UK cabinet minister visits Vietnam to enhance partnership

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The UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills began his first official visit to Vietnam Wednesday as the UK attempts to build partnerships with emerging markets.

The visit, ending Friday, includes meetings between Secretary Vince Cable and Vietnamese senior leaders, local Ho Chi Minh City authorities, and representatives of both the British and Vietnamese business communities as well.

The cabinet minister opened Thursday the first lecture of the International Financial Services Lecture Program, a series of six weekly lectures held in HCMC through December 8 to help improve skill levels among Vietnamese professionals in the financial sector. He also marked the inauguration of direct flights between the UK and Vietnam, scheduled for early December.

Cable's visit reaffirms the UK's commitment to building a business relationship with Vietnam while at the same time reinforcing the need for Vietnam to ensure it remains an attractive destination for foreign investment, the British Embassy in Hanoi said in a statement.

Speaking prior to his arrival in Vietnam, Cable said that the Strategic Partnership signed between Vietnam and the UK in 2010 included a joint commitment to double bilateral trade by 2013. One of the reasons for his visit was to keep up momentum towards that goal.

"There are many opportunities for British business in Vietnam and companies are excited about the longer term potential of this emerging market," he said. "I hope that we can work together to address outstanding challenges in the business environment so that trade between the two countries can flourish."

The UK and Vietnam aim to increase the two-way trade volume to US$4 billion and UK direct investment in Vietnam to $3 billion by 2013.

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