Vietnam ’s access to the European Union market will become easier as 90 percent of tax lines decrease to zero percent after the two sides reach their free trade agreement.

Head of the EU delegation to Vietnam Ambassador Franz Jessen made the remarks at a press briefing in Hanoi on June 29, officially announcing the recent singing of the Vietnam-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and the start of negotiations for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

He said the Vietnamese consumers will access EU goods at reasonable prices and Vietnam ’s products registered for protection with their geographic indicators will gain advantage in international trading.

He also said that increase in foreign direct investment to Vietnam will create more jobs thanks to policies on investors’ protection.

The diplomat pointed out FTA-related challenges for Vietnam , including the fact that high-quality imported goods at reasonable prices will pressurize domestic producers to upgrade production methods to improve quality.

The EU is Vietnam ’s large importer, Ambassador Jessen said, adding that despite differing characteristics, the two markets supplement each other well.

Vietnam ’s Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang and the EU’s Trade Commissioner Karel De Gutch officially launched negotiations for the two sides’ FTA in Brussels , Belgium , on June 26.

Ambassador Jessen said the first round of FTA negotiations will begin this Autumn, covering all elements mapped out in previous meetings.
He said that the EU expects to the negotiations to finalize all conditions as soon as possible.

Also in Brussels on June 27, Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton signed the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between Vietnam and the EU.

The new PCA demonstrates the commitment of the EU to forge a modern, broad-based and mutually-beneficial partnership with Vietnam . It will further broaden the scope of EU-Vietnam cooperation in areas such as trade, the environment, energy, science and technology, good governance, as well as tourism, culture, migration, counter terrorism and the fight against corruption and organised crime.
Vietnam is the EU’s fifth largest trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and 35th in the world. The EU is Vietnam ’s third largest trading partner behind China and the US .

In 2011, the EU exported goods worth 5.2 billion EUR to Vietnam and imported goods worth 12.8 billion EUR from the Southeast Asian country.

The EU is also among Vietnam’s largest investors with a total investment of 1.8 billion USD, accounting for more than 12 percent of the total committed foreign direct investment in Vietnam in 2011.-VNA