The impacts of the Vietnam-EU free trade agreement (FTA) on key sectors were discussed at a seminar in the central coastal city of Da Nang on January 16.

The event was co-organised by the Da Nang-based Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the European Trade Policy and Investment Support Project (EU-MUTRAP).

It attracted the participation of representatives from business associations, enterprises operating in various industries, including electronics, seafood, textiles, foot wear and timber, and enterprises with EU trade ties.

Participants at the seminar were introduced to the contents of the Vietnam-EU FTA, particularly the opportunities and challenges that Vietnamese enterprises will face after the agreement is signed.

They paid special attention to impacts that the FTA may pose on Vietnam ’s key exports to the EU, including the timber and textile sectors.

According to the General Statistics Office, the EU became Vietnam ’s top export market in 2012 with two-way trade reaching 20.3 billion USD, an increase of 22.5 percent from the previous year. This vast market accounted for 17.7 percent of Vietnam ’s total export revenue.

Furthermore, the signing of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) last June, and the visit of President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy to Vietnam in October last year, opened up a new period in Vietnam-EU cooperation.

The two sides conducted the first negotiation round on their FTA last October and are scheduled to implement another four rounds this year.

The signing of the FTA is expected to bring Vietnam such benefits as tariff exemption for at least 90 percent of Vietnam ’s exports, and increased investment flows. At the same time, there will be some challenges for Vietnam, including a zero percent import tax on most European goods, the opening up of the service market and more transparency in business and investment management.-VNA