Vietnam, Europe look toward future

Vietnam, Europe look toward future - ảnh 1

(VOVworld)- President of the European Commission (EC) Jose Manual Barroso began an official visit to Vietnam on Monday at the invitation of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. This is Mr. Barroso’s second visit to Vietnam as EC President, an indication of growing Vietnam-EU ties.

The European Union is an economic and political bloc of 28 members. Vietnam and the EU officially established diplomatic relations in November, 1990. Six years later the EU officially sent its first delegation to Hanoi. Since then the Vietnam-EU relationship has developed steadily and the two have regularly exchanged delegations. The EU is now one of Vietnam’s most important partners in economics, trade, and investment, and has contributed significantly to Vietnam’s socio-economic development and international integration.

Breakthrough in Vietnam-EU relations

Since the EU approved the Lisbon Treaty on institutional reform, it has pursued an active foreign policy with special attention to Asia and ASEAN, and Vietnam has fostered a multifaceted relation with the EU. In 2012 the two signed a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and began free trade agreement (EVFTA) negotiations. Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium and the EU Pham Sanh Chau told VOV: “This was our first Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. It serves as a formulation for the Vietnam-EU relationship.  The agreement went beyond the framework of cooperation between a donor and recipient. The two sides are involved in negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement, which will help Vietnamese goods enter the European market without tariff”.

Trade and investment are the two pillars of the Vietnam-EU relationship. Between 2001 and 2013, trade increased 7 fold from 4.5 billion USD to 33.7 billion USD. In 2012 the EU, for the first time, surpassed the US to become Vietnam’s largest export market. Vietnam has maintained surplus export to the EU. As of June of this year, 23 out of 28 EU members had invested in Vietnam with more than 1,470 projects valued at 18 billion USD. These projects are being implemented throughout Vietnam in the processing industry, manufacturing, electricity production and distribution, water supply, information technology and communications. The EU and Vietnam will soon sign a FTA to boost trade and investment. Vice President of the EC Catherine Ashton said during her visit to Vietnam in August: "The free trade agreement will bring free opportunities for Vietnamese businesses, granting preferential market access to your exports to the EU. Negotiators are making good progress, although acceleration of talks will be required to complete the agreement before the end of the year."

EU members are major ODA donors to Vietnam. The EU pledged to Vietnam 400 million Euros in the 2014-2020 period, 30% more than in the 2007-2013 period.

Cooperation for peace and stability

Vietnam and the EU have closely cooperated at multilateral forums and within international organizations, especially within the frameworks of ASEAN-EU cooperation, the Asia-Europe Meeting, and the UN. Vietnam is currently a coordinator of the ASEAN-EU dialogues. In July Vietnam and the EU co-chaired the 20th ASEAN-EU Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with the theme “Toward an ASEAN-EU strategic partnership for peace, stability and prosperity”. Vietnamese Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau said: “The EU was one of the few foreign partners that held a hearing on the East Sea at the European Parliament. The European Parliament adopted a resolution on strengthening relations with ASEAN countries which includes fundamental views on maintaining peace in the East Sea. This is a positive sign in the Vietnam-EU relationship.

During his two days in Vietnam, EC President Barroso will discuss with Vietnamese leaders ways to boost bilateral ties, in economics, and trade and exchange views on regional and global issues.