Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam has always considered cooperation between its National Assembly and the European Parliament (EP) an important pillar of bilateral relations, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc affirmed while receiving EP Vice President Heidi Hautala in Hanoi on January 7.

PM Phuc said that the European Union is Vietnam’s leading partner and that the bilateral relations are developing well, reflected through the maintenance of high-level meetings, helping boost mutual understanding and trust.

He expressed his belief that this visit to Vietnam by the EP Vice President will contribute to strengthening the relations between Vietnam and the EU in general and the two legislatures in particular.

Heidi Hautala informed her host that during the visit, the EP working delegation will hold working sessions with Vietnam’s relevant offices and survey the enforcement of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (VPA/FLEGT).

Regarding the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), she affirmed that the EP will continue listening to Vietnam’s proposals to speed up the ratification of the agreement.

This is a next-generation FTA, she stated, suggesting both sides ensure firm and effective enforcement to achieve sustainable trade development.

The EU is willing to support Vietnam during the process, she added.

Appreciating the sentiments of his guest, Phuc said that Vietnam-EU relations hold much development potential and opportunities and as such, the two sides should carry out specific measures, including stepping up all-level delegation exchanges; and increasing the efficiency of cooperative channels on politics, diplomacy, economics, and development cooperation.

He voiced his hope to receive support from the EP and its Vice President to help speed up the ratification of the EVFTA, affirming that the early enforcement of the agreement will create a new driving force and boost collaboration between the two sides, especially in economics.

Regarding illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, the PM said that after receiving a “yellow card” warning from the European Commission, the entire political system of Vietnam has joined hands to take drastic measures to fight IUU fishing. He asked for the EP Vice President’s help in pushing the EC’s removal of the yellow card.

Regarding the VPA/FLEGT, Phuc said that the two sides officially signed the agreement during his working visit to the EU last October.

Vietnam’s policy is to develop the forestry sector sustainably, with the focus on developing timber processing for export and using materials legally.

He informed his guest that he had assigned the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to work with relevant offices to speed up the completion of documents to be submitted towards the ratification of the agreement in the first quarter of 2019.

Vietnam hopes to receive support from the EP and its Vice President towards an early ratification of the agreement so that it can serve as a legal foundation to ensure Vietnam’s wood and timber products exported to the EU have official origin certificates, thus bringing about greater benefits for both sides. –VNA