Both Vietnam and the European Council (EC) are pleased with the rapid and positive development of bilateral relations in the three main pillars of economics-trade, politics and cooperation over the past years.

The remarks were made at the talks by President Truong Tan Sang and the EC President Herman Van Rompuy in Hanoi on October 31.

The European Union (EU) is now one of Vietnam’s leading trade partners and investors while the country is the EU’s fifth biggest trade partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Two-way trade turnover in 2011 exceeded 24 billion USD even in the context of global economic difficulty, reflecting a positive trend for the two sides’ relationship.

The signing of the Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and the first round of negotiation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) were specific and important steps to boost economic and political cooperation between Vietnam and EU member countries.

During the talks, the two sides agreed to continue speeding up delegation exchange, encouraging and creating more favourable conditions for Vietnamese and EU businesses to making long-time investment in each other’s markets, especially in the fields of industry, infrastructure, transport, energy, finance, health care, tourism and services.

The EU pledged to provide Vietnam with technical assistance, step up negotiations to complete the signing of the Free Trade Agreement as well as recognise Vietnam ’s market economic status as soon as possible.

Vietnam asked the EU to maintain the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for Vietnam in the 2013-2015 period, and prioritise the implementation of the Mutual Recognition Agreement.

It also thanked the EU and its member countries for providing Vietnam with official development assistance over many years. The two sides agreed to closely coordinate in implementing effectively ODA programmes in the time to come, which will focus on poverty reduction, sustainable development, environmental protection and climate change adaptation.

They reached a consensus on intensifying dialogue and cooperation at regional and international forums, especially those within the framework of the United Nations and the Asia-Europe Meeting.

Vietnam praised the EU’s contributions to the ASEAN Community establishment, and its commitment to helping ASEAN become a core part in East Asia .

With its role as a coordinator for the ASEAN-EU relation in the 2012-2015 period, Vietnam will try its best to promote the ASEAN-EU relation, Sang said.

The two sides also supported efforts to build Southeast Asia into a region of peace, stability, cooperation and friendship, stressing the need to ensure maritime security, safety and freedom in the East Sea.

On the occasion, the two sides signed an 150-million-EUR contract to finance climate change related investments funded by the European Investment Bank, and a statement on the signing of the EU Multilateral Trade Assistance Project.-VNA