A Vietnamese delegate on October 3 presented to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Public Forum in Geneva an overview of Vietnam’s economic developments as well as opportunities and challenges facing EU businesses when investing in the country.

In his presentation, Ambassador Nguyen Trung Thanh, Vietnam’s permanent representative to the United Nations, the WTO, and other international organisations in Geneva, highlighted the role of world trade in Vietnam’s economic success in recent years in the context of the country accelerating transition to a more modern market economy and deeper and more extensive integration into the global market.

After 15 years being a WTO member, Vietnam enjoyed a more than 10-fold increase in trade turnover, with 2012 marking the first time the country recorded a trade surplus in the past 20 years, the ambassador said.

In the first eight months of 2014, the country’s foreign trade turnover hit 191.4 billion USD, a year-on-year rise of 12.5 percent. Of the total, imports were valued at 94.16 billion USD, whilst export revenue reached 97.23 billion USD.

Vietnam has enjoyed stability in macro-economy with lower inflation, growing trade and increase in investment inflow, Thanh said, adding that the economic growth rate, however, is slowing down due to the careful restructuring of the banking system and State-owned enterprises.

The country is also facing a middle income trap and still lack outstanding policy-makers and economists and skilled workers, while economic growth in an open market mechanism is putting a burden on natural resources and sustainable environmental development, Thanh stated.

The official affirmed Vietnam’s commitment to continue with economic reform, maintain a stable political situation, create a social consensus in economic policies and become a cheap and safe destination for tourists.

Regarding the relations between Vietnam and the EU – one of its most important trade partners and investors, the diplomat affirmed that the two sides experienced a strong development in bilateral economic and trade ties over the past decade.

He attributed the development to a number of agreements signed between the two sides, notably the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA). They are also negotiating for a free trade agreement (FTA), which is expected to be inked by year-end.

Last year, the value of EU exports to Vietnam increased by 4.2 percent against the previous year. The union was the sixth largest investor of Vietnam in 2013 with 71 newly-registered projects.

In the time ahead, Vietnam will expand negotiations on bilateral trade agreements, prioritise developing information technology and support industries, reduce the export of natural resources and facilitate the operation of businesses, especially small and medium-sized ones, he stated.

This year’s WTO Public Forum took place on October 1-3 with 68 discussion sessions on “Why trade matters to everyone”./.