Ethiopia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and a possible visit to Vietnam by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi were on
the agenda when the Vietnamese deputy minister of Foreign Affairs Le Luong Minh made a short visit to Ethiopia this past week.
Vietnam and Ethiopia have been working to increase trade and recently a team of technical experts from Ethiopia visited Vietnam for advice about WTO negotiations. Ethiopia has gone through three meetings with the WTO so far. But they are not just stopping at the WTO, which Vietnam entered in 2007, after arduous painstaking negotiations, they are working to improve trade in agriculture and textiles.
“We see many potential areas of cooperation between our two brotherly countries such as in rice, coffee, rubber and aquatic food,” Le Luong said.
Viet Nam the second largest coffee exporter in the world after Brazil produced about 1.2 million tons of coffee beans in 2010-11 and exported 1.1 million tons worth USD 2.6 billion.
The pharmaceutical sector is another area with potential as Vietnam produces treatments for Malaria. Do Huu Huy Deputy Director West Africa, Marketing Department at the Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade said there is an exhibition being held in Hanoi, Vietnam every year for exporters and importers and they hope to see more Ethiopian companies there.
Yakob Yala State Minister of Trade agrees with Huy that farming and textiles have huge potential.
“We believe that Main areas of cooperation in Ethiopia could be production of high value agricultural products such as horticulture, and textile and leather garments, as well as livestock and meat products which can be exported to Vietnam,” said Yakob.
He pointed to quota free market access made possible through the United States’ African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) treaty as huge opportunities for trade between the two nations.
Between 2006 and 2011 trade volume increased by an average of 49 percent every year. In the last three years it went up from USD 9.3 million in 2008 to over USD 72 million 2010.
Ethiopia’s exports mainly are agricultural products like soy beans, sesame seeds, natural gums and leather. Imports from Vietnam include industrial materials, polyester, footwear, chewing gum, mosquito nets.
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia bordered on the north by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the west by Laos and in the south east by Cambodia.
It has a land mass area of 331,210 sqm and an estimated 90.5 million inhabitants as of 2011 making it the world’s 13th most populous country.
In 2011, Vietnam’s nominal GDP reached USD 122,722 billion, with a nominal GDP per capita of USD1,374, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In addition to its primary exports of coffee, rubber and tea; it is now the world’s largest producer of cashew nuts, with a one-third of the global share; and the second-largest rice exporter in the world, after Thailand.