The Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation in Vietnam, Sean Doyle, has expressed optimism about bilateral relations in 2011 after the great successes of 2010.

The EU diplomat informed a press briefing in Hanoi on January 11 that the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), initialled in October of 2010, would be officially signed this year.

Doyle said the PCA would develop the existing institutional framework and increase dialogue and cooperation between the EU and Vietnam. It envisages a new forward-looking and modern agenda, reflecting the needs and interests of both Vietnam and the EU, and will be a powerful catalyst to bring the partnership to its full potential.

Negotiations on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will be officially launched as soon as possible once preliminary technical preparations are completed.

In regard to Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Vietnam, the EU ambassador said the EU was interested in worldwide dissemination of Vietnam’s experiences in efficiently using the aid. He also made it clear that as Vietnam had moved into the group of middle income countries, the mechanism of ODA for Vietnam would be adjusted after 2013.

Laszlo Vizi, representative of the rotating presidency of EU ministers’ meetings (except foreign ministers) in the first six months of 2011, praised Vietnam for “successfully chairing a meeting of foreign ministers from the two continents” (ASEM) in 2009.

In 2010, EU remained Vietnam’s biggest grant donor, second largest importer and a partner with the largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) commitment.

Vietnam’s export revenues to the EU increased by 15.9 percent year on year to almost 10 billion EUR in 2010 while EU commitments of FDI in Vietnam rose by more than six times over 2009./.