|Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (left) meets his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel yesterday in Brussels. — VNA/VNS Photo Duc Tam
HA NOI (VNS) — Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel agreed on ways to strengthen bilateral ties across politics, economics, culture, education-training, and science-technology during their talks in Brussels yesterday.
Looking back on trade and investment ties, they said bilateral trade saw good growth, hitting US$2.3 billion last year and $1.6 billion in the January-September period, and Belgium's investment in Viet Nam amounted to $420 million in 59 projects.
However, the two PMs said, there is some room to improve these ties given the potential and aspirations of both countries.
Both sides agreed to accelerate the building and implementation of projects in the fields of logistics, transport, green growth and outer space, while further facilitating imports of each other's goods.
The Belgian PM suggested steering bilateral development cooperation towards climate change mitigation.
He congratulated Viet Nam and the European Union (EU) on officially concluding negotiations on their free trade agreement (FTA).
Host and guest consented to join hands to boost Viet Nam-EU ties, push forward the EU's ratification of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and the early signing of the Viet Nam-EU FTA.
\PM Charles Michel also congratulated Viet Nam on its election to the United Nations Socio-Economic Council for the 2016-2018 tenure.
The two PMs pledged to continue working closely together at the UN, the ASEAN, the Asia-Europe Meeting and the International Francophone Organisation.
Touching upon regional and global matters of shared concern, the Belgian PM stressed that Belgium supports the settlement of the East Sea issue by peaceful means in line with international law, the UN Charter, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, towards reaching a political and legally-binding agreement among parties concerned.
The host believed that the visit by the Vietnamese PM would deepen friendship and all-around collaboration between Viet Nam and Belgium for the sake of peace, stability, cooperation and prosperity in the region and the world.
The Vietnamese PM, for his part, thanked the host for his support of bilateral links in the past and invited the Belgian government leader to visit Viet Nam in the foreseeable future.
President of the Lower House of Belgium Siegfried Bracke and Senate President Christine Defraigne said they support measures to enhance Belgium-Viet Nam ties that the two Prime Ministers agreed upon during their meeting in Brussels on the same day.
Prime Minister Dung held separate meetings with the two leaders of the Belgian parliament following his talks with Prime Minister Charles Michel.
During the meetings, PM Dung spoke highly of the Belgian Senate and Lower House's role in promoting Viet Nam-Belgium ties as well as their contributions to the success of the 132nd Assembly of the World Inter-Parliamentary Union that was held in Ha Noi last March.
Siegfried Bracke stressed that the Belgian Lower House attaches importance to improving the efficiency of and further expanding cooperation with Viet Nam to match each one's potential and aspirations.
The Senate President, for her part, hailed the visit and outcomes of talks between the Vietnamese PM with his Belgian counterpart and parliamentary leaders as the manifestation of the close political ties between the two countries.
The hosts affirmed their support of the strengthening of the Viet Nam-European Union comprehensive partnership, the EU's early ratification of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement with Viet Nam, recognition of Viet Nam as a market economy as well as the early signing of the Viet Nam-EU free trade agreement.
EU-Viet Nam FTA
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday also witnessed the signing of an announcement on the official conclusion of negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement (EVFTA) between Viet Nam and EU.
According to the agreement, the EU will erase the import tax for about 85.6 per cent of the taxed goods, equivalent to 70.3 per cent of Viet Nam's export value to the EU.
The figures will increase to 99.2 per cent and 99.7 per cent, respectively, after the FTA has been implemented for seven years.
For the remaining 0.3 per cent of Viet Nam's export value to the EU, the EU pledged to grant Viet Nam tariff quotas, of which the import tax will be reduced to zero per cent.
For key sectors such as textiles and garments, footwear and seafood (excluding canned tuna and fish balls), the EU will erase the entire import tax for these Vietnamese exports after the FTA has been implemented for seven years.
In return, Viet Nam pledged to reduce taxes to zero per cent for EU's cars and motorbikes exported to Viet Nam after the FTA has been implemented for nine or 10 years.
For EU's products of wine, alcohol, beer, pork and chicken, Viet Nam agreed to erase most of the import tax after the FTA is enacted for ten years at most.
Regarding the export tax, Viet Nam pledged to abolish most of the export tax which will be implemented according to a set road map, and only to maintain the export tax on some key commodities, including crude oil and coal.
In other issues related to commercial goods, Viet Nam and the EU agreed upon customs procedures, issues of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS), Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), trade protection and others, making a legal framework for cooperation between the two sides and providing favourable conditions for their businesses' import and export activities.
In the fields of trade, services and investment, Viet Nam and the EU pledged to create an open, favourable environment for investment from both sides.
In terms of the governments' procurement, Viet Nam and the EU agreed upon content similar with those of the WTO's Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA).
EVFTA also comprises chapters related to competitiveness, state enterprises, sustainable development and cooperation in building capacity and legal, institutional issues. This content conforms with Viet Nam's current laws and legal regulations, providing a legal framework for the two sides to strengthen cooperation and speed up bilateral trade and investment.
PM meets PCF
Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dung met with representatives from the French Communist Party (PCF) and French enterprises.
Meeting with PCF National Secretary Pierre Laurent, the Vietnamese leader offered his deepest sympathies to the French people after the recent terror attacks in Paris.
He said in the previous meetings, the French President, PM and Speakers of the Senate and Lower House expressed their willingness to develop the two countries' relations.
Pierre Laurent spoke highly of the Southeast Asian country's contributions to the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21), adding that it is necessary to ensure both development and environmental protection in coping with climate change.
Also in Paris, PM Dung received executives of the Electricity of France Group (EDF), Paris Airports Group (ADP), Perenco Oil and Gas Company, Technip Construction – Design Company, and Accord Group. They are major businesses in France that have operated in Viet Nam and are planning to expand these operations. — VNS