Vietnam-EU FTA talks on track: Minister

Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang has said negotiations between Vietnam and the European Union (EU) over a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) are on right track.

Hoang was quoted by Vietnam News Agency as saying during his Europe trip this week that the two sides are close to concluding the FTA talks in accordance with an agreement signed by leaders of Vietnam and the European Commission during Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to Europe in October 2014.

Hoang said at his meeting with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström in Brussels on Tuesday the two sides affirmed the possibility of concluding their talks.

Vietnam and the EU have completed 13 official rounds of negotiations and interim sessions since the two sides announced to launch negotiations in June 2012.

Hoang said there are few differences remaining and that the ministry would work harder to help local enterprises benefit from the trade agreement.

The comprehensive FTA with the EU will cover trade in goods and services, investment, intellectual property rights, government procurement and other areas.

Hoang said it is important to inform the local business community of the content of the FTA and its benefits before it is signed to help them make the most of the deal and cope with challenges as well.  

Hoang confirmed the FTA will create many benefits, particularly in terms of trade and services for Vietnam and unlock the potential of cooperation with the nation’s second biggest trade partner. The FTA will enable Vietnam to increase exports to the EU as they are two complementary economies.

The EU looks to more opportunities from the Vietnamese market with a population of 90 million people and considers it a major gateway to enter the ASEAN market with 600 million consumers and total gross domestic product of US$2.5 trillion.

Vietnam needs European equipment, technology and materials for domestic production while the EU wants more imports from Vietnam, particularly farm produce and processed products. The EU welcomes Vietnamese investments in light industry, consulting and services, Hoang said.

Hoang is pinning high hopes that the FTA, once in place, will strengthen economic, commercial and investment ties between Vietnam and the EU.

Vietnam-EU FTA