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Italy expects to become Vietnam’s leading agricultural partner
Minh Nguyen 07:32, 2024/03/04
The Vietnamese prime minister welcomes the increasing supply of Italian agricultural products to serve local consumers.

Italian Minister of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry Francesco Lollobrigida expressed his hope at a meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh early this month during his visit that is expected to strengthen multisectoral cooperation of the strategic partnership. 

 Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and Italian Minister of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry Francesco Lollobrigida at a meeting in Hanoi on March 1. Photo: VGP

Francesco Lollobrigida stressed the importance of economic-commercial relations, especially in the agri-food sector, and praised the operations of agro-industrial Italian companies in Vietnam as well as the positive social and environmental impacts of their investments in the country.

At the meeting, Chinh requested the two sides to focus on farm produce processing, technology transfer, digital transformation, and circular economy in the agricultural sector while connecting businesses of the two countries in developing agriculture.

The Vietnamese prime minister also encouraged the availability of Italian agricultural products in the country to serve local consumers.

Briefing Vietnam’s plan on producing one million hectares of low-emission rice in the Mekong Delta, he said the rice hub would contribute to the adaptation to global climate change. He suggested that the two countries should strengthen decentralized cooperation between regions.

PM Chinh also requested Italy to promote the European Union (EU) to remove yellow card warning imposed by the European Commission (EC) against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) to support the export of Vietnam’s seafood. On this occasion, he expected Italy to urge the EU to ratify the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA).

On a broad move, Chinh requested the two countries continue to collaborate to address and settle global changes, including climate change, food security, and water security. Regarding the cooperation within the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), he expected further assistance from Italy, one of the countries in the International Partners Group (IPG) supporting Vietnam in JETP. Adopted in December 2022 by Vietnam and IPG members, foreign partners, through the JETP, pledged an amount of US$15.5 billion for Vietnam within five years.

Currently, Italy is Vietnam’s third largest trade partner in the EU after Germany and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Vietnam is Italy’s largest trade partner in ASEAN with two-way trade reaching more than $6 billion in 2023. The two countries celebrated the 50th anniversary of establishing bilateral relations and 10 years of strategic partnership in 2023.

Francesco Lollobrigida encouraged the policies undertaken by the Government of Vietnam concerning energy transition and food security, global challenges to which both countries dedicate the utmost attention.

During the visit to Vietnam, he met with Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Le Minh Hoan. In the conversation with his counterpart, the minister hoped for greater access to Italian agricultural products to the Vietnamese market, both in the framework of the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Vietnam and in the context of bilateral ongoing phytosanitary negotiations.

He also highlighted how Italy can be a helpful and dependable partner for any training and technical support programs that may be offered to Vietnamese operators in the fields of phytosanitary, circular economy, agricultural mechanization, and sustainable management of forestry and fisheries. At the meeting, Minister Lollobrigida and Minister Le Minh Hoan signed a Memorandum of Understanding on collaboration in the agri-food sector.

On the same, Minister Lollobrigida visited the photographic exhibition “Italian Rice – Underwater Farming” exhibited at Casa Italia in Hanoi and will remain open to the public until March 14. The exhibition also celebrates the commonality and similarities between Italy and Vietnam in the cultivation of this very important cereal. Rice farming, indeed, has always been of great importance for both our countries, which boast important food traditions in which rice is the main ingredient of various traditional dishes, from Risotto to banh chung (Vietnamese sticky rice cake).

This was followed by a meeting with the President of the Commission for External Relations of the Vietnamese Communist Party, Le Hoai Trung, with whom Minister Lollobrigida discussed the centrality of scientific-technological cooperation for bilateral relations and Italy and Vietnam’s common commitment to promoting food security and the development of agro-industrial value chains.

Also during the visit, Lollobrigida met with the Italian business community and awarded the Italian restaurateurs in Hanoi for their significant contribution to the promotion of Italian cuisine in the world, candidate to be UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage. 

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