|Viet Nam's Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang and Andrey Slepnev, Minister for Trade of the Eurasian Economic Commission, signed the declaration in the southern province of Kien Giang, with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung acting as a witness. — VNA/VNS Photo Duc Tam
KIEN GIANG (VNS) — Viet Nam and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed a joint declaration yesterday announcing the end of negotiations on their free trade agreement.
Viet Nam's Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang and Andrey Slepnev, Minister for Trade of the Eurasian Economic Commission, signed the declaration in the southern province of Kien Giang, with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung acting as a witness.
The two sides kicked off their FTA talks in March 2013. After eight rounds of negotiation and many technical discussions, Viet Nam and the Customs Union have decided on the contents of the agreement, making high-level commitments to ensure both parties benefit equally.
The agreement covers trade, investment, rules of origin, trade remedy, customs facilitation, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, legal issues and institutional issues.
The Customs Union will provide Viet Nam preferential tariffs to facilitate more exports of produce, seafood, garments and textiles, footwear and wooden furniture.
Meanwhile, Viet Nam agreed to open its market according to several commodities from the union, including husbandry products, machines, equipment and vehicles.
The two sides are finalising some technical matters and will officially sign the agreement in early 2015.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Hoang and Slepnev both said that during the negotiation process, the two sides carefully considered each other's point of view.
The two leaders said that once it is operational, the agreement would help lift trade to a higher level. It would also reduce barriers, boosting bilateral investments and generating more jobs, they said.
PM calls for accelerated talks
Prime Minister Dung has urged negotiation delegations from Viet Nam and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan to finalise last-minute details so they can sign their free trade agreement in early 2015.
Dung held a reception yesterday in Kien Giang for Andrey Slepnev, Minister for Trade of the Eurasian Economic Commission and head of the Union's negotiation delegation.
Dung said the signing and implementation of the agreement will help lift relations between Viet Nam and the Union's member nations to a higher level. It will also help bring Viet Nam and Russia closer to their goal of reaching US$10 billion in trade revenue by 2020.
He said he believes that along with political, economic, trade and investment ties, the agreement is a foundation for both sides to forge links in other domains, such as education and training, science and culture.
Viet Nam always does its utmost to promote practical and effective co-operation with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan for mutual development and prosperity, Dung said.
For his part, Andrei said that aside from the negotiators' efforts, support from the two sides' high-ranking officials has played a vital role in concluding the FTA talks.
He said that when the agreement takes effect, it will serve as an effective tool for co-operation between Viet Nam and the Union.
Starting in 2015, the Customs Union will be called the Eurasian Economic Union, with the addition of Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. — VNS