A quarter of a century of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and South Korea has yielded substantial progress, especially in investment and trade, said Bui Huy Son, head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Viet Nam Trade Promotion Department (Vietrade).

Two-way trade increased 86 times from US$0.5 billion in 1992 to $43.4 billion last year, he said at a workshop in Ha Noi yesterday. South Korea is Viet Nam’s third largest trading partner, while Viet Nam is Korea’s fourth largest trading partner.

In terms of investment, South Korea surpassed Japan to become the largest foreign investor in Viet Nam in November 2014.

Cooperation has been boosted further since the free trade agreement between Viet Nam and Korea (VKFTA) went into effect in December, 2015, the director added.

Manufacturing sectors are the leading sector of export growth to Korea, enjoying preferential FTA conditions. The sector achieved $5.4 billion in exports in the first six months this year, an increase of 28.6 per cent over the same period last year.

Exports of agricultural and aquatic products reached $497.2 million, increasing 29.3 per cent over the same period last year.

Under Vietnam’s tariff reduction commitments, the import of Korean machinery and electronic products, spare parts and raw materials of textiles, leather and footwear increased by 16-20 per cent.

“I believe that besides the efforts of Vietnamese agencies in supporting Vietnamese businesses in applying the VKFTA, the support of the Republic of Korea Embassy in Viet Nam and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) was valuable and notable,” Son said.

“With the determination of the two’s governments and the proactivity of enterprises, the goal of reaching bilateral trade turnover of $70 billion by 2020 is feasible,” he emphasised.

“Kotra, Vietrade, the general department of customs and other Vietnamese agencies are doing their best to instruct Vietnamese businesses to apply VKFTA,” said Han Kyung Joon, deputy director of Kotra. But, he added, to maximize VKFTA opportunities, businesses themselves need to be proactive to thoroughly study the agreement and grab investment and business opportunities. Vietnamese companies could also ask for support from Kotra’s VKFTA support centre in Ha Noi.

Park Chul Ho, director general of Kotra, advised Vietnamese exporters to ensure good preparation of papers and procedures, such as certificates of origin (C/Os).