European Parliament delegation visits Vietnam

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong had a bilateral meeting in Hanoi on January 7 with Vice President of the European Parliament (EP) Heidi Hautala who is leading an EP working delegation to Vietnam from January 7-9.


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An overview of working session between Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong and Vice President of the European Parliament Heidi Hautala (Source: nongnghiep.vn)


At the event, Minister Cuong spoke highly of the cooperation developments between Vietnam and the EU, particularly in terms of investment.

In the field of sustainable development, the EU is considered Vietnam’s top development partner with the two main pillars of maritime economy and forest development.

The EU issued a “yellow card” warning for Vietnam in 2017 for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing; along with nine recommendations to help the country develop more sustainable fisheries.

Cuong said that after the EU made the nine recommendations, Vietnam was quick to complete its national institutions and laws, including the new Law on Fisheries, which has put the nine recommendations into a solid legal framework.

Vietnam has also paid attention to forestry development. Currently, the country has 14 million hectares of forests, with forest coverage reaching 41.65 percent – a high rate both regionally and globally.

The country is building up its forestry economy with the participation of some 4,500 relevant enterprises. Last year, the sector enjoyed an export turnover of over 9 billion USD, he stated.

However, Cuong noted that the sector is still facing several weaknesses, including low productivity, small number of enterprises participating in the forestry chain, and the relatively small area of forests that have received Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) management certificates.

The signing of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (VPA/FLEGT) between Vietnam and the EU offers a chance for the Southeast Asian nation to restructure the sector towards a transparent production chain, from materials to processing and trading, Cuong stressed.

Heidi Hautala said that EU consumers are paying greater attention to the origin of products. Therefore, the responsibility and role of the private enterprises are becoming more and more important.

The VPA/FLEGT with Vietnam is the second agreement the EU has signed in Asia, following a pact with Indonesia, she stated, adding that this is an important step by the EU towards building a broader strategy to intensify biodiversity and sustainable development in Asia, as well as fighting illegal timber exploitation and trading.

She said that the agreement will encourage transparency and have pervasive effects on the production chain with the EU and nations around the world as the EU has signed similar agreements with 16 other countries.

The EU is working to soon ratify the agreement with Vietnam, she added. 

Prime Minister welcomes European Parliament Vice President

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Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (R) and EP Vice President Heidi Hautala 


Vietnam has always considered cooperation between its National Assembly and the European Parliament (EP) an important pillar of bilateral relations, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc affirmed while receiving EP Vice President Heidi Hautala in Hanoi on January 7.

PM Phuc said that the European Union is Vietnam’s leading partner and that the bilateral relations are developing well, reflected through the maintenance of high-level meetings, helping boost mutual understanding and trust.

He expressed his belief that this visit to Vietnam by the EP Vice President will contribute to strengthening the relations between Vietnam and the EU in general and the two legislatures in particular.

Heidi Hautala informed her host that during the visit, the EP working delegation will hold working sessions with Vietnam’s relevant offices and survey the enforcement of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (VPA/FLEGT).

Regarding the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), she affirmed that the EP will continue listening to Vietnam’s proposals to speed up the ratification of the agreement.

This is a next-generation FTA, she stated, suggesting both sides ensure firm and effective enforcement to achieve sustainable trade development.

The EU is willing to support Vietnam during the process, she added.

Appreciating the sentiments of his guest, Phuc said that Vietnam-EU relations hold much development potential and opportunities and as such, the two sides should carry out specific measures, including stepping up all-level delegation exchanges; and increasing the efficiency of cooperative channels on politics, diplomacy, economics, and development cooperation.

He voiced his hope to receive support from the EP and its Vice President to help speed up the ratification of the EVFTA, affirming that the early enforcement of the agreement will create a new driving force and boost collaboration between the two sides, especially in economics.

Regarding illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, the PM said that after receiving a “yellow card” warning from the European Commission, the entire political system of Vietnam has joined hands to take drastic measures to fight IUU fishing. He asked for the EP Vice President’s help in pushing the EC’s removal of the yellow card.

Regarding the VPA/FLEGT, Phuc said that the two sides officially signed the agreement during his working visit to the EU last October.

Vietnam’s policy is to develop the forestry sector sustainably, with the focus on developing timber processing for export and using materials legally.

He informed his guest that he had assigned the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to work with relevant offices to speed up the completion of documents to be submitted towards the ratification of the agreement in the first quarter of 2019.

Vietnam hopes to receive support from the EP and its Vice President towards an early ratification of the agreement so that it can serve as a legal foundation to ensure Vietnam’s wood and timber products exported to the EU have official origin certificates, thus bringing about greater benefits for both sides. 

NA Chairwoman meets with EP Vice President in Hanoi


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Vietnamese National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan (R) meets with Vice President of the European Parliament Heidi Hautala in Hanoi 


National Assembly (NA) Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan hosted a reception in Hanoi on January 7 for Vice President of the European Parliament (EP) Heidi Hautala.

The Vietnamese top legislator thanked Hautala for her positive contributions to promoting the Vietnam-European Union (EU) relationship, as well as the partnership between the Vietnamese NA and the EP.

She noted that the relationship between Vietnam and the EU has been growing in all fields, especially trade and investment.

The EU is now the fourth largest trade partner and the second biggest export market of Vietnam, as well as the fifth largest investor in the Southeast Asian country, Ngan said.

The NA leader briefed her guest on Vietnam’s socio-economic performances in 2018, including GDP growth of 7.08 percent. The Vietnamese NA ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) last year, creating an important foundation for Vietnam to continue its intensive international integration and a new momentum for national development, she stressed.

For her part, Hautala said that during her visit, she had worked with leaders of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and other relevant agencies on the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (VPA/FLEGT) between the EU and Vietnam. 

The two sides agreed on specific contents to be conducted in the coming time, she said, adding that the EP is working to ensure the prompt realisation of the deal.

Stressing that Vietnam is an important import-export partner of the EU, Hautala said that the EU has paid great attention to sustainability and product origin, which is included in the VPA/FLEGT.

The EP Vice President noted that in 2018, the NA of Vietnam actively coordinated with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to hold activities related to the UN sustainable development goals and the role of the parliament in reaching the goals through the application of a self-evaluation tool.

Together with bilateral cooperation mechanisms, the EP wants to set up collaboration mechanisms with other ASEAN countries’ parliaments, said Hautala. 

Ngan showed her support for the idea, pledging that Vietnam is willing to assist in the formation of such mechanisms.

The Vietnamese NA leader expressed her hope that the EP will soon ratify the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), vowing that Vietnam is willing to listen to the opinions of European economic policymakers and enterprises for the effective implementation of the deal, which, she said will create close connections between the EU and the regions of Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific.

The Vietnamese NA is working to complete the legal corridor to improve the investment and business environment, thus ensuring the stable, long-term, and effective operation of foreign investors, including those from Europe, she said.

The NA will work with the Government to institutionalise the regulations of the EVFTA, asking the latter to submit its final report for the consideration of the agreement’s approval, Ngan said.

The top legislator affirmed that as a responsible and active member of many multilateral cooperation forums and many new generation free trade agreements, Vietnam will strictly implement its commitments in line with regulations stipulated in these mechanisms.

In order to institutionalize and effectively carry out the VPA/FLEGT, which Vietnam signed in October 2018, Vietnam will soon build a decree to control the import of wood, as well as regulations related to Vietnam's timber legality assurance system (VNTLAS) she said.

The Vietnamese NA leader expressed her hope that Vietnam and the EU will soon approve the VPA/FLEGT to facilitate wood and wooden furniture trading between the two sides and contribute to hastening the approval of the EVFTA.

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