Dow Jones Newswires | 25 Aug 2014
Vietnam, EU expect to finish trade pact in October
By Vu Trong Khanh And Nguyen Anh Thu
HANOI—Vietnam and the European Union are expected to complete negotiations on a free-trade agreement in October, officials said Monday, paving the way to further boost a trade relationship that reached $36 billion last year.
"Cooperation priorities will be given to the areas that Vietnam is in need of and the EU is strong at, such as information and communication technology, health care, environment, finance and climate change," Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung told reporters after a meeting with the European Commission Chairman José Manuel Barroso earlier in the day.
The EU is Vietnam’s largest export market and the second largest trading partner after China. The EU is also among the largest development assistance providers to Vietnam. The two sides started talks on the free-trade agreement in 2012.
"This free-trade agreement will offer important new business opportunities and promote growth in Vietnam and the European Union," Mr. Barroso said. "It will benefit our companies and our citizens."
Mr. Dung said Vietnam is committed to further opening its doors to investors from the EU and to facilitate their operations in Vietnam. Last year, investors from the EU were licensed to invest $880 million in the Southeast Asian country.
Mr. Barroso also announced Monday that the EU will provide EUR400 million worth of development assistance to Vietnam in the 2014-20 period, focusing on enhancing sustainable energy, governance and rules of laws.
"Governance, human rights and rules of laws are driving forces for development," Mr. Barroso said.
He also said the EU is concerned about the territorial tensions in the South China Sea and called on all parties to refrain from taking unilateral actions that may fuel the tensions.
"We do not take a position on individual territorial claims but we strongly encourage all parties to seek peaceful solutions in accordance to international laws, particularly the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea," he said.
Write to Vu Trong Khanh at email@example.com