Free trade pact to cut EU’s trade deficit with Vietnam: economist

By Thao Vi, Thanh Nien News

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 The EU-ASEAN Business Council's Chairman Francois Guibert (left) and Executive Director Chris Humphrey at the EuroCham office in Ho Chi Minh City on November 24, 2014. Photo: Thao Vi The EU-ASEAN Business Council's Chairman Francois Guibert (left) and Executive Director Chris Humphrey at the EuroCham office in Ho Chi Minh City on November 24, 2014. Photo: Thao Vi

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The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (FTA), set to be concluded by June next year, will help the EU bloc to reduce the trade deficit with Vietnam by boosting exports to this country, an economist says.
The European Union and Vietnam began negotiations for a comprehensive free trade agreement in June 2012, and the deal is targeted to be concluded by next June, Francois Guibert, chairman of the EU-ASEAN Business Council, told Thanh Nien News in a recent interview.
“But we are in favor to make it earlier because... this agreement will be an advantage for both EU companies and Vietnamese companies,” Guibert said.
“Trade from Vietnam to the EU yields much more than trade from the EU to Vietnam. So, it’s important to rebalance that,” he said.
Last year, the EU-Vietnam trade in goods was worth over €27.6 billion (US$34.3 billion), with €21.3 billion in imports from Vietnam into the bloc.
EU exports to Vietnam are dominated by hi-tech products including electrical machinery and equipment, aircraft, vehicles, and pharmaceutical products. Vietnam's key export items to the EU include telephone sets, electronic products, footwear, textiles and clothing, coffee, rice, seafood, and furniture.
Guibert said once the FTA is concluded, EU companies will export more and invest more in Vietnam’s key areas such as energy, communication, infrastructure, and transportation, noting this would be good for both sides.
The EU-ASEAN Business Council, founded in April this year in Singapore to advocate for European business interests in the ASEAN region, supports the establishment of an EU-ASEAN free trade agreement, he said.
“For us, ASEAN is very important. EU is ASEAN’s second-largest trading partner and ASEAN’s largest investor in FDI. And ASEAN is EU’s third-largest trading partner outside Europe,” said Guibert.

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