Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has affirmed that Vietnam wishes to boost two-way trade with the European Union (EU) and speed up negotiations on the free trade agreement (FTA) between the two sides.

Receiving EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht in Hanoi on March 7, Dung said he believes with mutual effort and political determination, the FTA negotiations will conclude later this year, therefore contributing to bolstering Vietnam–EU trade for shared and practical benefits.

Gucht, who is in Vietnam to attend related meetings within the framework of the 19th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting, said the EU wants to increase links with Vietnam and other ASEAN member nations.

He vowed that the EU will make every effort to promptly conclude bilateral FTA negotiations with Vietnam .

During his visit to the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Administration the same day, Gutcht said he and Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang launched the EU–Vietnam FTA negotiations in Brussels, Belgium on June 26, 2012. The two sides seek a comprehensive agreement on taxation, trade, and a non-tariff barrier, he added.

The first round of negotiations took place in Hanoi last October. The second round got underway in Brussels in January, 2013. The third round is scheduled to start on April 22, 2013, in Hanoi .

Gucht said the EU has devised a trade assistance programme to help Vietnam improve its infrastructure and education, and partly implement agreements reached by the two sides.

The EU’s development assistance to Vietnam is around 750 million EUR a year ago.-VNA