EU, Vietnam kick-start FTA negotiations

June 29, 2012 | 15:00
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Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang and European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht officially began the process of negotiating a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Brussels on June 26.

Speaking before the negotiations, De Gucht described the meeting as a landmark in the European Union’s ties with Vietnam, as well as other ASEAN countries.

He said that he was glad to announce the start of negotiations as Vietnam is the third ASEAN member country seeking an FTA with the European Union (EU), following Singapore and Malaysia.

De Gucht confirmed the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) will bring considerable economic benefits to both sides.

Meanwhile, Minister Hoang reviewed milestones in the development of Vietnam-EU trade relations, saying that Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and President of the EC, Jose Manuel Barroso, had agreed in October 2010 to start FTA negotiations after the completion of precursor technical work.

Based on this agreement, the two sides then discussed the terms of reference for negotiating the EVFTA.

Hoang stressed that the EVFTA is a comprehensive FTA in line with the principles of the World Trade Organization (WTO), benefiting both sides. The agreement, he said, will cover many fields such as trade in goods and services, investment and many others of mutual interest.

During the negotiation and implementation of the agreement, the two parties will need to take into account their development gaps, Hoang said.

According to Minister Hoang, the EU is one of Vietnam’s most important trade partners, while Vietnam is a fast-growing economy attractive to EU investors. Therefore, the two economies can supplement each other effectively. For instance, the EU has a strong demand for leather shoes, textiles, garments, coffee, timber furniture, and seafood produced by Vietnam, while the latter requires machinery, pharmaceuticals, garment materials, steel and fertilizers from the EU.

Hoang said Vietnam will give top priority to ties with the EU, which complies with the country’s external policy.

Vietnam is determined to pursue the EVFTA, considering it an important part of the country’s trade policies.

Vietnam-EU trade ties have developed swiftly in recent years. In 2011, the EU was the fourth largest investor in Vietnam, accounting for more than 12 percent of the total foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Southeast Asian country.


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