Bumper Brit partnerships being boosted

April 20, 2022 | 11:00
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Vietnam and the United Kingdom are seeking new momentum to further raise investment and trade cooperation via a bilateral trade agreement already taking into force, and the UK’s hoped-for entry into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Bumper Brit partnerships being boosted
Education is just one of the sectors in which British groups are seeking opportunities in Vietnam

This year, the Vietnamese Embassy to the UK is planning to meet with many localities, companies, organisations, and authorised agencies in order to seek new prospects to further cement their ties, with a focus laid on trade and investment.

“Many British companies are looking for opportunities in Vietnam in finance and banking, agriculture, fintech, renewable energy, digital transformation, commerce, tourism, and education and training,” a representative from the embassy told VIR. “The potential for Vietnam to attract more investment from the UK is very big, and many British investors are planning to come to Vietnam.”

According to a report by the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s (MoIT) European-American Market Department, in order to further facilitate bilateral ties and more investments into their respective territories, both nations are looking to hold the 12th Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) in the UK in May.

JETCO is an important mechanism for boosting trade ties, in which there are in-depth discussions to remove difficulties facing enterprises of both sides and to define new cooperation sectors between the two countries. For example, Vietnam and the UK already boast oil and gas cooperation over the past decade, with many projects in Vietnam’s waters and in foreign nations.

One such venture, according to the report, is a project in Peru called Lot 39, with cooperation since 2012 between PetroVietnam, PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corporation (PVEP), and various Peruvian exploration and production groups.

Lot 39 houses an on-site reserve of 631 million oil barrels and a recoverable reserve of 123.4 million barrels. However, the exploitation of the venture is facing numerous difficulties in transportation, drilling, weather conditions, and geographical conditions deep in the Amazon forest, added the report. Currently, PetroVietnam and PVEP are actively working with one of the Peruvian groups, Perenco, on solving the capital issue of this project, and the issue is likely to be discussed at JETCO next month.

Securing trade

Recently, Vietnamese Ambassador to the United Kingdom Nguyen Hoang Long met with Vincent Keaveny, Lord Mayor of London, where both sides discussed solutions for boosting financial cooperation between London and Vietnam’s enterprises and organisations.

“Financial cooperation is always a focal sector in the economic relationship between the UK and Vietnam as many financial, banking, and insurance groups from the former have made their presence for a very long time in the latter,” Long said. “In addition, the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (UVFTA) is acting as a big driver of the trade and investment ties between both economies.”

Graham Stuart, British trade envoy for Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, over a week ago concluded his official visit to Vietnam where he worked with the government, the MoIT, and other authorised agencies on accelerating the implementation of commitments under the UVFTA. “Vietnam is immensely significant to the UK’s trade agenda, and to the UK’s growing focus on ASEAN and Asia-Pacific,” Stuart said.

He also said that the UK has secured an offshore wind project in Vietnam. Once completed, the wind farm could generate enough electricity for 1.6 million homes.

At the eighth UK-Vietnam Strategic Dialogue held in Hanoi three weeks ago, both nations reached a consensus that new mechanisms will be created to foster both nations’ bilateral ties in trade, investment, defence and security, climate change, and sustainable development.

“Both countries will continue to work to remove obstructions and take advantage of the UVFTA to make breakthroughs in trade and investment cooperation and expand ties in the digital economy, energy transformation, green finance, infrastructure development, and finance and banking,” said a statement from Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, in 2021 when the UVFTA took effect, the Vietnam-UK two-way trade turnover hit $6.61 billion, up 17.2 per cent on-year. This included the Southeast Asian nation’s export turnover of $5.77 billion, up 16.4 per cent on-year, and import turnover of $850 million, up 23.6 per cent as compared to the same period in 2020.

New relationships

According to the MoIT, Vietnam will work with the UK on boosting the latter’s negotiations to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) as soon as possible.

“At present, the MoIT is drafting a document covering opinions from relevant ministries and sectors before submitting to the prime minister a report on a master scheme on Vietnam’s negotiations on the UK’s accession to the CPTPP,” said the report from the European-American Market Department.

The UK on March 20 sent its offer to join the CPTPP to the deal’s member states, whose representatives will meet to discuss the offer before launching official negotiations with the UK. It is expected that the negotiations will conclude at the year’s end. According to the Department for International Trade (DIT), the UK last month moved into the second market access phase of negotiations to enter the free trade area, which is worth $11 trillion in GDP.

“Negotiations will now begin in which the UK will agree on new trading relationships with CPTPP countries, which could lead to 99.9 per cent of UK exports to its members being eligible for tariff-free trade,” the DIT said in a statement. “We will ensure that the terms are in line with the UK’s broader policies and will negotiate in the national interest.”

Benefits of UK accession could include new guarantees of access to service markets. Membership will also help ensure British businesses are in an even better position to expand their digital reach in the global marketplace.

By Thanh Dat

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