PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc (R) and Minister-President of the Government of Flanders Geert Bourgeois (Photo: VNA)

Brussels (VNA) – A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Vietnamese Government and the administration of Belgium’s Flemish region on October 17 as part of PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visit to the European country, confirming the increasingly extensive cooperation between the two sides.

In an interview granted to Vietnam News Agency’s correspondent in Brussels, Minister-President of the Government of Flanders Geert Bourgeois said that the MoU signing came after the first deal inked in 2013, underlining the long-term partnership between Vietnam and Belgium in general and the Flemish Region in particular.

Praising Vietnam’s economic development in the past 30 years, with an impressive GDP growth of 6-7 percent per year, he said that Vietnam should continue updating its international frameworks to attract more foreign investors, which will help Vietnamese firms better integrate into the global value chain.

The Belgian Government will continue to support the early ratification of the EU-Vietnam free trade agreement (EVFTA) which promotes free and fair trade towards sustainable growth among its members, he stressed, expressing his belief that the EVFTA and the freshly-inked MoU are expected to help the Flemish region to double its exports to Vietnam to 1 billion EUR (about 1.16 billion USD) over the next three years.

Vietnam is currently the fourth largest export market of Flanders in Southeast Asia. Around 70-80 percent of Belgian shipments to Vietnam come from the region. Last year, Flanders shipped 492 million EUR (nearly 570 million USD) worth of products to Vietnam, up 22.23 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s exports to the region surged some 20.86 percent and the figure is expected to rise even further in the future.

In recent times, Vietnamese localities and the Flemish region have enjoyed fruitful cooperation, especially relating to transportation and the environment. Flanders invested 4.4 million EUR (around 5.1 million USD) in joint research programmes of the Research Founderation: Flanders (FWO), and Vietnam’s National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED), he added. –VNA