Hanoi – Italy hopes Vietnam to continue to connect Italian businesses with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), expressed Italian Deputy Minister for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, Andrea Olivero, at a recent workshop entitled “Vietnam – Gateway to Asia – Opportunities for Italian small-and medium-sized enterprises” in Rome. Vietnam has proved a reliable partner of Italy in the region, he said, adding that Italy is willing to share experience with Vietnam in the research and application of new technology, according to Vietnamese Embassy. Accordingly, Olivero also emphasises on the increase in the two-way trade between Italy and Vietnam in the recent years after the two nations established bilateral strategic partnership in 2013. Vietnamese Ambassador to Italy, Cao Chinh Thien, described Vietnam as a promising market with a large population of more than 90 million and an ideal destination to develop business in automation, footwear, garment-textile, services, fashion and agriculture. The Southeast Asian country also serves as a gateway to access the ASEAN market, offering opportunities for Italian investors to bring technology and high-quality goods to Vietnam and other ASEAN member states, the Vietnamese Ambassador added. Both Italy and Vietnam have strengths in agriculture and their products are supplementary. Italy is famous for cheese, wine and fruit while Vietnam is strong at farm and aquatic products, he said. Vietnamese Trade Counselor in Italy, Nguyen Duc Thanh, introduced cooperation opportunities in Vietnam with low production cost and numerous preferential policies. The workshop was co-organised by Unioncamere, Chamber of Commerce Italy Vietnam and Vietnamese Embassy in Italy. Vietnam is a country that offers a promising expanding market with GDP growth of over 6% in recent years and increasing consumer purchasing power. Vietnamese Prime Minister, on receiving Italian Deputy Minister of Economic Development Ivan Scalfarotto in November, 2017 suggested Italian firms increase investments in Vietnam, adding that the Vietnamese Government would create favourable conditions for Italian investors. He listed a number of spheres for bilateral cooperation, including tourism, green technology, transport, and infrastructure and stressed the need to open a direct air route between Italy and Vietnam.