Vietnam is currently the only Asian recipient of Belgian development aid and is keen to boost investments from Belgium and Europe, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung affirmed.

Addressing representatives from more than 150 Belgian and Vietnamese firms in Brussels on October 13, the Prime Minister said Vietnam prioritised refining market economy regulations, ensuring fair competition and reforming administrative procedures.

Vietnam is now a middle-income country with a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of over 2,000 USD. The economy is expected to grow by 6.5-7 percent from 2016-2020 overall, with a 6.2-6.4 percent growth rate forecast for 2015, he told the forum.

The country boasts more than 17,000 foreign-invested projects worth almost 250 billion VND (11.9 billion USD) and fulfils a large part of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Additionally, the Vietnam–European Union free trade agreement is scheduled to be completed during the first quarter next year, formalising bilateral trade between the two parties.

Last year, two-way trade between Vietnam and Belgium hit 1.8 billion USD, up by 17 percent year-on-year. The figure for January-June 2014 was 1.2 billion USD.

Regarding pharmaceuticals production, airport and seaport infrastructure, and hospital construction, the government leader made it clear that Vietnam would open its market to all interested parties and implement management practices in line with international standards, adding that the country encouraged investments in infrastructure, especially in the form of public-private partnerships.

Since Vietnam has a shortage of hospitals, the country also pushes for the involvement of the private sector in order to meet public demand, he said.

Marc Stordiau, Chief Executive Officer of Rent-a-Port, a company that recently received its investment licence from the PM, said Vietnam’s business-friendly climate and abundant young workforce were why his company sought to make inroads into the Vietnamese market.-VNA