Vietnam and the European Union (EU) have re-emphasised the importance of a proposed bilateral free trade agreement and resolved to continue negotiations so as to reach a positive outcome.

The fourth round of discussions over the terms of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) took place in the Belgian capital Brussels from July 1-5.

The Vietnamese delegation at the negotiating table was led by Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh, while the EU representatives were headed by Mauro Petriccone, Director for Asia and Latin America at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Trade.

Both sides declared themselves pleased with the progress made during the talks, which focused upon trade in goods and services, investment, customs cooperation, technical barriers to trade (TBT), sustainable development and legal issues.

The latest round of EVFTA talks was described as frank, open and constructive.

The two chief negotiators said that both Vietnam and the EU now have a strong foundation from which to accelerate negotiations, particularly in such major areas as goods and services distribution, investment, intellectual property rights and government procurement.

They added that both sides are aware of the realistic capacity of the other, and are factoring these considerations into their negotiations.

The next round of negotiations is scheduled to be held in Hanoi next November.

Once the FTA is eventually signed, it will benefit Vietnam by fostering trade activities and offering more secured investment for enterprises.

The EU is now Vietnam’s second largest trade partner and largest importer.

Last year, two-way trade between Vietnam and the bloc reached 29.1 billion USD. Of that figure, Vietnam ’s export turnover to the EU market made up 20.3 billion USD.

As of January 2013, the EU had 1.810 projects in Vietnam with a total registered capital of 34.28 billion USD.-VNA