Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
Geneva (VNA) – Vietnam is on the right path, Director-General of the World Trade Organistion (WTO) Roberto Azevêdo said.

He made the statement on Vietnam’s efforts in international integration during an exclusive interview granted to Vietnam News Agency correspondents in Geneva ahead of his official visit to the Southeast Asian nation on April 14-15.

Following is the full text of the interview.

Q: This is the first time a WTO Director-General has visited Vietnam. Could you tell us the purpose of the visit?

A: Well, it is in fact my first visit to Vietnam as Director General, and as a person, and as it is my first visit I am very interested in the country. Vietnam has boasted very significant progress, both in economic terms, but also in social terms – millions have been lifted out of poverty. So I’m very happy with the progress as the country has experimented over the last several years, Vietnam has become a leading agriculture exporter, it’s a very attractive sight for foreign direct investment in Asia, it’s an economy that’s playing a role in the region, and in the world, and it’s important for me to hear a little bit about what are the projects for the country? What are the strategies for growth, or for trade in the country?

And I will be meeting with government officials, representatives from business, academia – so it’s important for me to listen to all those things, to check how the WTO can help? And how we can deepen the dialogue between the two of us.

Q: What is your assessment of Vietnam’s efforts in international integration?

A: Well, Vietnam acceded to the WTO in 2007, and before that, and after that a number of reforms were introduced that made a big difference.

Trade was liberalised considerably, tariffs in general were lowered, there were reforms in services as well, there is clearly an improvement also in intellectual property and enforcement and protection. So, there were many things that were done. The government took several steps to modernise the economy, to make it more attractive, to make it more business friendly, and all those things now, are benefitting the country.

So I think Vietnam is on the right path. It has also developed a network of trade agreements; it has participated in regional agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP, which is very important as well. So the efforts are paying off, and I think Vietnam is on the right track.

Q: What, in your opinion, should WTO and Vietnam do to increase the country’s role and position in global trade activities?

A: Well first, we have to talk to each other more, and that’s precisely what I’m doing, that’s why I’m coming to Vietnam, precisely to deepen the understanding of what Vietnam has planned for the future and how the WTO can help them, and also Vietnam can help the WTO too, helping to develop now disciplines, areas for negotiations that may benefit the country in the future.

Implementing agreements that we have already is very important. Vietnam was early in ratifying the trade facilitation agreement, it did so last December, so now implementing that agreement is very important because in general it will lower the cost of doing business for Vietnamese enterprises and it will facilitate the business of small and medium enterprises which are the larger part of the Vietnamese economy. It is composed of small and medium enterprises, and they benefit significantly from that agreement.

And of course now we are figuring out how to conduct further negotiations, how to move forward with our negotiations, both with the impending issues of the Doha round, but also non-Doha issues which members want to talk about like electronic commerce, even small and medium enterprises, or facilitation of investments and other things people are talking about that Vietnam could consider discussing here with the WTO to help even further its plans for development and growth.-VNA