Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc shakes hands with Belgian President of the Chamber of Representatives Siegfried Bracke in their meeting in Brussels on October 17. (Photo: VNA)

Brussels (VNA) – Belgium’s lower house of parliament backs expanding cooperation with Vietnam at all levels, said President of the Chamber of Representatives Siegfried Bracke when meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Brussels on October 17.

At the meeting, both Phuc and Bracke expressed their delight at the development of the Vietnam – Belgium relations over the 45 years of their ties.

The Vietnamese Prime Minister thanked the Belgian Chamber of Representatives for its support in deepening the two countries’ relations, saying the partnership between the two parliaments has played a vital role in enhancing bilateral ties.

Bracke hailed Phuc’s visit as significant to fostering relations and lauded the Vietnamese community in Belgium and their contributions to the ties. He welcomed strengthened collaboration between the two nations in agriculture as it suits both countries’ needs.

Both sides agreed Vietnam and Belgium should work to fulfil their cooperation potential, especially in education, science-technology, maritime transport and clean energy.

Bracke also voiced his support for the early signing of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), saying it will benefit all parties as it creates an engine to bolster cooperation between Vietnam and EU countries in economics and trade.

The two sides also agreed that all concerned nations must work to maintain peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea and settle disputes via peaceful means in respect of international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is on the final leg of his visit to Belgium from October 16 – 18, being made at the invitation of his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel.

On the occasion of the visit, the two side issued a joint statement, stressing the importance of promoting trade and investment between Vietnam and Belgium and expressed their hope that the EVFTA will soon be signed and ratified.

They agreed to step up bilateral ties in diplomacy, economics, social affairs, trade, education and science and to maintain regular exchanges.

Belgium was among the first Western countries to set up diplomatic relations with Vietnam, following the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, in 1973.

Belgium is now Vietnam’s seventh largest trade partner in the EU, with two-way trade reaching 2.7 billion USD last year. As of August 2018, Belgium’s investment in the country was valued at 900 million USD. –VNA