The chief negotiators of Vietnam and the EU pledged to make every effort to promptly complete discussions about a free trade agreement (FTA) between them.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade and Chief of the Government negotiation delegation Tran Quoc Khanh and Director of the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission Mauro Petriccione stressed their determination to reach a deal soon during the opening session of the sixth round of talks for the Vietnam-EU FTA in Brussels on January 13.

The two heads asked experts to accelerate the negotiation pace to complete technical details in areas where not many differences exist.

In areas where there are more disagreements, the two sides will continue talking to narrow the gap and reach a compromise.

At the talks, which will last until January 17, the two chief negotiators will continue discussions on ways to speed up the negotiations, creating a foundation for the completion of the talks as expected.

Content which has been tabled includes trade in goods and services, investment, customs cooperation, rules of origine, sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS), technical barriers to trade (TBT), competition, sustainable development and legislation.

The EU is currently Vietnam’s second largest trade partner and the country’s biggest export market.

In the first eight months of 2013, two-way trade between Vietnam and the EU reached 18.5 billion USD, up 20.24 percent over the same period in 2012.

Of the figure, Vietnam’s export to and import from EU were 12.7 billion USD and 5.8 billion USD respectively. Pivotal Vietnamese exports to the EU include footwear, garments, coffee, wood products and seafood.

EU is also Vietnam’s largest investor with 1,800 valid direct investment projects worth nearly 40 billion USD in the country by the end of August 2013. EU investors are concentrating mainly in industry, construction and some service sub-branches.-VNA