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EU-Vietnam relations reach new heights

EU-Vietnam relations reach new heights

The upcoming visit of the new Chairman of the National Assembly of Vietnam, Vuong Dinh Hue, will be the first high-level visit to Europe by a Vietnamese leader after the elections to the Parliament. The visit will also be an opportunity to celebrate the 76th anniversary of the National Day of Vietnam on September 2 and the first anniversary of the EU - Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

The cooperation between Vietnam and the EU over the past 30 years has become a model of EU cooperation with Asian countries. During the years, there have also been great strides in the bilateral relations between Vietnam and EU member states.

The legislative bodies of the two sides have played an important role in this process. Key milestones were the early ratification of a highly complex and ambitious new-generation free trade agreement with an emerging economy. During the years, there have also been great strides in the bilateral relations between Vietnam and EU member states.

Bilateral economic cooperation has seen rapid development in recent years. The development aid for hunger eradication, poverty reduction, and economic restructuring that Vietnam received initially has developed into an equal and mutually beneficial partnership. Trade relations are the premise to promote cooperation in politics and other strategic areas on the basis of mutual benefits.

The EU continues to consider Vietnam a leading partner in the region. Both sides have focused on promoting the implementation of their Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).  The EU - Vietnam Joint Committee mechanism substantially contributes to dealing with issues of mutual concern such as economics, trade, traffic, counter-terrorism, transnational crime, cyber security, and maritime security.

Vietnam has always positioned itself as a bridge between the EU and the Southeast Asian countries (ASEAN): Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The EU, on its part, continues to support Vietnam in promoting relations with the ASEAN countries, other major powers, and international organizations.

The EU is also expected to support Vietnam in sustainable energy development, governance, rule of law, and legislation.

Progress in free trade agreement

The free trade agreement makes Vietnam the EU's largest trading partner in ASEAN for the first time, with an export-import turnover in the first six months of 2021 of about €28 billion (an increase by 18 % compared to the same period last year).

The agreement brings high-quality Vietnamese goods at reasonable prices, such as textiles and garments, agriculture, forestry and fishery, to consumers in the EU. It has also increased the EU's export to Vietnam for industrial machinery, hi-tech agriculture, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and vehicles.

The free trade agreement also contributes to investment activities between the two sides. The EU has currently more than 2,200 projects from all EU member countries in Vietnam, and registered investment capital reached more than 22 billion USD.

However, investments have not yet lived up to the expectations and account for only 7% of total foreign direct investments in Vietnam. The National Assembly of Vietnam approved already last year the EU - Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) with an overwhelming majority. Leading European enterprises are now looking forward for the EU to following suit and soon ratify the agreement.

Effective implementation of the free trade agreement, the ratification of the protection agreement, and the removal of the yellow card under the IUU regulation on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing will benefit all parties in the European and ASEAN market.

Donation of COVID-19 vaccines

The EU is leading global efforts to help countries to access COVID-19 vaccines and has already donated 2.4 million vaccine doses to Vietnam through the COVAX Facility. Recently, senior leaders of Vietnam sent a letter to the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission to ask for more support and the sharing of vaccines with Vietnam.

EU's support to Vietnam as regards vaccines, medicines and medical equipment at this critical time demonstrates the good relations between the EU and Vietnam and the practical implementation of the agreements with Vietnam in the management of the coronavirus crisis.

Furthermore, strengthening regional and local cooperation with Vietnam, especially in tourism, education, logistics, agriculture, and high technology, is of utmost importance. It is also necessary that the EU promotes Green Technology Transfer to Vietnam in the treatment of waste, water sources, management of seawater intrusion, and sea-level rise to enhance people's lives in areas affected by climate changes such as the Central region and the Mekong Delta.

The EU is also expected to support Vietnam in sustainable energy development, governance, rule of law, and legislation. Vietnam is also still in need of development assistance for projects on developing green energy and improving the environment in a sustainable way in rural and mountainous areas. Green Technology Transfer to Vietnam will enhance people's lives in areas affected by climate change such as the Central region and the Mekong Delta.

Close Belgium-Vietnam relations

Belgium is one of the EU member states maintaining good relations with Vietnam. Vietnam is Belgium's 14th largest trading partner while Belgium ranked 5th out of 27 EU countries investing in Vietnam. Since 2018, Belgium is also a strategic partner in the field of agriculture.

The Vietnamese community in Belgium is not large but deeply integrated and has become a solid bridge between the two countries, contributing to the bilateral relations.

High-ranking officials of the two countries regularly visit each other, notably the visit of National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan in 2019 and the upcoming visit of the new National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue.

Attractive investment fields in Vietnam are industrial zones, food and beverage, processing and manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and renewable energy. On July 31, 2021, Vietnam officially licensed investments in the wind power project in Binh Thuan (worth 3.1 billion USD). In the field of logistics, the two countries recently started to operate a railway line from Yen Vien, Hanoi.

Opening a new freight transport route from Vietnam to Europe is also planned considering that international sea transport continues to face difficulties.

In the near future, the two sides should continue to closely cooperate at international and regional multilateral forums, such as the United Nations Security Council and the Human Rights Council, to strengthen cooperation to contribute to ensuring security, safety, and freedom of navigation in the region.

Promoted by DSM Communications Belgium.


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