Belarus considers cooperation with Vietnam one of its prioritised foreign policies in Asia and wishes to elevate it to a strategic partnership, Belarusian Ambassador to Vietnam Valery Sadokho has affirmed.

The ambassador granted an interview to the Vietnam News Agency on the occasion of the Independence Day of Belarus (July 27) and the 70th anniversary of the country’s liberation from German fascists (July 3).

“We respect our friendship with Vietnam,” he emphasised, stating that Vietnam is his country’s key partner in Southeast Asia and that through the country Belarus will further its interests in this region.

Therefore, Belarus sees developing relations with Vietnam being of extreme importance and boosting trade with the country as one of its priorities in overseas commerce, he stressed.

Commenced in March 2013, negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and the Customs Union of Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan have experienced six rounds, according to the ambassador.

The Belarusian side affirmed its wish for the early conclusion of the negotiations towards the signing of the document by early 2015 since the establishment of a free trade zone will become an important impetus for the sides involved to increase bilateral trade.

Once inked, the agreement will also help consolidate the strategic partnerships among the parties, he added.

Regarding bilateral two-way trade, the diplomat said that it has increased seven times over the past decade, reaching 200 million USD in 2013. However, this figure remained modest compared to the two countries’ potential.

Accordingly, the two sides discussed new cooperation orientations, with the one relating to the formation of joint venture projects in the industrial sector, he said.

Belarus is interested in expanding its sales of fertilizers, lorries, auto tyres, tractors, engines, metal and hi-tech products and food in Vietnam and importing from the country seafood, rice, cashew nuts, coffee, tea, pepper, vegetables, rubber and other products.

Vietnamese and Belarusian organisations have signed a number of cooperation agreements in the fields of science-technology and energy, he said.

Bilateral cooperation in culture has developed fruitfully, with the Belarus Cultural Days slated for this November in Vietnam.

Regarding labour connection, the ambassador stated that an intergovernmental agreement on temporary employment of Vietnamese citizens in Belarus and Belarusian citizens in Vietnam entered into force in 2013.

Last year, 350 Vietnamese people went to work in Belarus and the figure in the first half of this year was 230, he said, adding that the demand for Vietnamese workers is on the rise.

He expressed his belief that the increasing cooperation in this field and the facilitation of labour migration will help reinforce mutual trust and respect between the two nations.-VNA