The UK and Vietnam are enjoying expanded trade and investment relations after the signing of a strategic partnership agreement last year, Tim Brownbill, British Consul General in HCM City and Director of UK Trade&Investment, told the media on Oct. 18.

The agreement is a real boost for British businesses looking to invest in Vietnam , he said.

Bilateral trade between the two countries is expected to rise to 3 billion USD by the end of next year, Brownbill said.

The UK is a leading investor in the financial services sector, but British businesses are also interested in the infrastructure, retail, and education sectors, he said.

" Vietnam should apply the public-private partnership (PPP) model, particularly in infrastructure and drinking water supply projects. The UK stands ready to share its PPP experience with Vietnam ."

In the coming years, the UK will promote cooperation with Vietnam in the infrastructure sector under the PPP model in a sustainable manner for the benefit of both countries, Brownbill said.

"We will hold further ministerial level discussions soon to finalise the details of development co-operation over the next five years," he added.

He also noted that Vietnam seemed to be a "slow-burn market" with some problems in its investment environment including licence application and decision-making process. It needed to speed up transparency and fairness in the investment processes, he added.

The UK 's Deputy Ambassador in Vietnam , Kate Harrison, also highlighted the impact of the strategic agreement in boosting bilateral commercial ties.

She said the launch of direct flights from Hanoi and HCM City to London , for instance, will facilitate the development of trade, investment, tourism and culture between Vietnam and the UK .

Another important factor in bilateral cooperation is education, she said, pointing to the UK-Vietnam International University in Da Nang as a model that can be followed in the future. The UK has also agreed to increase cooperation in providing vocational training, she said.

She also noted the support provided by the UK's Department For International Development to the Anti-Corruption Initiative of the Vietnamese Government, saying it will nurture innovative ideas on improving transparency and accountability, thus reducing corruption in Vietnam./.