The European Union (EU) is interested in cooperating with Vietnam as it is looking to help small and medium-sized enterprises extend their reaches in and outside the region.

European Commission Vice President and Commissioner responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani made the point while meeting with Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang in Hanoi on November 13.

Tajani said the EU, as the world’s largest import-export market and the top investment destination, plans to work on certain growth factors and create more jobs in the region.

Minister Hoang said with nearly 30 billion USD in bilateral trade last year, the EU is the largest market for Vietnamese goods and the second largest trade partner of Vietnam.

He said as both sides are working hard to conclude negotiations on a free trade agreement by late 2014 which once signed will lift Vietnam - EU economic ties to new heights with broader scope and better quality.

Both host and guest affirmed their intention to further strengthen bilateral trade and investment in the time ahead.

Between January-September this year, two-way trade between Vietnam and the EU jumped 20.8 percent year on year, topping 24.8 billion USD.

By late September, EU member nations invested in over 1,800 projects valued at nearly 33 billion USD in Vietnam.

The EC Vice President is leading a business delegation on a visit to Vietnam on November 12 and 13 as part of EU’s efforts to deepen economic relations with countries in the ASE AN region, including Vietnam.-VNA