Trade Commissioner of the European Union (EU) Karel De Gucht and Vietnam’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Vu Huy Hoang signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covering topics related to future negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).

The MoU was signed during the ASEAN-EU Business Summit, which opened on Apr. 1 in Phnom Penh .

At the event, De Gucht called on delegates to step up a common FTA between ASEAN and EU. He said such an FTA will eliminate barriers to trade, services and investment between the two regions, while addressing issues relating to intellectual property.

Previously, the EU held separate FTA negotiations with Singapore and Malaysia, however, the group stills want to reach a common FTA with ASEAN as a whole.

The Trade commissioner also pledged to further promote trade ties between the EU and ASEAN despite the on-going global financial crisis.

ASEAN is currently the third largest trade partner of the EU with annual trade revenue of more than 233 billion USD.-VNA