The launch of negotiations on a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the EFTA’s recognition of Vietnam as a market economy is an important step forward for bilateral ties in the future, especially in economics and trade.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi made the remark at a regular press conference in the capital city of Hanoi on July 5.

“This move creates a new framework that helps to expand and deepen the multi-faceted and mutually-beneficial relationship between Vietnam and the EFTA, as equal partners,” he said.

According to the spokesman, the EFTA’s recognition of market economy status for Vietnam once again represents the wide support the international community has for the country’s renewal, socialist-oriented market economy, and proactive international integration.

The EFTA includes Norway , Switzerland , Iceland and Liechtenstein .

Responding to the question on Vietnam ’s stance on settling disputes in the East Sea within the framework of the upcoming ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Cambodia , Nghi said that as a member of the ASEAN community, Vietnam will contribute to maintaining peace and stability in the region.

“Peace, stability, security and maritime safety in the East Sea are the common concerns of ASEAN countries as well as other nations across the region and elsewhere in the world,” he said.

ASEAN’s common stance is to settle disputes in the East Sea based on respecting international laws, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), he stressed.-VNA