In recent years, relations between Italy and ASEAN countries, including Viet Nam, have continued to develop fruitfully and productively. 2018 proved to be another excellent year for this thriving relationship. Viet Nam and Italy celebrated the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations and five years since the establishment of a strategic partnership, marked by the visit of Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Truong Hoa Binh to Italy in October.
Viet Nam is gaining ever more attention from Italian investors and entrepreneurs. Nowadays it is one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia, with a vibrant market of more than 95 million consumers, an emerging middle class and a young, dynamic workforce. The growth rate in 2018 reached a ten-year high at 7.08%, leading to GDP per capita of USD2,540, up 6.3% year on year. Under a socialist-oriented market economy, Viet Nam’s economic structure is shifting towards modernization and industrialization, with a shrinking share of agriculture and an increasing contribution of services and industrial production.
Beyond the Vietnamese government’s ongoing efforts towards economic reform, the country also consistently pursues a comprehensive integration policy with the focus placed on international economic integration. At this stage, Viet Nam has so far implemented and ratified 11 free trade agreements (FTAs), notably the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The country is preparing to complete, sign, ratify and enforce five other FTAs, including the European Union-Viet Nam FTA (EVFTA), a very promising agreement that could yield significant benefits for Italian businesses once it takes effect. Under the scope of this agreement, 99% tariffs on goods traded between the European market and Viet Nam will be eliminated, creating incentives and new playgrounds for EU companies who wish to invest in our country. Furthermore, as a member of many important economic co-operation mechanisms in the region and globally, such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the World Economic Forum (WEF), Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC), etc., Viet Nam is committed to working with other partners, including Italy, towards a stable and predictable rule-based multilateral trading regime that will positively contribute to the greater welfare and economic development of both our economies.
As ambassador to Italy, I make it one of my key goals to strengthen the relationship between Italy and Viet Nam, as well as with ASEAN as a whole. In doing so, through the launch of this journal, together with other joint activities, including the upcoming Third High-level Dialogue on ASEAN-Italy Economic Relations, which was held in Hanoi this June, I hope that they will provide essential catalysts to advance our partnership to the next level, bringing prosperity and new opportunities to all the people and entrepreneurs across our countries.
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