UK-VN free trade deal a new beginning for bilateral ties: UK trade secretary
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc had talks yesterday in Hà Nội with UK trade secretary Elizabeth Truss, who was visiting to sign the agreed minutes on the conclusion of UK-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA) negotiations
“We have a profound trust in the bright prospects for co-operation between the two countries,” PM Phúc said, noting that there are many investment projects by the UK doing well in Việt Nam while there is ample room for growth in bilateral trade.
The Vietnamese Government always put a high priority on UK-led projects in Việt Nam, PM Phúc said, adding that the visit by the British politician would be a great opportunity for the two sides to discuss measures to foster bilateral ties.
UK trade secretary Truss expressed her delight to visit Việt Nam – now the third time she has been to this “wonderful country” – and to attend the signing of the agreement on concluding negotiations of the UKVFTA.
The deal would mark a new beginning in bilateral relations, she said, asserting that the two Governments would help facilitate the works post-negotiation as well as help the business community take advantage of the deal once it becomes effective.
She expressed her strong belief that the deal would bring practical benefits for both Việt Nam and the UK.
The UK trade secretary thanked Việt Nam for backing the UK’s participation in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), saying this serves as a vivid testament to Việt Nam’s commitment towards free trade amid the trend of protectionism in many countries.
The UK was determined to promote free trade and economic recovery especially given the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, she affirmed.
Truss said the UK was pursuing the goal of a green economy, evidenced by its hosting of the UN climate change summit COP26 in 2021 and the UK government’s commitment to the target of hitting net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
She said the UK was willing to help Việt Nam in building its National Power Development Plan VIII (for 2021-30) as the UK has plenty of experience in wind power development.
The UK trade secretary said she was impressed with the economic growth of Việt Nam during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she attributed to the free trade policies of the Vietnamese Government.
Truss said the COVID-19 pandemic had shown the global supply chains had been highly dependent on a few countries, and the UK was hopeful it could diversify its supply chains and investment activities via free trade agreements, adding that the UK considered Việt Nam a trusted and reliable partner.
The UK is seeking to enhance ties with Việt Nam not just in the health sector, especially pharmaceuticals, but also in green technologies, finance, digital economy and data, according to the secretary.
The Vietnamese Government leader said Việt Nam and the UK had a rich tradition of co-operation in many fields.
While the UK was still in the European Union (EU), Việt Nam and the EU signed the Europe-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), but now as the UK was leaving the bloc, Việt Nam and the UK should have their own bilateral FTA, Phúc said.
He also reiterated Việt Nam’s support for the UK to join the CPTPP and free trade in general.
PM Phúc said economic activities in Việt Nam were “robust and lively,” and the country had managed to maintain positive economic growth while keeping COVID-19 under control.
The Vietnamese Government leader stated the confidence between the two countries had stood the test of time and bilateral ties would certainly grow stronger.
Regarding COP26, PM Phúc said Việt Nam was committed to playing a responsible part in the global fight against climate change.
PM Phúc appreciated the UK’s stance on the maintenance of security and safety and freedom of navigation and flight in the South China Sea (known in Việt Nam as the East Sea).
PM Phúc extended his invitation for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to visit Việt Nam at the earliest possible time.