Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh and Chief Negotiator of the European Union (EU) Mauro Petriccione launched negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and the EU, in Hanoi on October 8.

The negotiations were also attended by 60 Vietnamese and EU experts.

Vietnam is the third ASEAN member to talk FTA with the EU.

At present, Vietnam is the EU’s fifth trade partner in ASEAN with the union is Vietnam ’s third trade partner.

The EU is the largest importer of Vietnam in the world, with an import turnover of 12.8 billion EUR in 2011. Its exports to Vietnam reached 5.2 billion USD (over 4 billion EUR) last year.

According to EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, the negotiation process is likely to take place in a long time. However, he said he hopes it will be completed before his working tenure finishes in October 2014.-VNA