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Russian companies beat path to Hanoi as Vietnamese market beckons

Dozens of Russian companies are in Vietnam in a bid to win business from its traditional partner, China, with the energy sector seen as showing particular promise.

Nine hours by plane from Moscow gets you to Vietnam – and it’s a route taken by sixty Russian firms exhibiting what they’ve got to offer in Hanoi. Industry and Trade Minister, Viktor Khristenko, says that despite the economic crisis, Russian trade with its long-standing Asian partner has increased.

“Between 2007 and 2008, trade with Vietnam grew by 45 percent. Now we are looking for ways to diversify our co-operation. We have long-established relations with Vietnam which we see as a hub in the region – from where we can expand.”

Serious investment is expected in the gas and oil sectors, while electricity generation is another area where Russian experience can win business locally.

Many Asian countries including Vietnam face electricity supply difficulties – with economic growth meaning increased consumption. The demand for power is something Pyotr Shchedrovsky, Deputy Director General at Rosatom, says is opening up a market for Russian companies.

"Currently Vietnam buys expensive energy in China. Building nuclear plants is an option to consider. Russian technological expertise is well-known and we are here to offer our skills. We are now planning to take part in a tender to build four power facilities here."

To support trade between Hanoi and Moscow a joint bank was set up. Aleksandr Titov, Chairman of the Vietnam-Russia Joint Venture Bank says demand for its services is growing.

"We have increased our client-base two-fold. We are going to open a new subsidiary in Russia next year."

Having lost its strong position in Vietnam since Soviet times, Russia now seems eager to re-establish itself as a reliable partner with plenty to offer. Exhibitors in Hanoi include producers of pharmaceuticals, trucks, state-of-the-art aeroplanes, banking and education.

All part of the new Russian drive to return to the Vietnamese market as Russia seeks to move away from commodity exports.