Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (R) and UK Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Vietnam backs the proposal to negotiate a Vietnam- United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said while receiving UK Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward in Hanoi on October 26.

The two sides should continue technical discussions to define the framework and issues need to be negotiated, thereby creating favourable conditions for the later negotiation process, he said.

Highlighting the importance of Ward’s role in the Vietnam-UK strategic partnership, PM Phuc said he expected the British ambassador will help double the bilateral trade turnover during his tenure.

According to the government leader, bilateral trade exceeded 6 billion USD last year, up 11 percent from 2016. The UK has invested 3.71 billion USD in Vietnam, ranking 15th out of 129 countries and territories investing in the country.

PM Phuc said that in celebration of the 45th founding anniversary of diplomatic relations, Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh paid an official visit to the UK and he himself met with his British counterpart Theresa May on the sideline of the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in Belgium earlier this month.

The PM also voiced his hope that the UK will help Vietnam access capital from the Commonwealth Fund, particularly for improving the business climate, coping with climate change, and developing infrastructure projects. 

For his part, the UK ambassador said Vietnam’s improvements in the business climate have impressed British enterprises.

He pledged to make efforts throughout his tenure to boost bilateral trade as well as collaboration in other sectors such as education-training, culture, health, and defence.

Affirming his support for free trade, Ward said the UK backs the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and will help accelerate its early signing and ratification.

Regarding the East Sea issue, the diplomat affirmed that he supports the supremacy of law, as well as freedom, security and safety of navigation and overflight.-VNA