Vietnam is a country with promising long-term potential and this is something that businesses should not ignore, says International Enterprise (IE) Singapore chief executive officer Teo Eng Cheong.

He cited factors such as Vietnam's rapid urbanisation, a large domestic economy and abundant natural resources that will open up many opportunities for companies in the years to come.

Mr Teo made these points during a breakfast dialogue with visiting Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung last Saturday.

Also present was Singapore's Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck, as well as senior figures from Singapore companies covering a range of sectors such as real estate, hospitality, transport, finance and logistics.

In his remarks, the IE Singapore chief also highlighted Vietnam's consumer sector as a growing area, fuelled by an expanding urban population, better educational qualifications and rising disposable incomes.

This, he added, has created more room for foreign consumer brands in education, food and beverage, and health care.

Among the recent expansions by Singapore companies are NTUC FairPrice opening its first hypermarket in Ho Chi Minh City, the first of many planned for the Vietnam market.

Sembcorp Development, meanwhile, is operating four Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIPs), with progress underway to build a fifth in Quang Ngai province in central Vietnam.

Mr Dung, who was on a two-day visit to Singapore that ended last Saturday, said that Singapore companies were "important partners" in his country's ongoing economic development.

Singapore is the third-largest foreign investor in Vietnam, with cumulative registered capital of $33.5 billion across more than a thousand projects to date.

In the first three months of 2013, Singapore overtook Thailand and Japan as the top foreign investor. Singapore is Vietnam's sixth largest trading partner, with total trade reaching $15.8 billion in 2012, up from $14.9 billion the year before.

"With extensive experience in project integration and implementation, Singapore companies are important partners for Vietnam as we encourage investments in the private sector," said Mr Dung. "This partnership is integral as we take steps to position Vietnam as an attractive destination for investment."

Singapore and Vietnam are this year marking the 40th year since diplomatic relations were first established back in 1973.