BRUSSELS (VNS) — Viet Nam is a friendly and reliable partner of the EU and the Free Trade Agreement being negotiated will promote growth for both sides, a senior European Commission official has said.
Joseph Waldstein Wartenberg, spokesman for the EC's Trade Office, told the Vietnam News Agency reporter in Brussels that the signing of the Agreement of Partnership and Cooperation and the FTA negotiations are positive signs in bilateral ties as Viet Nam and the EU celebrate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties this year.
Viet Nam and EU are set to continue the 12th round of negotiations on the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement on March 24 in Ha Noi.
It is scheduled to be the last session before the negotiations are concluded and the agreement signed.
Wartenberg praised Viet Nam's young and abundant population and its economy, which he said was among the fastest-growing in the Southeast Asian region.
EU is the second largest trade partner of Viet Nam behind China, with Viet Nam-EU trade reaching 27 billion euros in 2013. Viet Nam is the fourth largest trading partner of EU in ASEAN and the 30th in the world.
Vietnamese exports to EU increased by 28 per cent during the 2009-2013 period.
Warternberg said that besides tax and trade barriers, negotiations would focus on legal issues, competitiveness and other issues related to intellectual property rights.
To prevent Viet Nam from becoming a low-skilled labour market after signing the FTA, he said there will be a chapter on sustainable commerce and development, including commitments under norms set by the International Labour Organisation.
Other regulations on the labour and investment environment as well as a legal framework involving civil organisations will also be negotiated.
Alongside these, Viet Nam needs to be committed to protecting and managing sustainably its biodiversity and its forests, preventing illegal logging as part of its efforts to fight climate change, he added.