Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang expressed strong expectation Wednesday for Japanese investment in infrastructure, supporting industries including component production, and hi-tech agriculture.

Quang, in an exclusive interview with Kyodo News, also invited Japanese small and medium-sized enterprises to actively participate in his country's development.

The president, who ranks second in the Vietnamese Communist Party hierarchy, said that Vietnam, in order to realize its goal of becoming a modern, industrialized country, "will prioritize speeding up industrialization and modernization in all fields, especially infrastructure, supporting industries and hi-tech agriculture, while restricting impacts of climate change -- especially salt penetration in the south of Vietnam and drought in its central region."

In addition to those fields, he cited the need to further develop the tourism and service industries.

"This is also our direction in attracting foreign investments, and we expect Japanese investors to pay attention to these fields," he added.

In addition, Quang said, there are many areas in Vietnam where development is not progressing, requiring the government's attention.

"Our country is thousands of kilometers long with many areas needing investments. We expect many investors, not only large investors, but also small investors with high technology, to expand investments in those areas."

Regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, which has stalled since the United States withdrew in late January, Quang expressed concern about "the rise of protectionism."

"Our consistent policy is to support free trade. We suppose that, when countries negotiate for multilateral agreements, if we have not been able to reach multilateral agreements yet, we can sign bilateral agreements to foster trade, investment and economic development between nations," he said.

The TPP was signed in February last year by Vietnam, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and the United States, which together account for some 40 percent of the global economy.

Regarding territorial disputes in the South China Sea, including between Vietnam and China, Quang suggested that the countries concerned should cooperate to stabilize the situation.

Recent events have adversely impacted freedom of navigation and aviation, he said, adding that Vietnam's policy "is to settle all arising disputes peacefully through dialogue, to prevent conflicts and assure peace and stability in the region and the world."

The interview was joined by Masaki Fukuyama, president of Kyodo News.