EU emerges as VN’s largest trade partner
VNGOP - Trade between Việt Nam and the European Union has gone from strength to strength since the two sides inked a framework agreement in 1975.
The EU now makes up 17 percent of Việt Nam’s foreign trade and is the Southeast Asian country’s biggest trade partner.
In the first half of 2007 alone, two-way trade reached over US $6.7 billion, increasing by 26.2 percent over the same period last year.
2005 marked a turning point with bilateral trade revenues skyrocketing to US $8.1 billion, representing an increase of 27 fold over 1990 or doubling the 2000 figure.
Việt Nam’s exports to the EU surpassed US $7 billion in 2006, increasing by 2.5 times over 2000, while imports from the bloc were estimated at US $3 billion or 2.4 times over the first year of the decade.
Staple exports to the continent included footwear, apparel, seafood, fine art, bicycles, coffee and tea. Footwear netted the biggest slice of the pie with almost US $2 billion worth of products sold in 2006. Apparel ranked second with over US $1.24 billion coming into domestic coffers.
Germany, the UK, France and Holland have for years been Việt Nam’s largest export markets in the EU with annual growth rates estimated at between 20 and 30 percent.
Việt Nam’s major imports included equipment, machinery, technology, garment and textile materials and accessories, steel, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and chemical products.
A major reason behind the remarkable growth lays in the preferential taxes the two sides have granted each other over the years, said Đinh Văn Hồi, Deputy Head of the Europe Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
He also highlighted Việt Nam’s efforts in issuing a master plan on Việt Nam-EU relations on June 14, 2005, a program of action for the 2006-10 period and an orientation for 2015 as effective tools in boosting bilateral trade ties.
Along with the framework agreement, Việt Nam and the EU have signed a number of other deals such as the Garment and Textile Agreement, an accord on footwear trade fraud control and an agreement on market approaches.
The two sides in 2004 concluded bilateral negotiations on Việt Nam’s World Trade Organization membership.
However, barriers do still stand in the way of bilateral trade as the EU is imposing tough conditions on labor, environment and anti-dumping cases and ignoring Việt Nam’s development level in bilateral negotiations on the opening of markets, Mr. Hồi said.
He said for new heights to be reached in bilateral trade, further negotiations on trade policies, especially those with a direct impact onto the Vietnamese economy such as competitiveness and technological standards, are necessary.
Mr. Hồi also urged the bloc to intensify investment in oil and gas, new energies, shipbuilding, hi-tech industry and software technology.