The negotiations and signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) are a foundation for enhancing bilateral trade ties, said a seminar in the central coastal city of Nha Trang on Sept. 23.

The seminar on the FTA between Vietnam and EFTA, “Negotiation possibilities and prospects for trade ties”, drew more than 40 delegates from Vietnam businesses, State management agencies and policymakers and representatives from Norwegian and Swiss embassies in Hanoi .

Vietnam – an emerging economy with a considerable improvement in infrastructure and political stability – has an annual average GDP growth of 7-8 percent.

Vietnam ’s consumption is predicted to post a 10 percent increase each year and to triple the current figure by 2025.

The trade relationship between Vietnam and the four EFTA members – Switzerland , Norway , Iceland and Liechtenstein – has recorded progress.

Vietnam is expected to export goods worth around 2.3 billion USD to Switzerland and import goods worth around 559 million USD from the country.

First Secretary of the Norwegian embassy in Vietnam Thea Ottmann said that EFTA countries have a total population of 13 million people but achieve a GDP of nearly 1 trillion USD per year and EFTA is the third-largest partner of the European Union.

EFTA has signed free trade agreements with 31 nations and territories in seafood, pharmaceuticals, machinery, service and other sectors, she said.

Vietnam is a potential partner of EFTA, said Thea Ottmann, noting that both sides have established a joint group to study the feasibility of setting up the FTA and the content of negotiations.

Vice President of the Vietnam Garment and Textiles Association Le Van Dao said that Vietnam ’s garment and textiles sector posted export revenues of 9.2 billion USD last year, contributing 15 percent of the country’s GDP and more than 17 percent of the nation’s total export revenues.

The signing of the FTA with EFTA would facilitate Vietnam ’s garment and textiles exports as EFTA connects with the EU, the major market of the sector, he said./.