Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on May 17 met with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who affirmed that Vietnam is a strategic partner of his country in Southeast Asia .

At the meeting in Minsk, the capital city of Belarus, the two sides expressed their delight at the incessantly consolidated and developed relationship between Vietnam and Belarus, which is reflected through regular visits of the two countries’ high-ranking leaders.

They focused on discussing cooperation directions in the time to come to further strengthen the Vietnam-Belarus traditional friendship and increase the effectiveness of bilateral cooperation, especially in economics, trade and investment.

The two leaders also exchanged views on measures to raise two-way trade and investment between the two countries, and agreed to speed up negotiations for the establishment of a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia .

To support the two sides’ businesses, the Government of Belarus will create preferential policies in credit and import-export insurance and consider lifting some administrative and taxation barriers. In the field of education, the country agreed to increase scholarships for Vietnamese students.

In terms of cooperation in the international arena, the two sides have been coordinating well within the framework of the United Nations, Non-aligned Movement and other international organisations and forums.

Prime Minister Dung expressed his gratitude for Belarus’ support for Vietnam’s bid to stand for election to the UN Human Rights Council in the 2014-16 tenure, and as well as its support for the Vietnamese community in Belarus.

President Lukashenko affirmed that Belarus will continue creating favourable conditions for overseas Vietnamese to help them promote their role as a bridge of friendship between Vietnam and Belarus .

Earlier, PM Dung and his Belarusian counterpart Mikhail Myasnikovich visited the Minsk Tractor Works (MTZ) Plant, the largest of its kind in Belarus .

In the afternoon, Dung and his entourage left Minsk, successfully concluding his visit to Belarus .

Earlier, within the framework of the Prime Minister’s visit, Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vu Tien Loc had a working session with First Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vyacheslav G. Reut to exchange views on possibilities and measures to boost cooperation between the two business communities.

The two sides affirmed that the signing of the free trade agreement between Vietnam and the Customs Union will open up cooperation opportunities for both countries’ businesses.

The two chambers will approve a joint action programme to help businesses prepare all necessary conditions for the implementation of a free trade area right after the agreement is signed.

Both sides agreed that in the time to come, Vietnam can export rice, coffee, tea, vegetables, cashew nuts, seafood, footwear, garments, textiles and rubber to Belarus, while importing fertiliser, mining machinery, vehicle parts and chemicals from the country.

They said that a delegation of Belarusian businesses will visit Vietnam in September to meet and sign agreements and contracts with Vietnamese partners.-VNA