Head of the Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission Nguyen Van Binh (R) and Vice President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen (Source: VNA)

Brussels (VNA) – Head of the Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission Nguyen Van Binh has lauded the active development of Vietnam – European Union (EU) ties over the past years, especially in trade and investment.

During a recent working session with Vice President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen as part of his ongoing visit to Belgium and the EU from May 30-31, Binh hailed the EU as the second largest trade partner of Vietnam (behind China), the second largest export market (behind the US) with 18 percent of Vietnam’s shipments arriving in the bloc, and one of the five largest foreign investors in the country.

Last year, two-way trade neared 52 billion USD, 31.8 billion USD of which was Vietnam’s trade surplus.

Both sides shared the view that the ratification of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement has created an important legal framework to lift Vietnam – EU ties.

They wished that the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) would be signed soon. The EU would assist Vietnam in improving capacity to fully and effectively deliver on commitments mentioned in the deal.

Binh highlighted benefits that EVFTA will bring to Vietnam and EU member states, laying a foundation to connect EU with the Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific, especially in the context of rising protectionism.

While in Belgium, Binh also met Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo, former Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Foreign Minister and President of the Christian Democratic and Flemish Party parliamentarians’ group Steven Vanackere, and Minister of Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development Marie - Christine Marghem.

During working sessions with Belgian leaders, Binh expressed his delight at the active, diverse and practical development of Vietnam – Belgium ties, from the federal to regional level, adding that the visit is of significance on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties.

The two sides affirmed that economic-financial cooperation is a priority pillar in bilateral ties and vowed to continue effectively realising outcomes of the fourth session of the Joint Committee on Economic Affairs in November 2017 in Hanoi.

The Belgian side committed favourable conditions for Vietnamse goods to enter distribution channels, supermarkets and retail shop in the country, especially farm and aquatic products.

The host leaders pledged to continue supporting Vietnam – EU comprehensive partnership, including the early signing, ratification and full implementation of the EVFTA.

The Vietnamese side expressed readiness to help Belgium enhance cooperation with ASEAN and its member states.

Vietnam is striving to improve business climate, accelerate economic restructuring with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises, he said, adding that the country hopes Belgian government will encourage domestic firms to do business in fields of their strength and Vietnam’s priority such as maritime transportation, logistics services, green technology, agriculture, renewable energy, health care and equitisation of State-owned enterprises.

He suggested speeding up projects in urban development and climate change response in the central provinces of Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan and Ha Tinh using non-refundable aid provided by Belgian government, as well as completing the second stage of the project on water drainage and wastewater treatment in Cua Lo town, the central province of Nghe An.

During his stay, Binh also visited and held a working session with the Vietnamese embassy in Belgium.-VNA