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Hanoi (VNA) – The EU-Vietnam free trade agreement (EVFTA) will create a boost for trade and investment between the two sides, affirmed Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh at a seminar on opportunities brought by the agreement for businesses in Hanoi on May 31.

According to Khanh, two-way trade increased from 6.3 billion USD in 2003 to 41.2 billion USD in 2015, making the EU one of the leading trade partners of Vietnam .

Statistics from the ministry showed that Vietnam ’s exports to the EU in 2015 were valued at 31 billion USD, while its import value was over 10 billion USD.

EU enterprises are running 1,809 projects in Vietnam , with a total registered capital of 23.16 billion USD.

However, the deputy minister said that Vietnam has yet to fully tap its export potential to the EU.

Vietnam ’s export value to the EU accounts for only 0.75 percent of the bloc’s total import value.

Khanh asked Vietnamese businesses to directly approach the distribution system, study European consumers’ taste, and listen to their product feedback in order to improve product quality.

Mauro Petricione, Deputy Director General of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Trade, said that the EVFTA is an important step in the roadmap to intensify bilateral trade and investment.

Both Vietnam and the EU agreed to make efforts to complete the ratification to make the agreement effective in 2018.

At the event, a guidebook on the agreement was introduced to the public.-VNA