EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom. (Photo: AFP)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam’s 90 million consumers and increasing number of middle-class households nake it a potential market for agricultural, industrial and service products from the European Union (EU).

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom made the statement on February 1 while announcing the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) document.

Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang and European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom signed an announcement on the official conclusion of negotiations on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) in Brussels on December 2, 2015.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and President of the European Commission (EC) Jean-Claude Juncker witnessed the signing ceremony which is considered a special milestone in celebration of the 25 th anniversary of Vietnam-EU diplomatic ties.

In October 2010, the Prime Minister of Vietnam and the EC President agreed to commence talks on the EVFTA after completing all necessary technical procedures. The two sides announced the official launch of negotiations on June 26.

After nearly three years with 14 official rounds of talks and multiple mid-term negotiations at ministerial, head of delegation and working levels, Vietnam and the EU completed the negotiations for the trade pact.

Negotiations for the pact started and wound up in the context of growing relations between the two sides, especially in economics and trade. The EUVFTA is expected to bring enormous economic benefits for both Vietnam and the EU due to their highly supplementary and less directly competitive import-export structure.

The EU is the second largest trade partner and one of Vietnam’s biggest export markets. Two-way trade shot up to 36.8 billion USD in 2014 from 17.75 billion USD in 2010. In the first half of 2015, two-way trade stood at 19.4 billion USD, rising over 11 percent against the same period in 2014.

Vietnam’s key export items to the EU include footwear, textiles, coffee, wooden furniture and seafood, while EU exports to Vietnam are dominated by high tech products such as electrical machinery and equipment, aircraft, vehicles and pharmaceutical products.

The EU is one of the largest foreign investors in Vietnam. In the first six months of 2015, 23 out of the 28 EU countries landed investment in Vietnam with more than 2,100 projects worth 38.4 billion USD. Investors have increased their presence in Vietnam’s key economic sectors, mostly in industry, construction and services.-VNA