Italy eyes ambitious EU-ASEAN trade pact

09:53 | 19/07/2019 MUTRAP Corner

(VEN) - Italy’s major policy target in the next five years is to connect the EU and ASEAN in order to achieve a comprehensive trade agreement between the two sides, in which Vietnam plays a very important role, according to Enrico Letta, President of the Italy-ASEAN Association. Letta spoke to the media on the sidelines of the third High-Level Dialogue on Italy-ASEAN Economic Relations in Hanoi recently.

Could you share the importance of ASEAN and Vietnam in particular in Italy’s external relations policy?

ASEAN is a very important economic and geopolitical region for the Italian Government in general and the Italian business community in particular.

We have great opportunities to cooperate in various fields, from garments and fashion to new instruments, from food industry to engineering, infrastructure and transport.

The EU already has free trade agreements with specific countries but not yet with a community of nations. Therefore, a trade pact between the EU and ASEAN would be an ambitious project.

To achieve this target, of course, we need to sign the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), and we strongly pledge to maintain our support for the agreement until the end of the negotiation process. For Italy, ASEAN remains a top priority, and I strongly believe the agreement will be signed before the end of this year. We decided to hold the third High-Level Dialogue on Italy-ASEAN Economic Relations in Hanoi not only to have a bilateral meeting with Vietnamese authorities but also because we consider Hanoi one of the most important capitals in ASEAN.

italy eyes ambitious eu asean trade pact
Enrico Letta, President of the Italy-ASEAN Association

What are your views on the strategic partnership between Vietnam and Italy?

Vietnam and Italy share many similarities in terms of geographic conditions. The two sides are promoting the implementation of multilateral policies, which are very important and essential to both. Similarities between the Vietnamese and Italian economies will facilitate the operations of Italian businesses in Vietnam.

Italy attaches great importance to its bilateral strategic cooperation with Vietnam as well as its multilateral relations with ASEAN. Italian businesses consider Vietnam a strategic gateway to the Southeast Asian region. Italy wishes to assist Vietnam in UN activities. Its non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council in the 2020-2021 tenure will help Vietnam improve its global position and its role in the UN.

Do you think Vietnam can attract more Italian businesses?

Italian companies have maintained tight cooperation with Chinese partners over the past two decades, and many of them have operated successfully in China. However, the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community has removed all barriers between ASEAN and the EU, opening great opportunities for European companies to invest in ASEAN.

Therefore, we have established the Italy-ASEAN Association to convince Italian businesses that ASEAN is a reliable and attractive investment destination. Ariston Thermo is a typical example of successful Italian investment in Vietnam. This brand has become familiar to Vietnamese consumers. Other Italian companies are also operating successfully in Vietnam. Their success will attract more Italian businesses to Vietnam.

On June 7, Vietnam officially became a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2020-2021 tenure,

with a record vote of 192/193.

Nguyen Huong