The Vietnamese delegation (L) and the EU side at the meeting (Photo: VNA)

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh had a meeting in Brussels on September 17 with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malstrom to discuss major issues of Vietnam-EU trade, investment collaboration as well as bilateral relations.

The Deputy PM stated that Vietnam attaches great importance to strengthening ties with the EU and considers the union as a top important partner, while expressing delight at the growth of bilateral relations over the past years, especially in politics, trade, investment and development cooperation.

He said that negotiations and implementation of free trade agreements are among significant steps to realise proactively the country’s economic integration.

He thanked Malstrom for directing the EU negotiation team for a Vietnam-EU free trade agreement (EVFTA) to work hard so the deal could be basically concluded on August 4 this year.

The Deputy PM held that the EU’s approval of the Vietnam-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) as well as the signing of the EVFTA will motivate the acceleration of bilateral ties and benefit both sides’ business communities.

The Vietnamese Government wishes that the EU and member countries will deal with remaining issues of the EVFTA negotiation taking into consideration Vietnam’s legitimate interest as well as the development gaps between the two sides, thus giving flexible commitments to Vietnam, he said.

The EVFTA will help Vietnam’s economy to develop as the market-oriented one, while boosting the Vietnam-EU partnership as well, stated the Deputy PM.

He also proposed that the two sides speed up addressing existing technical items and finalising legal review for the early signing and realisation of the deal.

Vietnam will do its utmost to work with the EU for a comprehensive, high-quality, and balanced agreement, he declared.

Cecilia Malstrom asserted that Vietnam is a role model of integration for development in ASEAN and expressed her hope that both sides will continue their sound cooperation in trade, labour and human right in the coming time.

Regarding the EVFTA, she said this is a significant, comprehensive and ambitious deal that could accelerate the growth of bilateral partnership.

She said that the two sides will conclude negotiations on technical issues soon, including those on investment, thus the deal could be signed at the end of this year. The EU will also consider the recognition of Vietnam ’s market economy.

During the meeting, Deputy PM Ninh also lauded the EU’s positive voice on regional security issues, including the maintenance of peace, stability and maritime and aviation security in the East Sea.

Malstrom affirmed that the EU always supports the compliance of international law on East Sea issues, as well as talks to seek solutions for the sake of peace and development.

Currently, the EU is Vietnam’s second largest trade partner (behind China) and export market (behind the US), with two-way trade reaching about 19 billion USD in the first half of this year, a rise of 11 percent year on year.

The union is the leading investment partner of Vietnam with over 1,600 projects worth over 19 billion USD.

The EU is also Vietnam’s largest bilateral ODA provider, and the greatest non-refundable aid donor. In the 2014-20 period, the union has committed 400 million USD for Vietnam.-VNA