Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium cum Head of the country’s delegation
to the European Union (EU) Pham Sanh Chau has expressed optimism at the
progress of negotiations for a free trade agreement between Vietnam
and the EU, and between the EU and ASEAN.
speaking at a conference on economic and trade relations between the EU
and ASEAN recently held by the International Trade Committee and the
External Policy Department of the European Parliament in Brussels .
Chau said the FTA negotiations between Vietnam
and the EU are a national priority as the EU is the country’s most
important trading partner.
Last year, the EU
surpassed the US to become the largest importer of Vietnamese goods,
worth a total of 20.31 billion USD – up 22.71 percent over the previous
year. Vietnam imported 8.79 billion USD worth of goods from the
union, an increase of 13.48 percent compared to 2011, he noted.
Two rounds of negotiations between the two sides have ended with
positive results, he added. The next round will take place in Hanoi
Speaking at the event, Mauro
Petriccione, Director for Asia and Latin America at the Trade Department
of the European Commission and Chief Negotiator for the EU-Vietnam FTA
negotiations, affirmed that ASEAN is now the third largest partner of
the EU, behind the US and China .
consumes 10.7 percent of the EU’s exported goods, and ships 9.4 percent
of its exported products to Europe , he said, adding that the
ten-member regional grouping and its 600 million residents will continue
to be an important partner to the EU in the 2013-2017 period.
The EU is also negotiating a FTA with Malaysia . It concluded
negotiations with Singapore in December last year, and is pursuing
negotiations with other ASEAN member countries including the
Philippines and Thailand .
ASEAN or the
Association of South-East Asian Nations consists of Brunei, Cambodia,
Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and