Việt Nam attaches importance to ties with Belgium: PM

August 21, 2023 - 21:47
President of the Belgian Senate Stéphanie D'Hose is on an official visit to Việt Nam from August 21-25 at the invitation of National Assembly (NA) Chairman Vương Đình Huệ.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính (left) had talks with President of the Belgian Senate Stéphanie D'Hose in Hà Nội on Monday. — VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất

HÀ NỘI — The Vietnamese Government attaches importance to enhancing a deeper, substantial, and effective relationship with Belgium, which is a founding member with a significant voice within the European Union, Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính told President of the Belgian Senate Stéphanie D'Hose during a meeting in Hà Nội on Monday.

D'Hose is on an official visit to Việt Nam from August 21-25 at the invitation of National Assembly (NA) Chairman Vương Đình Huệ.

PM Chính hailed her visit on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties and the fifth anniversary of strategic partnership in agriculture.

According to him, Belgium is always among Việt Nam's top trade partners within the EU while Việt Nam is the biggest ASEAN trade partner of Belgium. Last year, two-way trade reached US$4.73 billion.

D'Hose wished that via the visit, Belgian Federal Parliament and the Vietnamese NA would set up a higher level of cooperation in order to reinforce friendship and links between the two countries, including the consideration of measures to remove trade barriers and foster collaboration in technology and innovation.

She also hoped that Việt Nam would issue favourable visa policies to make it easier for Belgian citizens and businesses to enter the country.

In reply, PM Chính said since August 15, Việt Nam has officially granted a 45-day visa exemption to citizens of certain nations entering the country, adding that he takes note of Belgium's proposal and will continue hasten this work.

To improve political trust and deepen bilateral coordination, he suggested both sides increase the exchange of delegations at all levels, especially those at high level. He called for close liaison at multilateral and international forums, particularly on issues of mutual concern such as conflict prevention, peacekeeping and climate change response.

In his view, both sides should maximise the advantages of the EU-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and strive to achieve a trade turnover of $7 billion in the next 2-3 years. He asked Belgium to continue facilitating the entry of Vietnamese traditional aquatic and agricultural products such as rice, coffee, and seasonal produce into the Belgian and EU markets.

The host also proposed the Belgian Senate accelerate the early approval of the EU-Việt Nam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) by the Belgian Federal Parliament, as well as the European Commission’s early removal of the yellow card warning against Vietnamese aquatic products.

Expressing appreciation for Belgium's supply of ODA to Việt Nam, the PM proposed further joint work in key areas such as clean agriculture, renewable energy, digital economy, green economy, and circular economy.

He also asked Belgium to assist Việt Nam in developing circular agriculture and smart agriculture, and implementing the National Strategy for Green Growth for 2021-2030, focusing on sustainable, eco-friendly and climate-adaptive development. Additionally, he suggested studying the establishment of a trilateral cooperation mechanism involving Việt Nam, Belgium, and an African partner to address food security concerns.

As one of the countries hardest hit by climate change, Việt Nam proposes that Belgium increase its support in terms of resources, finance, institutional building, and human resources training to fulfil commitments at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), as well as outline specific projects to help the country cope with climate change, especially in the Mekong Delta, with a focus on green development and saltwater intrusion combat, he said.

On the occasion, he suggested Belgium consider increasing the number of postgraduate scholarships for Việt Nam, especially in areas where Belgium has strength, such as transportation infrastructure, environment and tourism.

Agreeing with the PM’s proposals, the Belgian guest said both sides need to continue expanding exchanges and dialogues at all levels across various fields, with a particular focus on intensifying high-level exchanges to further broaden bilateral relationship.

She said the Belgian Federal Parliament is actively taking steps for the EVIPA ratification before June 9, 2024 when Belgium concludes its presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Belgium is also ready to assist Việt Nam in energy transition, agriculture, and addressing the consequences of chemical/dioxin contamination, he said.

On global and regional issues of shared concern, the PM proposed the European country back ASEAN's and Việt Nam's stance on the East Sea (known internationally as the South China Sea) issue, including ensuring safety and freedom of navigation and overflight, settling disputes peacefully in accordance with international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), toward formulating an efficient and effective Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC). — VNS