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Vietnam-EU FTA: Opportunities, challenges VNTimes


The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will create long-term strategic benefitsfor Vietnam in the EU, which is home to 27 countries and apopulation of 490 million.

The remarks were made byDang Hoang Hai, head of the European Department under the Ministry ofIndustry and Trade, at a May 29 seminar co-organised by the VietnamChamber of Commerce and Industry’s Ho Chi Minh City chapter and the EUDelegation to Vietnam.

Vietnam and the EU supportrather than compete with each other in trade, he said, adding that theformer chiefly imports machinery, equipment, garment, materials,leather, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, steel and fertiliser.

Once the FTA is signed at the end of 2014, it may allow Vietnameseenterprises to purchase materials at suitable prices, thus increasingthe competitiveness of the country’s exports, he noted.

He urged local businesses to pay more attention to technical standards and food hygiene as well as tax barriers.

Sharing his views, Colin Kinghorn, head of Mekong Sub-region andIndonesia at Ipsos Group, said Vietnam will have to compete directlywith EU enterprises when the FTA is finalised.

Hesuggested Vietnamese enterprises coordinate with each other to raisetheir products’ competitiveness while making the best use of the supplychain to gain a firm foothold for Vietnamese products in the EU market.

The Vietnam-EU FTA will open up marketopportunities and Vietnamese businesses should turn challenges fromcompetition into opportunities to access advanced technology that helpsmodernise production processes and improve product quality, he said.

According to Hai, exports to the EU make up 17 percentof the country’s total export revenue. The figure is expected to climbto 20 percent in the time to come.

Over the lastdecade, two-way trade between Vietnam and the EU experienced asixfold increase, from 4.99 billion USD in 2002 to 29.1 billion USD in2012.

Last year, the EU surpassed the US tobecome Vietnam’s second largest trade partner and a leading importer ofVietnamese commodities.

The Southeast Asian country shipped 20.3 billion USD worth of goods to the EU, up 22.71 percent over the previous year.

In the first quarter of this year, the figure was 4.34 billion USD, representing a year-on-year rise of 27.18 percent.

Jean-Jacques Bouflet, Minister Counsellor of the EU Delegation toVietnam, said the EU-Vietnam FTA will allow Vietnamese businesses toenjoy a zero percent tax rate for 90 percent of tax lines within sevenyears, and at the same time open up more opportunities for investmentactivities and technological transfer.

Besides, Vietnam is expected to lure more foreign direct investment to produce exports destined for the EU.

Since the end of 2012, the two sides have conducted three negotiationsin various areas such as trade, services, Sanitary and Phytosanitary(SPS), technical barriers and sustainable development, he said.-VNA

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