PM’s Europe tour aims to further ties with partners

PM Nguyen Tan Dung's visit to Europe is to further ties with European partners.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is paying visits to Belgium, the European Union, Germany and the Vatican from October 12-18, aiming to discuss ways to further beef up the cooperation between Vietnam and the European partners.

He will also attend the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting in Italy from October 16-17, which is themed “Responsible Partnership for Growth and Security.”

During his official visit to Belgium at the invitation of Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, the two sides will seek measures to foster bilateral partnership in various fields, including seaport, logistics, green growth, high technology, and development cooperation.

Since Vietnam and Belgium set up their diplomatic relations on March 22, 1973, the two sides have enjoyed growing ties and closer coordination at multilateral forums, especially the United Nations and the framework of ASEM and the ASEAN-EU cooperation.

Bilateral trade increased rapidly, reaching 1.2 billion USD in 2010 from 395.4 million USD in 2000. The figure hit 1.8 billion USD last year, up 17 percent year on year, and 1.3 billion USD in the first seven months of this year.

Belgium is now the sixth largest export market of Vietnam among European Union (EU) members, consuming mainly footwear, apparels, seafood, coffee, handbags, plastics and rubber. Meanwhile, Vietnam imports from Belgium machines and spare parts, steel, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

By August this year, Belgium has 15 projects totalling 155 million USD in Vietnam, ranking 35th among 96 countries and territories investing in Vietnam.

Vietnam is also the only Asian country to receive official development assistance from Belgium with about 78 million USD for the 2011-15 period.

Visiting the EU as guest of European Commission President Manuel Barroso, PM Nguyen Tan Dung is expected to discuss with the EU side specific future directions for the Vietnam-EU partnership and seek an early conclusion of negotiations for an EU-Vietnam free trade agreement (EVFTA) and stronger coordination at multilateral forums.

Vietnam and the 28-member EU established diplomatic relations in 1990. The two sides signed a framework Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and is working hard for the EVFTA.

Vietnam has set up strategic partnership with six EU members, namely the UK, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, France and Italy.

Trade is a key pillar in the two sides’ relationship, with the union being the second largest trade partner and top export market of Vietnam .

From 1990-2013, two-way trade increased over 100 times from 295 million USD to 33.7 billion USD. In this year’s January-July period, the figure hit 20.5 billion USD, a 7.33 percent rise over the same period a year earlier.

Vietnam enjoyed an average sum of 3-5 billion USD in trade surplus with the EU over the past decade, equivalent to 50 percent of its exports.

By the end of August this year, 23 out of the EU’s 28 members invested in Vietnam with 1,503 projects totalling 18.55 billion USD. The EU and its members are the second ODA and leading non-refundable aid providers for Vietnam. The union has also committed a 400 million EUR for Vietnam in the 2014-20 period, up 30 percent against the 2007-13 period.

PM Nguyen Tan Dung’s official visit to Germany looks to realise the Vietnam-Germany strategic plan of action as well as fostering bilateral affiliation in labour, vocational training, education and other joint projects.

The two sides will discuss preparations for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam-Germany diplomatic ties in 2015.

Starting their diplomatic ties on September 23, 1975, Vietnam and Germany upgraded their relations to strategic partnership in October 2011 during Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit.

Bilateral trade has grown 10 percent averagely recently, reaching 7.7 billion USD last year, a rise of 18 percent year on year, and 4.9 billion USD in the first eight months of this year.

By August 2014, Vietnam hosted 232 valid Germany-invested projects with a total investment of 1.25 billion USD, mostly in manufacture, energy, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

The country also pledged 100 million USD in ODA for Vietnam in the 2014-15 period, focusing on areas of the environment, energy and vocational training.

In his Vatican visit, which targets a stronger relationship, PM Nguyen Tan Dung is to propose Pope Francis to continue guiding followers of the Vietnam Catholic Church to act as good Catholics and good citizens.

At the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Milan, Italy, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is invited to deliver an introductory keynote speech at the plenary session on global issues and to attend a dialogue with Asian and European businesses in the framework of the 14th Asia-Europe Business Forum.

Vietnam is expected to propose several initiatives to the Asia-Europe cooperation, focusing on the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, vocational training and human resources development, water resource management, natural disaster response, and fostering the Mekong-Danube cooperation.

Over 18 times of participating in ASEM, Vietnam has always been a proactive, active, and responsible member of the forum. The country successfully held the fifth ASEM in 2004 and five ministerial meetings in economics, science-technology, foreign affairs, education, and labour.

Notably, Vietnam’s initiatives at the ninth ASEM in Laos in 2012 on water resources management and green growth as well as climate change response were highly applauded by other members and became a regular activity of the forum.

According to Ambassador-Head of the EU Delegation to Vietnam Franz Jessen, Vietnam has played an active role in ASEM. As the coordinator of the ASEAN-EU relations, Vietnam has worked to integrate ASEAN’s interests in ASEM, he noted.-VNA

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