Vietnam, EU basically end negotiations on bilateral FTA hinh anh 1The press conference took place in Hanoi on August 4 (Photo: VNA)

Vietnam and the European Union (EU) have basically concluded negotiations on the bilateral free trade agreement (EVFTA), announced Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang at a press conference in Hanoi on August 4.

Hoang said he and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom had a phone talks on August 4 during which they agreed on the basic conclusion of negotiations on the EVFTA, which is one of the agreements with the highest quality between the two sides and expected to greatly benefit their peoples and businesses.

The minister said in October 2010, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso agreed to commence talks on the deal after completing technical works. The two sides announced the official beginning of negotiations on June 26, 2012.

After almost three years with 14 official rounds of talks and many mid-term negotiations between ministers, heads of delegations and technical groups, Vietnam and the EU have reached agreement on all basic contents of the EVFTA, he noted.

The EVFTA is a comprehensive and high quality agreement that ensures the balance of interests for both Vietnam and the EU. The pact covers the trade in goods, rules of origin, customs and trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, trade in services, investment, trade remedies, competition, State-owned enterprises, Government procurement, intellectual property, sustainable development, cooperation and capacity building.

Minister Hoang said the EVFTA negotiations were commenced and concluded amidst the flourishing relations between Vietnam and the EU, especially in economics and trade.

During the FTA talks, the two sides agreed on frameworks of cooperation and capacity improving programmes in fields of mutual interest, he noted, adding that these frameworks will help Vietnam continue building the legal system, supporting the implementation of commitments in the FTA and raising the competitiveness of its small- and medium-sized businesses, ultimately augmenting bilateral trade and investment activities.

The official also said the FTA signing with a developed partner like the EU will open up a wide range of opportunities for Vietnam to access cutting-edge technologies, improve management skills and create more jobs, thus helping ensure social welfares.

To early realise these interests, both sides agreed to accelerate the summarisation of technical content in order to complete the EVFTA this year and sign and approve it as soon as possible, he added.

At the press conference, Head of the EU Delegation to Vietnam Ambassador Franz Jessen said the agreement is a new model for the bloc’s negotiations on FTAs with developing countries. It is also a milestone in fostering trade between the EU and ASEAN nations.

The EU is currently the second biggest trade partner and one of the two largest export markets of Vietnam.

In 2014, two-way trade exceeded 36.8 billion USD, a year-on-year increase of 9 percent. It included nearly 28 billion USD worth of Vietnamese exports which are mainly footwear, apparel, coffee, wood products and aquatic products.

Twenty-three of the 28 EU member nations invested in Vietnam by the end of 2014 with over 2,000 valid projects worth more than 37 billion USD. EU investments are present in almost all important economic sectors of Vietnam, especially industry, construction and some services.-VNA