Vietnam and the European Union (EU) have vowed to conclude negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) by late 2014, possibly before next October, so as to issue an official statement at the 10th Asia – Europe Meeting slated for the same month in Milan, Italy.

Head of the EU’s negotiation delegation, Director in the European Commision’s Directorate General for Trade, Mauro Petriccione made the statement at a hearing on the EU- Vietnam Free Trade Agreement in Brussels, Belgium on November 12.

He informed delegates about detailed negotiations at the fifth round of negotiations in Hanoi on November 4-8, where there was consensus on creating a level playing field for the public and private sectors, intellectual property protection relating to copyright and author rights, the country of origin for a product, trade and sustainable development.

To this end, both sides were committed to facilitating leaders’ visits and tele-conferences to share ideas, so that technical problems will be settled as soon as possible.

Participants posed questions involving the negotiation process, taxation and the risks of an open market.
Petriccione expressed his optimism about the negotiation process, declaring that Vietnam is an important EU partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and also a potential importer and investment destination.

Vietnam is a key springboard for the EU to penetrate into ASEAN countries, he said while hailing Vietnam’s efforts in economic progression through the implementation of a slew of trade and investment regulations.

Counsellor at the Vietnamese Embassy in Belgium and Luxembourg Vu Ba Phu also hailed the progress of the talks.

The EU is in the process of negotiating FTAs with several ASEAN nations, with its talks with Singapore , Thailand and Malaysia coming to an end.

As an important political, economic and trade partner of the European bloc, Vietnam is also its fifth largest trade partner. The EU, in turn, remains Vietnam ’s largest importer and the second biggest trade partner.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and the EU is now in good shape. The first-half trade value leaped year-on-year. Vietnam’s exports to the EU jumped 25 percent while the EU’s shipments to the country climbed 20 percent during the period.

Once the FTA deal is struck, Vietnam and the EU are expected to reap more economic benefits. Thanks to waves of investment from the bloc, the Vietnamese economy is set to take off with vibrant industries and skilled workforce.-VNA