Trade relationship between Vietnam and Africa is yet to achieve its full potential in spite of its significant growth in recent years especially in the fashion industry. This is according to Le Hoang Tai, deputy director of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade).

“Many African businesses and consumers are not even aware of Vietnamese fashion products” says Le Hoang Tai during the 2022 Vietnam-Africa business matching webinar on fashion products recently.

Attended by over 50 Vietnamese and African fashion businesses, the event was seeking to support Vietnamese and African enterprises in the production and trading of fashion products. The support was through promoting advertising, seeking partners, connecting business opportunities and export to African markets.

Vietnam’s impressive growth in increasing bilateral ties with Africa has caught the eye of African leaders because they see similarities and opportunities to emulate what Vietnam has done so well. In spite of Vietnam being an extremely export-oriented economy, its trade with Africa is limited but a partnership with it will mean a great deal for the continent seeing it is a non-traditional partner.

2021 saw a remarkable growth in trade turnover between the two sides with Vietnam’s exports to Africa being worth $3.36 billion, an 18.1 per cent increase as compared to the 2020 figure. Africa’s exports reached $4.71 billion, a 28.6 per cent increase as compared to the 2020 figure.

Vietnam recently set out an ambitious plan to reach high-income status by 2045. To achieve this it will seek new market frontiers and production bases which Africa can be a source for. African nations could gain a lot from Vietnam’s bilateral approach towards the continent . Vietnam offers an opportunity for shared learning and growth, information sharing, technology transfer and learning.

On the other hand, African governments seeking partnership with Vietnam have raw materials and manufactured goods to trade in. For bilateral trade to happen seamlessly, Africa could engage with strong leadership and offer a political commitment towards long-term cooperation.

Long term cooperation between the two should be based on identified mutual benefits, with clearly defined responsibilities in the cooperation arrangement which should go beyond government-to-government relations and include business-to-business actors, as these can be motivated change agents.

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