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EU keen on FTA negotiations with Vietnam   2010-01-20 - VietNamNet/SGT

The European Union is looking to an early start of negotiations over a free trade agreement with Vietnam to boost bilateral trade and resolve trade issues between the two sides.

Sean Doyle, ambassador and head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Vietnam, said the EU's anti-dumping tariffs on leather shoes imports from Vietnam had been an issue for four years. He pointed to the FTA as one of the resolutions to this major trade issue.


"We will have a solution to the issue if everything with FTA negotiations starts soon. We want it to start as soon as possible, even next month or in two months' time if possible," Doyle told the Daily before leaving a seminar organized by the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) in collaboration with the EU in HCMC last week.


The EU earlier voted for a 15-month extension of 10% tariffs on leather shoe imports from Vietnam despite protests by certain European business associations including EuroCham.


Doyle explained industry in Europe was low in terms of exports as the world's market was down, and a number of EU member states coped with fiscal and jobless issues. But, the European economy was pulling out of the global crisis.


Doyle said the EU now wanted to put an emphasis on FTA negotiations with Vietnam for the interests of both sides. He calculated it normally took about two years to complete such talks, through which anti-dumping disputes can be solved.


It is more difficult for the EU to reach an FTA with all ASEAN countries because the ASEAN members have different shopping lists and priorities, he said, so the EU is taking a country by country approach in a long-term perspective of a single regional agreement.


He said the idea of expanding trade was not for somebody to win or lose. "The more trade means more people will benefit... The target is to generate more trade."


He said an FTA was what the EU had been working for years to get the opportunity for the countries like Vietnam and China to become attractive markets. Under such an agreement, the EU will reduce its import tariffs and want the countries it has trade negotiations with to reduce theirs.


"This is what everybody has been doing to set up a world trade system to give opportunities to the countries that have potential," Doyle said. He added Vietnam had huge potential for growth and that it was good to see what was happening in this country.


One of the big opportunities for Europe now is selling and investing in Vietnam and China. Doyle said companies that were coming to invest in China also wanted to stay in the promising Vietnamese market for investment because they did not want to focus their investments on a single destination.


"This is a big advantage for Vietnam. So, anything that Vietnam can do is to make it more attractive to investors, from Europe and elsewhere," Doyle said after touching on the China plus one model that European investors now preferred.

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