Progress has been made in the vital third round of negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

Discussions were held in the Belarusian capital Minsk and wrapped up on September 13 on a brighter note than previous talks in Moscow.

The Vietnamese delegation was led by Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang and the Eurasian Economic Commission led by Eurasian Trade Minister Andrei Slepnev.

During the five days of talks, ten working groups discussed a wide range of issues relating to commodity trade, product-specific rules of origin, trade services, customs management, trade and investment facilitation, intellectual property rights, legislation, institutions and trade safeguarding measures.

The negotiations reportedly took place in a constructive, frank and cooperative spirit, balancing the interests of all parties concerned.

All sides agreed on most of the content of the agreement, pertaining to competition, trade technical barriers, food safety standard, animal and plant quarantine, customs and sustainable development and significant progress was made, according to negotiators.

The remaining issues will be decided during the fourth round of negotiations.

It was agreed that negotiations between working groups should be sped up in order to finalise the content of the agreement before the end of 2013. Negotiators will focus on technical matters in 2014.

The next round is slated for December 9-14 in Vietnam.-VNA