The first round of talks on the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) officially kicked off in Hanoi Monday.
Sixty experts from Vietnam and the EU, led by Vietnamese deputy minister of industry and trade Tran Quoc Khanh and Mauro Petriccione, a trade official of the European Commission are participating in the first round.
As scheduled, the two sides will hold three other rounds by 2013, and are expected to conclude negotiations in 2014.
Vietnam hopes the FTA with EU will enable domestic businesses to strengthen their presence in the European market and provide an opportunity for local consumers to purchase EU products at cheaper prices.
The agreement will require Vietnam have its legal framework on par with international standards.
Last year, Vietnam was the EU's fifth largest trade partner among ASEAN member countries, with bilateral trade turnover reaching EUR18 billion (US$23.2 billion), including EUR12.8 billion from Vietnamese exports.
In the first half of this year, the EU was the second biggest market for Vietnamese exports with EUR7.3 billion ($9.4 billion) in total value, accounting for 17.14 percent of the nation's total export turnover.
The EU is currently among the largest foreign investors in Vietnam, with total investments estimated at EUR1.4 billion ($1.76 billion), making up more than 12 percent of the country's total registered foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2011.