H. E. Ambassador Angeloni,
On behalf of UNIDO, I would like to thank you all for being here today at this point of the Vietnam Road Show, in the presence of an important Vietnamese delegation. Please allow me to also thank Confindustria Padova for organizing this meeting. This Road Show, strongly supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and H.E. Ambassador Angeloni present here today, is the follow-up to the ASEAN Awareness Summit held in Rome last week, to which several government representatives of Southeast Asia participated.
Today we are here to provide an overview of the business potential offered by Vietnam. This is a first step to raise awareness of the opportunities available in this part of the world and a starting point to encourage further analysis, with the purpose of identifying specific networking opportunities, economic cooperation, and joint venture possibilities.
This event is also meant to be an invitation to invest some of your time to visit and become acquainted with this country, as it represents an access point to the ASEAN region: an area with nearly 600 million inhabitants. It is a region which, in recent years, has registered an impressive growth process, thanks to the increasing economic integration of the area, especially with the economies of China, Japan and Korea.
This is a dynamic market with a huge potential for Italian companies. The ASEAN countries are great footwear exporters and Italy, in this sector, is a net importer. Italy has the know-how and technology to support the country in this industrialization process.
As you know, UNIDO’s main goal is to enable the sustainable economic and industrial growth of the private sector of developing countries, through the transfer of efficient productive processes, technologies and management techniques.
In this context, and thanks to a EUR 3 million contribution by the Italian Government, our organization is implementing the project “SME Cluster Development in Vietnam,” an ambitious plan aimed at transferring Italian know-how and technologies to improve the competitiveness and the capabilities of Vietnamese SMEs, through a technical assistance program and the promotion of the Italy-Vietnam synergy.
This project aims at developing SME clusters, an industrial system organized on a district basis that is common in Italy but still not present to a significant extent in developing countries. I believe that the development of SME clusters, as underlined by the Ministers present at the ASEAN Awareness Summit, will help the Vietnamese industry to improve its competitiveness and better integrate into the world economy, while contributing to the sustainable growth of the country.
UNIDO has already completed the mapping of SME clusters in Vietnam, by selecting three target groups with high development potential among which there are: a textiles and garment cluster, one related to footwear and leather processing, and finally one on furniture and woodworking. These industrial sectors were chosen because they are among the top five Vietnamese exports; however, they are low value-added sectors, characterized by poor integration and a lack of planning and marketing capabilities.
The selected clusters and their trade associations have received the necessary technical support by the Italian experts, who are here today, and will be available in the afternoon desk.
In the current phase of this important project, it is fundamental to promote long-term cooperation relations and agreements between Italian and Vietnamese associations at a district and enterprise level. It is in this context that UNIDO ITPO Italy is carrying out a number of initiatives aimed at promoting the opportunities offered by Vietnam to the Italian entrepreneurial system. Events like this one represent a valuable occasion to explore the potential of this country.
UNIDO is internationally recognized as the most important agency dealing with SMEs and clusters development in developing countries and emerging economies. Our Cluster Development Program, led by Mr. Gerardo Patacconi, gave significant results in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and it is likely to be successful also in Vietnam.
I would like to conclude by stating that our office in Italy has two priority sectors: agro-industry, which includes the sectors involved in this project, and energy and environment. Jointly with the Italian Cooperation and the Ministry of Environment, UNIDO ITPO Italy carries out specific programs, aimed at fostering sustainable development in developing countries. In this sense, we try to support the local small and medium enterprises, by promoting direct investments and encouraging economic, as well as industrial relations based on a win-win cooperation.
Once again, I would like to thank all those present here today and I renew the invitation to participate in the entrepreneurial mission that we are organizing in Vietnam, in Ho Chi Minh City, from May 24th to 26th.