A Protocol to the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (PCA) between Vietnam and the European Union and its member states was signed in Brussels on November 19.

The protocol was inked by Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium and head of the Vietnam delegation to the EU Pham Sanh Chau and Ambassador Stefano Sannion, head of the Italy Delegation to the EU. The document then will need to be approved/ratified by all signatories.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ambassador Chau reiterated that the EU is now a leading trade and economic partner and an important export market of Vietnam.

He said the two sides’ fine relations have grown over the past years, which is reflected in the great support the EU has given to Vietnam, as well as the visits by their high-ranking leaders, including the visits in August by President of the European Commission (EC) Jose Manuel Durao Barroso and EC Vice President and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s tour to the EU in October.

The PCA framework will contribute to further tightening the bilateral ties, affirmed the diplomat.

Talking to Vietnam News Agency’s correspondents in Belgium, Ambassador Sannion said the framework agreement is an important step to further strengthen and expand the bilateral relations in numerous fields.

It is also expected to help speed up negotiations on a Vietnam-EU free trade agreement, which is expected to be signed in 2015.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and the EU has increased continuously, hitting 26.6 billion EUR last year, of which 21.3 billion EUR were from Vietnam’s exports.

By the end of 2013, the EU had 1,402 valid projects in Vietnam, with a total registered capital of over 18 billion USD (14.4 billion EUR).

Vietnam and the EU signed their PCA in June 2012. The agreement will become effective after being ratified by EU member states.

It affirms the EU’s commitment to maintaining its partnership with Vietnam and expanding bilateral cooperation in trade, the environment, energy, science-technology, State management, culture, education, and corruption and crime prevention.

The agreement also allows the two sides to share common interests in the multilateral legal system and global management mechanism, thus enhancing their coordination in responding to regional and global challenges.-VNA