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Vietnam expects tVietnam prioritises trade ties with EUo accelerate the ongoing negotiations of a free trade agreement (FTA) and sign the pact with the European Union in 2014 as scheduled.

Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang was speaking at a reception for visiting Antonio Tajani, Vice President of the European Commission in Hanoi on November 13.

The EU is one of Vietnam’s leading partner in its foreign policy, and Tajani’s visit accompanied by 50 businesses will create a good chance for both sides to capitalise on the future Vietnam-EU FTA, said Hoang.

He proposed the EC support the FTA negotiations, provide continued ODA for 2014-20, and maintain the generalised system of preferences (GSP) for Vietnamese commodities as of January 1, 2014.

For his part, Tajani stressed the importance of economic, trade and investment cooperation between the EU and Vietnam, saying the European grouping will expand cooperation in industry, farm produce processing, and cosmetics with Vietnam.

Once the FTA is signed, it will add fresh impetus to stronger economic, trade and investment cooperation between the EU and Vietnam, he said.

Statistics show the EU is Vietnam’s largest export market and the country’s second largest bilateral trade partner.

In the first nine months of 2013 two-way trade rose 20.8% to more than US$24.8 billion, and the figure is expected to hit US$32-33 billion by year’s end.

Both sides recently concluded the fifth round of their FTA negotiations and they believe the trade pact will be signed by late 2014.

This FTA will help Vietnam expand its outlets, improve its competitive capacity, and attract more foreign investment, especially from the EU.

To date 23 of the 28 EU member countries have invested in over 1,800 Vietnam-based projects with a total registered capitalisation of more than US$32.8 billion. Of the total, US$13.1 billion has been disbursed.

(VOV)

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