EU offers positive outlook for VN   |  

HA NOI — The European Union could become Viet Nam’s main trading partner as a final export destination, said Sean Doyle, head of the European Commission (EC) Delegation to Viet Nam, in Ha Noi yesterday.

Doyle was speaking at a press conference to release EU’s Green Book 2008, which presents the annual assessment by the EC Delegation to Viet Nam and the EU Member States’ Trade Counsellors on the performance of the Vietnamese economy and selected sectors.

“We are happy to provide you with the Green Book 2008 at such an interesting state of development in Viet Nam. More than one year into WTO membership, important changes have been implemented. The economy grew at the record level of 8.48 per cent and FDI commitments peaked at US$20.3 billion.”

Doyle praised significant efforts of the Vietnamese Government in making the business environment more favourable for foreign investors, but noted that more openness of the economy and transparency of state operations were needed.

“Now it is important to keep the reform process up to make the best of the new opportunities and successfully cope with the arising challenges,” he commented.

Doyle said that red-tape and corruption were obstacles for Viet Nam’s ability to attract and implement more investment capital. He noted, however, that the Vietnamese Government has been aware of these issues and has worked to resolve them.

Important recommendations voiced in the report included limiting red-tape, which contributed to the 60 per cent gulf between FDI commitments and disbursement. The report also encouraged continuing the pace of trade liberalisation including the negotiations of Free Trade Agreements with major trading partners like the EU, and further strengthening of the intellectual property protection system to stay attractive for foreign investors and attract higher quality investment, especially in the technology sector.

Timely implementation of WTO commitments should also be given special attention, according to the report.

A full e-version of the Green Book can be downloaded from the EC Delegation website

In 2007, the EU maintained its rank as the second largest trading partner, closely following China, with a trading volume totalling $14.23 billion. The EU is Viet Nam’s second largest export destination, absorbing 19.32 per cent of Vietnamese exports, only second to the US at 21.43 per cent. The EU is also the country’s third largest import partner at 7.79 per cent, trailing China and Japan. EU imports from Viet Nam continued to concentrate on intensive-labour products. Footwear continued to be the biggest export sector for Viet Nam to the EU, followed by garments and textiles.

Last year, Viet Nam had approximately $5.66 billion in trade surplus with the EU. The EU is also the second largest investor in terms of implemented capital at about $5 billion, trailing Japan. — VNS