EU protectionism hinders Vietnam exports, trade official says

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European Union protectionism has prevented Vietnamese exports from reaching their potential in the market, said an official from the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

"We know that the union is under political and social pressures to implement protectionism on trade with other countries, but it is unfair for Vietnam," said Nguyen Canh Cuong, deputy head of the ministry's European Market Department.

Cuong told Thanh Nien Weekly EU protectionism had been reveled in punitive measures, and technical and environmental barriers on footwear, bicycles and agricultural products from Vietnam.

He said five years of EU antidumping duties on Vietnamese footwear exporters had been extended for another five years in 2009.

The union had been threatening to extend the duties on bicycles imported from Vietnam, which will expire in July, for another five years, said Cuong.

He said Vietnam's exports to the grouping had grown only minimally in recent years due to the protectionism. He added that exports to the US had increased dramatically over the same period of time.

Vietnamese exports to the union were worth US$9.3 billion in 2009 compared to $10.9 billion in 2008 due to the global economic slowdown. But the country exported $11.2 billion in goods to the US last year, according to the General Statistics Office.

Vietnam and the union have been negotiating a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement since 2008.

The new bilateral agreement, for which eight rounds of talks are scheduled, would help Vietnam boost exports to the union, which would reduce tariffs for its partner, and call for investments from the grouping, said trade counselor at the Delegation of the European Commission to Vietnam Antonio Berengue.

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