09:08 | 03/03/2018 Cooperation
(VEN) - Vietnam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), comprised of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland, wish to accelerate negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA).
The issue was discussed last month at a meeting between Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue and Swiss Federal Council member Johann Ammann on the sidelines of the 48th World Economic Forum in Davos. The two sides said they hoped the deal could be signed in the first half of this year. Vietnam hopes the trade and investment cooperation with the EFTA will help it further expand external relations and integrate more deeply into the global economy.
Deputy PM Hue said promoting international economic integration is a major task and consistent policy of the Vietnamese government. Vietnam is signatory to more than 10 global and regional FTAs. The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) are also expected to be signed this year.
Deputy PM Hue emphasized the FTA between Vietnam and the EFTA should ensure balanced interests for the two sides to achieve sustainable development.
World Economic Forum President Borge Brende expressed his strong support for cooperation trends and economic linkages that help maintain the global free trade system, including the FTA between Vietnam and the EFTA.
In 2009, based on the potential of economic cooperation between Vietnam and the EFTA, as well as the demand of businesses and investors, high-ranking leaders of the two sides agreed to upgrade bilateral cooperation through an FTA.
The two sides conducted research on trade and investment relations between Vietnam and EFTA countries, as well as the legal system of each country, in order to identify the opportunities and challenges that would face each country in FTA negotiations.
The two sides agreed that the economic structures of Vietnam and the EFTA strongly complement each other, therefore a bilateral FTA would benefit both sides.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade, on behalf of the Vietnamese government, and the EFTA announced the initiation of FTA negotiations after completing their research.
On July 3, 2012, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding on the recognition of Vietnam as a market economy by EFTA countries. This reflected the EFTA’s acknowledgement of Vietnam’s economic reform efforts, as well as the association’s wish to promote economic and trade relations with Vietnam.
So far, the two sides have carried out 15 negotiating sessions, with the latest one taking place in Hanoi last September. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the 16th session will take place in Norway this May.