|Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (first right) and other leaders sign a Free Trade Area agreement between Viet Nam and the Eurasian Economic Union in Kazakhstan's Burabay District yesterday. — VNA/VNS Photo Duc Tam
BURABAY (VNS) — Viet Nam and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) yesterday signed a free trade agreement (FTA) that officials said would boost both individual and collective co-operation between the two sides.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said Viet Nam would do its utmost to boost relations between the union and Viet Nam even as it continued negotiations for similar agreements with other partners.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the agreement, an important deal desired by both sides, would contribute greatly to the economic development of every country involved.
In May, 2014, in Kazakhstan's capital Astana, the Presidents of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan had signed an agreement to form the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which came into being on January 1, 2015.
The Viet Nam-EEU FTA is expected to foster a stable and favorable legal framework for economic development of signatories.
Economists have noted that the agreement stipulates open customs regulations. While tariff reductions and exemptions are mandated for listed commodities, each country can maintain customs protections for their most sensitive commodities.
It has been reported that nearly 100 per cent of Viet Nam's fisheries exports to the Eurasia Economic Community will enjoy a zero per cent tax rate. The same rate will also apply to 80 per cent of the country's garments, textiles, leather and footwear exports to the EEU.
For the EEU's high priority commodities like iron, steel, and certain types of industrial and agricultural products, Viet Nam has agreed to remove import taxes. It has also agreed to a gradual opening up of its market for certain categories of agricultural products.
The free trade deal covers more than 90 percent of all goods traded between the EEU and Viet Nam.
By signing the FTA, the EEU aims to increase its trade turnover with Viet Nam to at least $10 billion in five years from $4 billion in 2014.
Prime Minister Dung said that the free trade agreement (FTA) between Viet Nam and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) was a modern, comprehensive deal that has the needed flexibility and balance of benefits.
Meeting with Viktor Khristenko, Chairman of the Board of the Eurasia Economic Commission, on the occasion of the FTA's signing, he also said that it was a breakthrough in economic-trade ties between the two sides.
Sharing the PM's assessment, Khristenko expressed his hope that Viet Nam would serve as a bridge linking the EU with ASEAN member states.
Both leaders said they believed the FTA would create a foundation for the EAEU to bolster trade and investment connections with Viet Nam and the Southeast Asian region in particular, and the Asia-Pacific region in general.
Viet Nam and the EAEU began negotiations on the bilateral FTA on March 28, 2013.
The Eurasia Economic Union comprises Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.
Viet Nam – Russian ties
Dung also met yesterday with his counterparts from Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Belarus.
In talks held with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Dung said he was pleased that the members of the EAEU were finally able to agree on the content of the Free Trade Agreement.
Medvedev responded that implementation of the agreement would boost economic and trade ties between all parties and enhance the strategic partnership between Russia and Viet Nam.
In his meeting with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Dung said he was delighted at the recent growth in bilateral ties.
The two leaders agreed that the sound political and diplomatic relationship between the two countries has promoted economic, trade and investment ties.
The Vietnamese PM said implementing the FTA would also lay the foundation for expanding co-operation in areas of strength for both countries.
The two leaders agreed to study each other's respective markets better in order to maintain and strengthen co-operation in key sectors, especially oil and gas exploration and exploitation.
They pledged support for the Viet Nam Oil and Gas Corporation and the Kazakhstan Oil and Gas Corporation to jointly explore and exploit oil and gas in both countries.
Referring to the East Sea issue, President Narzabayev said he supported the peaceful resolution of disputes towards maintaining peace, stability, security and safety of navigation and aviation in the region.
Potential not met
Also yesterday, Dung met with Belarus' Premier Andrei Kobyakov, who said the current two-way trade turnover of $170 million between the two countries did not match existing potential.
Kobyakov said Belarus hoped to participate in Viet Nam's socio-economic development projects and programs. He said Belarus was particularly interested in Vietnamese seafood, tobacco, coffee, tea, medicines and rice.
Noting that Viet Nam and Belarus enjoyed a long-standing friendship, Dung said: "We attach great importance to the development of all-round relations with Belarus, especially in economy, investment and tourism."
In another meeting with his Armenian counterpart Hovik Abrahamyan, Prime Minister Dung suggested that Viet Nam and Armenia establish an inter-governmental committee on economic-trade and scientific-technological co-operation.
Dung said Viet Nam always appreciated Armenia's support to its national liberation and development, adding that generations of Vietnamese people studying in Armenia have been contributing greatly to their homeland's national construction.
He continued to say that ministries and sectors of the two countries need to coordinate closer to make substantive improvements in their cooperation, especially when the FTA officially takes effect.
The two leaders agreed to focus efforts on building implementation mechanisms for the trade deal with a view to optimizing incentives offered by the deal to boost trade-economic ties, while continuing to improve legal frameworks for bilateral collaboration.
The Vietnamese PM specifically stressed the need to resume bilateral partnership in education-training which is a traditional cooperation area and urged the signing of an inter-governmental agreement on this field. — VNS