The EU and Vietnam are set to begin full negotiations for a free-trade agreement after completing the scoping exercise with a common understanding on key topics to be covered by the agreement on Mar. 31 during the 2nd ASEAN-EU Business Summit held in Phnom Penh.

The European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam said in its press release on Apr. 3 that the aim of this preparatory work is to ensure that both sides share the same ambitions in the upcoming negotiations.

The two sides will cover a wide range of issues, including the elimination of import tariffs, enhancing trade in services, tackling non-tariff barriers, while reaching a broader agreement on intellectual-property rights and competition in each other's markets.

The agreement signals the beginning of the process of formal negotiations.

The European Commission will have to consult with EU Member States before it can launch formal negotiations with Vietnam .

After Singapore and Malaysia , Vietnam is the third member of ASEAN with which the EU has begun negotiations on a free-trade deal.

EuroCham Vietnam Chairman Preben Hjortlund commented: "A Vietnam – EU FTA will enable Vietnam to benefit from high-quality imports and increased technology transfer. Increased high-quality imports will - in return - help upgrading the quality of Vietnam ’s exports so that Vietnamese enterprises will be able to improve their competitiveness in the long term.

EuroCham believes that once a Vietnam - EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is in place, EU FDI will further increase both in quantity and in quality: EU enterprises will increasingly perceive Vietnam as their ASEAN hub or even headquarters, from which they can service efficiently both ASEAN markets and neighboring countries, like Japan, China and India.-VNA