|President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu
HCM CITY (VNS) — The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, yesterday encouraged Viet Nam to pursue more "openness" and further economic reforms during a meeting held in HCM City with members of the European business community here.
Commenting on his meeting with the Prime Minister and other top officials in Ha Noi on Monday, the EC president said the nations's leaders showed a willingness to deepen political and economic relations with the EU.
He said the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement, apart from its investment provisions, would contribute to the modernisation of Viet Nam.
"I really believe in the potential of Viet Nam. And Viet Nam and the EU have much to gain from working closely with each other, whether on political or economic matters," said Barroso, who visited HCM City for the first time.
"Capabilities already exist here, but can be further enhanced," he added.
"Viet Nam has moved from rigidity and control to openness and flexibility, allowing room, first, for domestic private enterprises and then for foreign investment, and gradually a greater role for market forces in more and more parts of the economy," he said.
Barroso, however, said that EU and Viet Nam are only "scratching the surface of this relationship" and that the FTA would create a partnership for the long term.
"Those who prosper in the coming decades will be those who embrace openness, and take advantage of its opportunities. The recent history of Viet Nam is an example of what can be achieved by open government," he added.
|President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso (L) meets with members of the European business community in HCM City yesterday. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu
In reply to a question about progress of the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement, the EC president said: "I think substance is more important than speed."
"In October, we would like to announce a breakthrough in negotiation, but, to be honest, I don't think it's possible to have all the details completed by then. We have to be clear that this trade agreement has mechanisms to be implemented, to be rightly enforced. So it goes beyond WTO. It is WTO-compatible, but it's WTO plus. It's beyond WTO," he said.
When a British businessman asked Barroso about corruption and bribery, Barroso said: "This is a problem that affects this country and other countries in the region. Certainly, this is something the country has to face since it is in the interest of the country itself."
"Generally speaking, an FTA can have an overall contribution to the country. The Prime Minister is looking to the FTA as a way of modernising the country, upgrading some structures, so this is something I hope will help address some of these problems," he said.
After the meeting with European and Vietnamese enterprises, the EC president met with Le Hoang Quan, the chairman of HCM City's People's Committee.
EU is one of the largest foreign investors in Viet Nam with a total of EUR495 million in 2013. — VNS