech, as well as highlighting the closeness and similarities of the two national populations despite the distance separating them. “Argentina is in the heart of Vietnam,” he declared.
Undoubtedly, the part of the country closest to the heart of Vietnam is Santa Fe Province. The region has signed a number of agreements with the government in Hanoi, mostly related to industry, agriculture and energy. Growth has soared – in 2001, Vietnam represented 0.9 percent of the province's exports; today, that figure stands at 5.7 percent, reaching US$3.222 billion.
The Asian nation is also said to be interested in securing a free-trade deal with the Mercosur trade bloc, local outlets reported.