Pretoria – Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam, to begin his diplomatic working visit, which kicks off today.
“During his visit, Deputy President Ramaphosa is expected to hold bilateral discussions with his counterpart, Vice President Đặng Thịnh, today,” said the Presidency in a statement.
The Deputy President’s visit is aimed at strengthening bilateral political, economic and trade relations between South Africa and Vietnam.
The Deputy President’s delegation includes Deputy Ministers Nomaindia Mfeketo, Gratitude Magwanishe, Madala Masuku, Barbara Thomson, Bheki Cele and Kebby Maphatsoe.
Deputy President Ramaphosa will also pay a courtesy call on President Tran Dan Quanga and Communist Party of Vietnam General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng.
Tomorrow, the Deputy President will pay his respects at the gravesite of the late former Chairman of the Vietnamese Communist Party, Ho Chi Minh.
He will later interact with Vietnamese business leaders in the ship-building and aquaculture sectors before visiting the Pha Rung ship-building site.
The working visit to Vietnam is at the invitation of the Vietnamese Vice President. The visit will be used to explore possibilities of breaking into new areas of trade and investment to help unlock trade imbalances between South and Vietnam.
Bilateral trade between the two countries has grown significantly from R13.4 billion to R18.5 billion in 2015, making Vietnam the fourth largest trading partner of South Africa in the Asian region.
By 2015, South African imports from Vietnam amounted to R16.3 billion from R11.5 billion in 2014. Exports were at R2.3 billion in 2015 from R1.9 billion in 2014, creating a trade deficit for South Africa amounting to R13.7 billion.
For South Africa, Vietnam offers great trading opportunities, particularly in the mining sector, roads and infrastructure as well as the defence industry.
“The visit of Deputy President Ramaphosa will also seek to diversify South African exports to Vietnam by identifying new areas for market access of South African products. Vietnam is internationally recognised for its expertise in the field of missile defence systems,” said the Presidency.
The Deputy President will also explore possibilities of increasing the number of South African students receiving training in the maritime economy.
Currently, there are six South African students studying at the Maritime University in Hai Phong, Hanoi. South Africa hopes to also increase study courses to include ship building.
Vietnam’s shipbuilding industry is ranked fifth in the world, with 60 ship-building and repairing yards.
Deputy President Ramaphosa’s working visit is expected to build a partnership between Vietnam and South Africa in the development of South Africa’s aquaculture sector.
Vietnam has utilised aquaculture as one of its key development programmes in addressing the challenges of poverty and unemployment.
To deepen bilateral political, economic and trade relations, the two countries launched the Partnership Forum for Economic, Trade, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Co-operation in 2004 to regulate relations between the two countries.
The forum has thus far agreed to expand co-operation to include the areas of defence, security, justice, agriculture, environment, water resources, transport, education and science and technology.
Deputy President Ramaphosa will conclude his visit to Vietnam on Tuesday ahead of his planned visit to Singapore from 5 to 7 October 2016.