Vietnam and the European Union (EU) are officially negoting a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).
This was announced at a press briefing in Brussels, Belgium, on June 26 in the presence of Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.
Global Financial Newswires (RTTNews) reported that the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Foreign Minister Minh are expected to sign a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) on June 27.
“I look forward to signing a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which will help to bring relations to a new level. I hope the agreement will soon be complemented by an ambitious EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement,” Ashton said in a statement.
Describing Vietnam as a dynamic economy and a central actor of the ASEAN regional grouping, Ashton said the EU considers the South Asian nation as a partner ready to take greater responsibility in the world.
Ashton expressed her hope that the agreement will allow the EU to build a modern, broad-based and mutually-beneficial partnership with Vietnam. The pact will also 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 organized crime, she added.
The above mentioned PCA needs to be ratified by EU members and submitted to the European Parliament before it enters formally into force.
Vietnam will be the third ASEAN country, alongside with Malaysia and Singapore, to begin FTA negotiations with the EU.Vietnam-EU trade relations have developed rapidly in recent years. In 2011, EU became Vietnam’s top investor with a total committed investment of US$1.77 billion, making up more than 12 percent of the total amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Southeast Asian country.