An EU trade official affirmed that now is a good time for Vietnam and the EU to start negotiations on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

At a seminar entitled “Negotiating a Vietnamese-EU FTA: the opportunities and challenges for Vietnam?” in Hanoi on March 2, Jean-Jacques Bouflet, Counsellor and Head of the Economics and Trade Section of the EU Delegation to Vietnam, said that European investors and traders are interested in Vietnam because it is one of the most promising economies in Asia.

This is a good foundation for closer economic and trade relations between Vietnam and the EU in the future, he stressed, adding that the signing of the FTA will bring large economic-trade benefits to both parties.

According to a MUTRAP III study on the Vietnam-EU FTA’s impacts on the Vietnamese economy, Vietnam ’s exports to the EU are likely to grow by 4 percent per year, mainly commodities that are the country’s strengths such as garments, footwear and woodwork. The country’s imports are expected to see an annual rise of 3.1 percent due to its commitment to open up its domestic market.

The EU’s direct investment flow into Vietnam is forecast to increase thanks to higher commitment levels and improved quality of investments.

Other issues such as prices, salaries and jobs for workers will all enjoy positive impacts from the FTA.

Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, an expert from the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said that the Vietnam-EU FTA is the largest agreement and is expected to bring the most trade benefits to Vietnam in comparison with other FTAs that Vietnam is targeting at because if the agreement is reached, the country will have FTAs with 27 EU member countries.

“With this agreement, Vietnam will have a FTA with a whole region. This is a huge stride forward,” she stated.

According to Trang, the seminar provided a chance for businesses, associations and authorised agencies to discuss opportunities and challenges posed by the Vietnam-EU FTA, and give specific recommendations to the government on how to negotiate an agreement that will benefit both business communities and the economy.

The seminar was part of the Multilateral Trade Assistance Project III (MUTRAP III) funded by the EU./.