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New prospects for Vietnam-EU trade  (23/02/2009) 
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) says that it will increase trade promotion activities and expand its export market to the European Union this year, aiming to achieve a growth rate of 15 percent.

Representatives of the European Commission and the MoIT reviewed trade ties between Vietnam and the EU and discussed future prospects for bilateral cooperation at a joint conference held in Brussels, Belgium, over the weekend.

The Vietnamese delegation was led by MoIT Deputy Minister Le Danh Vinh. Vietnamese trade counsellors in France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, the UK, Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Romania also attended the meeting.

Mr Vinh granted an interview to Paris-based VOV correspondent Van Anh, to talk about the results of the meeting.  

VOV: Could you brief us on the major issues discussed in the meeting?
Mr Vinh: The European Commission introduced the mechanisms and policies the EU is applying in its relations with countries, including Vietnam. Through the meeting, we gained a better understanding of these mechanisms and policies so we can boost our exports to this demanding market.

VOV: What are the advantages and disadvantages of a bilateral trade exchange?
Mr Vinh: The EU is comprised of 27 member states - a very large market of more than 460 million consumers. Its GDP is nearly US$15,000 billion, making up 27 percent of the world’s total. The value of imports and exports between the bloc and its non-EU partners is US$2,900 billion, representing 25 percent of the global import-export market value.

The EU has a big advantage in importing and exporting services, accounting for 43.8 percent of the global market share. Its total foreign direct investment in non-EU countries makes up 47 percent of the world total.

In its policy, the EU plans to abolish trade restrictions and lower tax barriers, and it is applying the policy of multilateralisation, regionalisation and bilateralisation to many countries across the world. It has offered the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) to 143 countries and preferential treatment to poor nations. These are advantages that Vietnam should make full use of in trade with this bloc.

Meanwhile, Vietnam is a potential market of more than 80 million consumers. It has achieved a relatively high economic growth for many consecutive years. In addition, since the open-door policy was introduced in 1986, the country has been integrating deep into the region and the world. Both Vietnam and the EU will have many opportunities to boost trade in the future.

Although the EU, like the US, is bearing the brunt of the global financial meltdown and economic crisis, it is still a potentially lucrative market. However, there remain obstacles to trade ties between the two sides. Last year, the EU removed Vietnam from the list of GSP recipients for garments and footwear in the 2009-2012 period. It is currently imposing anti-dumping tariffs on leather capped shoes imported from Vietnam.

VOV: What do you think about the progress in trade between the two sides in recent times?
Mr Vinh: Trade ties between Vietnam and the EU have grown and flourished over the past 9 years, with two-way trade reaching more than US$76 billion, of which Vietnam’s exports fetch US$50.4 billion. Vietnam exports primarily footwear, garments, coffee, wooden products and seafood to the EU while it imports machinery, pharmaceuticals, accessories for garments and footwear, steel and fertilisers.

VOV: In the current context, what areas do you think we should focus on to promote trade with the EU?
Mr Vinh:
Realising the importance of this big market, Vietnam has so far signed more than 10 agreements with the bloc, laying a firm legal foundation for expanding bilateral economic and trade ties. This year, we plan to achieve an export growth rate of 15 percent in this market, and to do this we will seek and expand outlets to the EU. We will focus on exporting highly-competitive and hi-tech products, such as mechanical products, electronics, electrical equipment, processed farm products, footwear, garments and handicrafts.

I think we should carefully study the EU’s trade and industrial policies and make recommendations to ministries, sectors, localities and businesses, to help them draw up appropriate export strategies.

In addition, we should explore the EU market to import key materials for domestic production and exports, especially for sectors with the greatest demand.


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