|Chairman of HCM City People's Committee Le Hong Quan meets Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon Magnus in HCM City. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu
HCM CITY (VNS) — Norwegian business representatives accompanying Crown Prince Haakon Magnus and his wife on their visit to Viet Nam told the local business community in HCM City yesterday that they expect the free trade agreement between Viet Nam and European Union to come into force this year.
Thomas Angell, executive director of trade at the Enterprise Federation of Norway (Virke) and chairman of the EFTA Consultative Committee, predicted that exports from Viet Nam to Norway would increase by around 10 percent a year.
He pointed out that over the last five years their trade had more than doubled.
With an FTA in place, with zero or lowered tariffs and benefits like market access, there was considerable potential for increased trade, he said.
Vibeke H. Madsen, CEO of Virke said there were several co-operation opportunities in Viet Nam.
"We want to buy Vietnamese goods and will buy even more in the future. Therefore, from my point of view, it is essential that EFTA and Viet Nam come to a free trade agreement this year."
Norway has signed FTAs with 27 countries and the experience showed that imports to Norway increased whenever an FTA came into force, she said.
Between 2003, when an FTA was signed, and 2005, imports from Singapore increased by 80 percent. Imports from Chile and Peru increased by roughly 50 percent in a three-year period.
Also in the meeting, Norwegian business delegates urged Viet Nam to raise awareness of sustainable development among the businesses and mobilise them for action.
Madsen said there was a great need for economic growth with less environmental impact.
"By 2050 nine billion people are expected to be competing for a limited supply of natural resources globally, and the business community needs to face this challenge," she said, adding sustainable development was one of the biggest challenges now.
Pham Hoang Mai, director general of the Ministry of Planning and Investment's Department of Science, Education, Natural Resources and Environment, said that by 2020 Viet Nam could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8 – 10 per cent compared to 2010, but with international support, it could achieve 20 percent.
To implement a green growth strategy, the country would need around US$30 billion by 2020, he said, adding that currently the government spent $1 billion annually on climate change-related projects and programmes.
Haakon inaugurated the new office of the Norway-based DNV GL at the Bitexco Financial Tower in District 1.
DNV, which has had a presence in Viet Nam since 1995, acquired GL in September last year to become the world's leading ship classification society and one of the world's leading risk and sustainability service providers. — VNS