Over 200 European and Vietnamese enterprises, including heavyweights Siemens Vietnam, Bosch Vietnam, Piaggio Vietnam, and ABB attended the Meet Europe 2018 conference held recently in Hanoi. Reflecting the importance and potential of the event, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc addressed the participants and underscored opportunities for the development of Vietnamese-European relations.
Phuc said that the EU has been a close friend during the last 30 years of renovation in Vietnam and is currently its second biggest export market. The EU is also the biggest foreign direct investor in Vietnam with total capital of almost US$25 billion, and its largest grant aid provider. Two-way trade between Vietnam and the EU has increased by almost five times during the last 10 years, exceeding US$50 billion in 2017.
According to Phuc, the government of Vietnam appreciates the EU business community represented by more than 2,000 companies in the country. He also said that the EU’s advantages in terms of capital, management and technology meet Vietnam’s needs for development in various areas including infrastructure, seaports, airports, urban transport and energy.
Phuc expressed his pleasure with the results of a survey conducted by the European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham) indicating that 90 percent of European firms intend to maintain and expand their operations in Vietnam. Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son said that the upcoming conclusion of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and an FTA with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) are expected to create new engines for the two sides to make the most of their potential and opportunities.
Son emphasized that the government of Vietnam is taking steps to refresh the investment environment and ensure that foreign companies in general and European companies in particular can operate in a stable, effective and long-term manner in Vietnam.
Affirming that Vietnam is one of the EU’s most important partners in ASEAN, Ambassador Bruno Angelet, Head of the EU Delegation to Vietnam, pledged to motivate EU businesses to invest in Vietnam, seek new investors, share experiences and support Vietnam in implementing its sustainable development goals and coping with climate change. According to Bruno Angelet, the EVFTA, which is scheduled for conclusion at the end of this year, would not only help Vietnam increase the scale and quality of its economy but also make it a gateway and a production hub for European investors in ASEAN.
However, to make it happen, the two sides need to display cooperation and carry out needed changes and reforms. More than 70 meetings between representatives of European companies and leaders of provinces, cities and the government of Vietnam were held within the framework of the conference, in an effort to create business opportunities and promote European investment in the country.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc intends to attend the 12th ASEM Summit in Belgium this coming October where he expects to find opportunities for Vietnam to enhance relations with Europe and discuss progress on the EVFTA to facilitate cooperation between Vietnamese and European businesses.