This is according to EU representatives speaking at a meeting with Nguyen Van Binh, head of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee’s Economic Commission and secretary of the CPV Central Committee, who led a high-ranking Party delegation on a visit to Belgium and the EU.
They extolled Vietnam’s determination and goodwill towards the signing of the trade deal which is of great political and economic importance to both sides.
During the May 30-31 visit to Belgium, Mr Binh met European Commission (EC) Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation, Alexander De Croo, former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere, and Federal Minister of Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, Marie-Christine Marghem.
At a working session with the EC Vice President, Mr Binh told his host that Vietnam always attaches importance to its relations with the EU and praised the positive developments in Vietnam - EU cooperation over recent years, especially in trade and investment. The EU is Vietnam’s second largest trading partner and export market, accounting for 18% of the country’s exports.
In addition, the EU is among the five biggest foreign investors in Vietnam with last year’s turnover in bilateral trade approaching US$52 billion, and Vietnam’s trade surplus with the European bloc hovering around US$31.8 billion.
The two sides agreed to ratify the EU-Vietnam Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (PCA), which aims to create an important legal framework to elevate comprehensive ties between Vietnam and the EU.
Mr Binh highlighted the EVFTA’s great benefits to Vietnam and the whole EU, as it will lay the foundation for closer cohesion between the EU and Southeast Asia, and the Asia-Pacific region, bucking the trend of rising protectionism in other nations around the world.
His views received support from senior Belgian officials such as Marie-Christine Marghem, who remarked that Belgium fully supports the EVFTA negotiations.
At other working sessions in Belgium, the two sides affirmed that economic and financial cooperation is of fundamental importance to bilateral ties and pledged to boost coordination for a productive implementation of the outcomes of the fourth meeting of the Joint Committee and to take more effective measures to support import, export, trade and investment activities.
The Belgian side will facilitate the Vietnamese products which meet its standards in accessing distribution channels and supermarket and retail networks, with a focus on agricultural and seafood products.
For his part, Mr Binh assured Vietnam’s sustained efforts to improve the investment and business environment and accelerate economic restructuring, focusing on the equitisation of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and suggested the Belgian government encourage its businesses to intensify their investment in Vietnam in prioritized and key areas such as sea transport, logistics services, green technology, agriculture, renewable energy, and health care as well as engaging in the equitisation of SOEs.
He asked Belgium to speed up the progress of urban development and climate change adaptation projects in Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan, and Ha Tinh, which have used Belgium non-refundable aid, and to swiftly complete the drainage and wastewater treatment project in Cua Lo Town (second phase).