In a recent interview granted to Vietnam News Agency correspondents in Algiers, Nhuan noted that trade between Vietnam and these countries and Africa in general have all been affected by COVID-19.
He cited preliminary figures from the General Department of Vietnam Customs that showed exports to Africa in January-May experienced a year-on-year decline of 6.1 percent. Meanwhile, African countries’ earnings from exports to Vietnam also fell slightly, by 1.2 percent. Trade items most affected were cotton, raw cashew nuts, wood, copper, and minerals.
Vietnam’s exports to some African countries, however, headed upwards, as those countries boosted import of rice, confectionery, cereal products, pepper, and cashew nuts for stockpile in response to the pandemic. Vietnamese rice shipments to Senegal surged 26-fold in volume and 18.3-fold in value, contributing to raising total export turnover to the country by 88.6 percent.
Though the governments of Algeria, Senegal, Mali, Gambia, and Niger have yet to determine when international flights will resume, trade and cargo transport have been maintained.
The trade counselor suggested Vietnamese businesses focus on exporting farm produce and foodstuffs such as rice, coffee, cashew nuts, pepper, and cereal products, as well as medicine, means of transport, and automobile and motorcycle spare parts, all of which are in high demand.
Regarding international integration, Nhuan said African countries are striving to realise the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), which is expected to increase regional trade to nearly 60 percent by 2022.
He noted that governments in Africa have been encouraging foreign investment in the processing industry and developing high added value products.
Trade between Vietnam and Africa stood US$7.4 billion last year, of which US$3.4 billion was from Vietnam’s exports, up 17 percent against 2018.