Consul General of Italy in Ho Chi Minh City Enrico Padula realized that when Vietnamese people think about his country, all they know is the 3 Fs: food, fashion, and football.
“Italian culture is surely more than that,” the diplomat said during an interview with Tuoi Tre News on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Italy.
So what is 'Italy' in your mind?
We are heading to a 'mixed' development. Culture, commerce, and sciences in Italy are indispensable. Because all are linked through time, that’s how our fashion segment has developed so successfully.
And now, we have technology to join in the aggregate. For example, a car will have the mix of Italian technology and the Italian esthetics that we already have in our architecture and interior design.
We are trying our best to introduce and promote the aggregate all together. I think this is one of the best ways to develop. I am sure that Vietnamese people highly appreciate this too.
Speaking of culture, my opinion is that the aspect of heritage preservation is very important. In Italy, we preserve our old towns, and we are helping the Vietnamese do so.
As you can see, near Da Nang, Vietnam we have Champa Kingdom’s remains. It shows Vietnam has a diversity of heritage sites and the country has an in-depth history. For that reason, heritage preservation here is crucial.
Italian food is well known to the Vietnamese, but is Vietnamese food popular in Italy?
About Vietnamese food in Italy, recently there was a Vietnamese female chef who won second place at the Italian Masterchef competition. Given that the cuisine there is quite complicated, this is evidence of how well the Italians love Vietnamese dishes.
Every Italian tourist who comes to Vietnam loves Vietnamese food. And for me, I think that Vietnamese cuisine is healthy and has flavors that we cannot find in Italy.
For example, you have a lot of vegetables in your cuisine. Some Vietnamese have complained to me that it is hard to find greens in Italian dishes.
Italians do not really get along with the fast-food culture, in which you eat and then run. We have perspectives on slow-paced food, where you sit to eat and speak to the others. And we share the same view on this.
I have tried Italian food cooked by Vietnamese chefs, and I have to say that it is as good as food cooked by Italians.
The year 2022 recorded the highest score of commercial trading between the two countries. While the investment segment has been quite lucrative, is it true that our economies are sharing the same and right view?
I believe that the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) would assist in increasing bilateral commerce even more, with Ho Chi Minh City placing as the main locality because it is Vietnam's economic locomotive. The southern area is home to two-thirds of all Italian firms. As a result, Ho Chi Minh City has Italy's most important economic contributions.
This is the reason why the Consulate General of Italy in Ho Chi Minh City was built 10 years ago. We think that the city will play an important role in bilateral commerce. From that, commercially and politically, Italy and Vietnam are walking side by side.
In terms of investment, I believe that Vietnam is no longer a country that specializes in low-wage labor manufacturing. That was the case in the past. Vietnam's economy currently has a more trained, tech-savvy, and crucial workforce than ever before.
Recently, there are high-tech enterprises from Italy that have invested in Vietnam to hire well-trained tech engineers.
Indeed, high-tech Italian firms have made investments in Vietnam to hire experienced engineers and technicians. As a result, I believe that high technology represents the future of our collaboration. High-tech Italian solutions may benefit various areas in Vietnam, particularly Ho Chi Minh City.
As far as I am aware, Ho Chi Minh City has collaborated with the city of Turin, the birthplace of the well-known Italian automobile manufacturer Fiat. Turin has effectively transitioned from a traditional and heavy industry-based city to a city of technology and services.
Furthermore, there is a possible new arena in which our two nations may collaborate: space industry. When it comes to the industry, Italy is in the top three in the EU and we are in cooperation with Vietnam's space centers.