EU and Vietnam set to sign up for fruitful 2011

A cooperation agreement and free trade deal discussion will help accelerate the relationship between the European Union and Vietnam in 2011, EU ambassador to Vietnam Sean Doyle said last week.
A PCA deal will provide a locomotive for EU direct investments in Vietnam

“Building on recent agreements and on strong growth both in Vietnam’s exports to Europe and in Europe’s investment in Vietnam, both sides can look forward to a very fruitful year in 2011,” said the ambassador, who is also head of the EU delegation to Vietnam.

Doyle said both sides would officially seal the EU-Vietnam Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA) around March-April 2011 after initiating the agreement in October 2010 in Brussels.

“The signing will be then followed by ratification by Vietnam’s president and by the EU member states’ and the European Parliaments, which will possibly be complete mid 2012,” Doyle said.

The ambassador stressed that the PCA would develop the existing institutional framework and increase dialogue and cooperation between the EU and Vietnam in the future.

“It envisages a new forward-looking and modern agenda, reflecting the needs and interests of both Vietnam and the EU, and will be a powerful catalyst to bring the partnership to its full potential,” he said.

Doyle noted, however, that it would not be necessary to wait until an approval of PCA from both governments before the EU could open talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) with Vietnam, which could help accelerate both sides’ trade and investment activities and Vietnam’s business position as well.

“In 2010, Vietnam and the EU made a top level agreement to start negotiations on a bilateral FTA. These will be officially launched as soon as possible in 2011, once preliminary technical preparations are terminated,” he said.

According to a senior leader of the Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), it is now necessary for Vietnam and the EU to agree on the prioritised contents for negotiation.

Latest statistics from the MoIT show that Vietnam’s exports to the EU market increased 17.8 per cent in 2010 to $9.47 billion, ranking second after the Asian market with nearly $34 billion.

Vietnam imported more than $5 billion worth of goods from the EU member countries, after China, ASEAN and Japan.

New EU direct investment in Vietnam rose more than six times in 2010 against 2009 with the Netherlands ranking first among EU investors in the Southeast Asian country last year with nearly $2.4 billion committed investment capital in 14 projects.