Vietnam and the UK have committed to fostering trade and investment cooperation, considering it as a top pillar in their strategic partnership.

The agreement was reached during talks between visiting Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh and UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague in London on April 16.
On the political front, they agreed to realise cooperation areas set under the annual Vietnam – UK action plan while facilitating regular visits by their leaders, ministry and local officials.

The UK welcomed Vietnam’s investment flows and exports to the country, and promised to assist it in restructuring its financial and banking system.

As the European Union member making the strongest commitment to regional free trade, the UK vowed to do its best to help quicken and conclude negotiations for the Vietnam – EU Free Trade Agreement this year and further help Vietnam intensify all-round ties with the bloc. It also backs the EU in recognising the country as a market economy soon.

Both sides expressed satisfaction that two-way trade went beyond its set target, topping 4 billion USD last year, and the UK’s investment inflows in Vietnam are coming closer to 3 billion USD.

Ninh thanked the UK government for commitment to provide official development assistance (ODA) to Vietnam until 2016, expressing hope this will continue after that date via multilateral channels. He said the assistance is being fully utilised for the sake of socio-economic development and international integration.

Vietnam, for its part, will offer all possible support to UK investors on the basis of equality and mutual benefits, he promised.

Regarding education links, they pledged to prioritise launching the international-standard Vietnam – UK University project in the central city of Da Nang, as well as strengthening existing ties between their educational establishments.

Both officials vowed to increase dialogue and mutual support at regional and international forums, especially the United Nations, the Asia – Europe Meeting and the ASEAN – EU framework.

In this spirit, the UK backed Vietnam’s increasing role in international organisations and forums. Hague praised the country’s efforts to materialise the ASEAN Community by 2015, and complimented ASEAN on its central role in the evolving regional architecture. He also looked forward to the early adoption of the Vietnam – EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).

As a coordinator of the ASEAN – EU relations for the 2012 – 2015 term, Vietnam will try to reinforce their ties and ASEAN – UK relations in particular, Ninh said.

Discussing regional and global issues, the UK expressed support to Vietnam’s stance on settling the East Sea dispute by peaceful means in line with international law. It voiced hope that Vietnam will support the upholding of the basic principles of international law in the settlement of disputes around the world.

When it came to democracy and human rights, the UK hoped that Vietnam will uphold its role as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council in ensuring human rights in Vietnam and the world over.

Both host and guest consented to holding more dialogues on issues where differences exist between them in a constructive spirit and with mutual respect.

Also on April 16, Ninh met with Minister without Portfolio Grant Shapps before holding working sessions with representatives of high-profile fund management groups.

In the evening, he met with members of the Vietnamese community in the country.-VNA