Vietnam hopes to become EU’s largest trade partner in ASEAN

Monday, 2017-07-31 17:24:37
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Dragon fruits are packaged at the Cat Tuong agricultural products produciton and processing Co. Ltd in Tien Giang province (Photo: VNA)
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NDO/VNA – Vietnam is expected to become the EU’s largest trade partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), once the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) comes into effect in 2018, according to the Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh.

The minister said Vietnam could also become the most promising destination in Southeast Asia for European businesses.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), the country may serve as an entry point for EU trade to ASEAN.

Once effective, the EVFTA will encourage investment from the EU into Vietnam and create further opportunities for the two sides to access each other’s market, the ministry said.

The EU will eliminate approximately 85.6% of its tax lines on Vietnam’s exports, with the rate increasing to 99% seven years later.

Meanwhile, Vietnam will cut 65% of import duties on EU exports. In another 10 years, approximately 99.8% of EU goods exported to Vietnam will enjoy a zero percent tax rate.

Statistics released by the MoIT show that the Vietnam-EU trade grew by 8.93% in 2016, compared with the previous year, reaching US$45.07 billion.

Bilateral trade expanded by 16.2% annually in the first five months of 2017.

Of the figure, Vietnam’s exports to the EU rose 4.2%, mostly in apparel, footwear, agro-forestry-aquatic products and computers, while its imports from the EU rose 14%, including machinery, equipment, pharmaceuticals and dairy products.

The country’s major importers were Germany, the UK, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

With a population of more than 500 million, the EU is an attractive market for Vietnamese products such as garments, garments-textiles, seafood and coffee.

With the two sides’ commitment to opening up the market, two-way trade revenue is hoped to hit approximately US$100 billion annually.

However, Vietnamese businesses are expected to face fierce competition, forcing them to improve their operations.

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese Government plans to fast-track institutional reform and complete the legal framework in order to catch up with the development pace and the requirements of both domestic and global economies, the ministry said.