Russia wants to develop free trade with Vietnam

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The Russian ambassador to Vietnam said at a press briefing in Hanoi Wednesday that developing relations with Vietnam will be a priority in Russia's diplomatic policies in Asia in the years to come.

Ambassador Andrey G. Kovtun said 2011 was an important year marking the implementation of trade agreements signed between the two countries in previous years, Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon Online reported.

Kovtun said the possibility of a Free Trade Agreement between Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Vietnam, will boost the commercial exchange value between the two countries.

Three rounds of discussion have been conducted among the parties involved, and official agreement terms are only the matter of the time, he said.

The ambassador said Russia wants to build free trade partnerships with ASEAN countries as well.

Figures from Vietnam Customs showed the export turnover from Vietnam to Russia reached US$1.18 billion as of the end of Novemver 2011, which was a 60 percent increase from the previous year.

Strategic exports included phones and components, textile and garment products, and seafood, which account for nearly 60 percent of the export value.

Meanwhile, Vietnam's imports from Russia decreased 33 percent from 2010 to US$612 million, mostly in petrol, iron and steel, machines and fertilizers.

Local experts list Russia as a potential market for Vietnam. Russia scored a GDP growth grate of nearly 4.5 percent, with more than 33 percent of export revenue increasing year on year in 2011, despite the global economic crisis.

The country also managed to contain inflation at under 7 percent and has the lowest public debt worldwide. Only 2 percent of that was foreign debt.

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