INTERVIEW WITH MR. NÉSTOR SANTOS FRANCO – ECONOMIC & TRADE COUNSELLOR OF SPAIN FOR VIETNAMSeptember 14, 2021
1.Kindly tell us something about your work profile/business including yourself.
Since the beginning of my professional career, I have been advising companies in foreign trade and internationalization, in countries such as Brazil and Chile. I have also had the opportunity to attend trade negotiations and defend Spain’s position before the Commission from Madrid. After a couple of years off the radar, focusing on competition issues, I have the opportunity to face this challenge at the head of the Economic and Commercial Office of the Embassy of Spain, which I take with the greatest enthusiasm.
2. We are in a time of pandemic, as the new Economic and Commercial Counselor of the Embassy of Spain in Vietnam, how do you see the work of the Office in this scenario?
The office has been able to adapt to the new situation in record time. Although it was not previously prepared for teleworking, all the staff now has the tools to work from home in a safe environment.
We intend that the work the office has been doing will not only be maintained, but will be increased and improved as much as possible. Until now, are key lines of action have been: positioning Spain as an international business and investment platform; tailored care to importers, distributors, opinion leaders and public and private organizations on the Spanish offer of products and services available in the country; and institutional coordination and public-private collaboration to create synergies and enhance the internationalization of Spanish companies in Vietnam.
Over the next few years, and in part thanks to the digitalization that we have been forced to undergo, we intend to continue along these guidelines, but will gradually offer services of greater added value, which have never been offered before.
3. How do you think EVFTA will benefit EU and Vietnam companies after this pandemic? Are there any new strategies that you’re adapting for this new situation?
The opportunities offered by the agreement are independent of the health situation we are experiencing. They existed before and continue to exist. Trade opportunities in liberalized sectors, either partially or totally, such as machinery and equipment, chemical products, automotive components, ceramic products and agri-food products typical of Spanish gastronomy, continue to exist. Investment opportunities should also be kept in mind by Spanish companies. Opportunities exist in sectors such as the textile industry, electronics, the agri-food industry, and especially tourism, infrastructure, water and waste treatment and renewable energies. Spanish companies have know-how in these sectors that they should take advantage of.
In the specific context of the pandemic, Spain intends to strengthen the ties between the two countries in order to overcome this situation as soon as possible and emerge stronger from it.
At this point, it should be noted that Spain has one of the most important and innovative pharmaceutical industries in the world. Therefore, we hope that the arrival of our medicines will be easier for the good of Vietnamese society as a whole.
The recently signed agreement with the pharmaceutical company HIPRA to supply 50 million doses of HIPRA’s COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam in response to the pandemic is a prime example of this cooperation. With this cooperation agreement, Vietnam will be able to offer its population a solution against the COVID-19 pandemic and will be able to increase its vaccination rate, both of which are essential to return to normality as soon as possible.
4. What do you think are the biggest challenges in your industry in the future with EVFTA?
The agreement is a great opportunity for both the EU and Vietnam, which significantly improves the previous situation. However, for both parties to benefit mutually and for it to be a win-win relationship, an effective implementation of the agreement is required. Spain is fully committed to this objective, thus helping both Spanish companies and Vietnamese society as a whole, which will see an increase in their standard of living.
5. Please tell us a little about the future plans in Vietnam.
We want to establish a closer relationship with all the Spanish companies based in Vietnam, and with those companies that plan to do so in the future. To do so, we would like to listen to them one by one to find out how we can help them institutionally to improve their situation in the country.
To this end, one of our objectives is to be more active in our communication with them and to have a direct and continuous channel of communication.
Many thanks to Mr. Néstor for sharing his experience with us.