Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is attending a signing ceremony for the Vietnam – Eurasian Economic Union free trade agreement in Kazakhstan and is travelling to Algeria, Portugal and Bulgaria for official visits from May 29 – June 6 at the invitation of his counterparts of respective countries.

The visits aim at promoting new cooperative mechanisms and encouraging more foreign companies to come to Vietnam for investment and business.

Vietnam and Kazakhstan established diplomatic ties on June 29, 1992, and have provided mutual support at the United Nations and other international forums as well as recognising each other as a market economy.

Vietnam predominantly exports phones and spare parts, seafood, vegetables, computers, electronics and accessories, cashew nuts, pepper and garments to Kazakhstan. In turn, Kazakhstan sells iron, steel and cotton to Vietnam, among others.

Prospects for cooperation on oil and gas were unlocked with the signing of several agreements between the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) and the Kazakhstan National Oil and Gas Company.

Furthermore, the two countries have established fruitful cultural, education and tourism ties. The two sides signed several framework agreements on economics, trade, labour and investment protection.

Negotiations on a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), of which Kazakhstan is a member, have completed after eight official rounds. The signing of the Vietnam–EEU free trade deal creates a legal framework and environment that fosters deeper bilateral economic ties.

Algeria and Vietnam formed diplomatic ties on October 28, 1962. Vietnam opened an embassy in Algiers a month later, while Algeria set up its embassy in Hanoi in April 1968.

Vietnam’s major currency earners in Algerian trade include coffee, rice, phones and spare parts. In the first quarter of this year, exports to Algeria rose by 1 percent compared to last year to 68.6 million USD, including 35.27 million USD from phones and spare parts, 18.24 million USD from coffee and 2.6 million USD from rice. Algeria is currently Vietnam’s third largest African importer.

In terms of investment, the PetroVietnam is conducting oil exploration and exploitation missions in Algeria and is expected to start commercial operations this June. Nearly 1,200 Vietnamese workers work for contractors from Japan and China in the African country.

The two countries have signed dozens of agreements and memoranda of understanding on economic, sci-tech, trade, maritime transport, health care and education cooperation.

Portugal and Vietnam established diplomatic relations on July 1, 1975 and have since maintained exchange of delegations at different levels.

Bilateral trade has seen stable growth over the years but remains at low level, from 90 million USD in 2008 to 364 million USD in 2014. There is yet any investment from Portugal in Vietnam and vice versa.

Bulgaria, meanwhile, was one of the first 10 countries to establish diplomatic ties with Vietnam (February 8, 1950).

In March 2001, Vietnam and Bulgaria signed a new Economic-Trade Agreement, granting each other most-favoured nation (MFN) status.

Vietnam’s main exports to Bulgaria are apparel, leather and footwear, coffee, pepper, tobacco, coal and seafood while imports include chemicals, pharmaceuticals, wine, machinery, shipbuilding equipment, wheat and animal feed.

Bulgaria currently ranks 59th out of 101 countries and territories investing in Vietnam, mainly in the fields of processing and manufacturing, information and communication technology, science-technology, and services.

Before the 1990s, Bulgaria trained more than 3,600 Vietnamese scientists and experts and nearly 30,000 skilled workers based on its strengths in construction, architecture, information and bio-chemical technology, agriculture and tourism.

On a visit to Bulgaria in September 2012, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan witnessed the signing of a cooperation programme for the 2012-2016 period, under which the two countries will provide annual scholarships to three students pursuing undergraduate, postgraduate and doctorate degrees.

More than 1,000 Vietnamese nationals currently live in Bulgaria, with more than half also holding Bulgarian citizenship.-VNA