Top Vietnamese Official Talks about EU Trade Relationship

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Sept. 3 –At a recent EuroCham event, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai spoke of the future of the EU-Vietnam trade and the role of the European private sector in the nation’s continuing development.

He cited the growing trade relationship between the EU and Vietnam in the past last ten years with two-way trade turnover estimated at US$12 billion for 2008. This figure makes the EU, Vietnam’s largest trade partner.

The union is also the second biggest FDI source of Vietnam with around US$9 billion and more 750 projects which contribute much to the development of Vietnam economy. So far, its committed ODA for 2008 amounts to US$962 million.

He went on to say that the country is working towards an equal opportunity environment for businesses and a stable macro socio-economic situation. This includes slowing down inflation and narrowing the trade gap to attract more foreign investors.

Mr. Hai said that the EU should consider lifting the anti-dumping measures on Vietnamese products such as shoes and catfish. He cited that the government has already requested the union to expedite the market economic status for Vietnam.

During the event, Mr. Hai also took the time to answer questions from EuroCham members.

On the issue of government subsidies limited to certain industries contrary to its commitments in joining the WTO, Mr. Hai said that they have chosen to prioritize restraining inflation. This has led to the government to subsidize industries like cement and gas. However, Vietnam remains determined to following its commitments in joining WTO and should soon remedy the situation. In addition, Vietnam has just established a committee to control competition in accordance to WTO, and Vietnamese laws

The question of whether the government will open the infrastructure sector for foreign investors in the future also came up. Mr. Hai said that one reason that led to high consumer price index in Vietnam for the last two years was due to the government spending too much on infrastructure, albeit not efficiently. Now it has to change and follow international standards to attract the private sector and foreign investors to invest.