Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Le Hoang Quan hosted a reception on August 26 for Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, President of the European Commission (EC), who is on a Vietnam visit at an invitation of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Quan said he hopes that Barroso’s visit will help to further strengthen friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and the European Union.

The bilateral ties have grown strongly despite the global-scale economic crisis, he said adding that the promotion of negotiations on a Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) toward the early signing of the agreement will contribute to intensifying cooperation for both sides’ interests.

According to Quan, HCM City, the country’s largest economic hub, has received much attention from EU investors, focusing on economics, trade, science, education, health and tourism.

The city now has 233 representative offices of European groups and companies. EU investors are running 833 projects in the locality with a combined capital of over 8.9 billion USD.

Two-way trade between Ho Chi Minh and the EU has developed rapidly. In the first seven months of 2014, the city exported products worth more than 2.1 billion USD to the EU, while spending over 1.2 billion USD on importing goods from the union.

For his part, EC President Barroso expressed his pleasure to witness the city’s strong development and briefed the host of outcomes of his talks with Vietnamese leaders.

He said he had earlier the day met with representatives of European companies operating in Vietnam and almost of them affirmed they are satisfied and see the future for cooperation and development in Vietnam, including HCM City.

According to the EC official, the conclusion of the Vietnam-EU FTA in the coming time will be a basis for promoting trade between the two sides, benefiting both business community and people.

European firms highly value Vietnam’s human resources, he said, adding that EU is willing to increase cooperation in the field with the Southeast Asian nation.

As part of his visit to the city, Barroso toured several cultural and historic establishments.-VNA