Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s tour to Belgium and the European Union (EU) marks important milestones for Vietnam-Belgium relations and the Vietnam-EU Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation, a diplomat has said.
Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium and head of the Vietnamese Mission to the EU Vu Anh Quang
In an interview with Vietnam News Agency correspondents in Brussels ahead of the tour from October 16-19, Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium and head of the Vietnamese Mission to the EU Vu Anh Quang said PM Phuc’s visit has three main purposes.
First, he pays an official visit to Belgium from October 16-17. During his stay, Phuc is expected to meet with King Philippe, Prime Minister Charles Michel, President of the Chamber of Representatives Siegfried Bracke, Minister-President of Flanders Geert Bourgeois, and Minister-President of Wallonia Willy Borsus.
The Government leader will next attend the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit on October 18-19, which will be attended by heads of state and government of 51 member nations.
Vietnam attaches special importance to the role of ASEM, Quang said, adding that at the summit, PM Phuc will deliver a speech at the first session, highlighting Vietnam’s proposals to intensify Asia-Europe cooperation. The PM will also meet with participating leaders to boost bilateral relations.
Thirdly, PM Phuc will have talks with President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, meet European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, and get together with Chairperson of the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade (INTA) Bernd Lange, the ambassador added.
Regarding the Vietnam-Belgium relations, Ambassador Quang said the Belgium visit takes place with the two countries celebrating the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties and the bilateral relationship developing in all fields.
Belgium is Vietnam’s seventh largest trading partner in the EU, with two-way trade reaching US$2.7 billion last year. As of August 2018, Belgium’s investment was valued at US$900 million.
Many cooperative agreements will be signed during this visit, including one on the establishment of the Vietnam-Belgium Strategic Partnership in Agriculture and a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between Vietnam and Flanders. In addition, a cooperation programme between Vietnam and the Wallonia region for 2019-2021 will be inked this November.
These agreements will lift the two countries’ bilateral relations to a new height, especially in fields that Belgium has strength and the two countries hold big cooperation potential such as high-tech agriculture, environment, clean energy, logistics services and high-quality human resources training.
On the Vietnam-EU relations, the diplomat said the two sides ratified a Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (PCA) in late 2016 and completed negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and an Investment Protection Agreement (IPA). They are working towards the signing and ratification of the two agreements.
PM Phuc’s meetings with EU leaders are of great significance, helping push the signing and ratification of the FTA and IPA, Quang added.
The EU is Vietnam’s second largest trade partner and export market, with bilateral trade surpassing US$50 billion in 2017 and predicted to hit US$63 billion this year. The bloc is Vietnam’s fifth biggest investor, with a total capital of US$44 billion.
Once the FTA and IPA become effective, two-way trade between Vietnam and EU member states will surge and there will be a new flow of investments from EU countries to Vietnam, the diplomat predicted.