Thursday, March 4, 2010

EU and Vietnam: free trade with conditions?

The European Union will soon begin talks on free trade agreements with Vietnam. The European Trade Representative, Karel de Gucht,currently on a visit to Hanoi, said that he had made the offer to the Minister of Industry there. De Gucht is also due to meet the Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung.

The European Union is Vietnam's second largest trade partner after the United States. Its main exports include footwear, garments and sea food.

ASEAN and EU : Potential for Trade

Trade between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) and the EU rose by 25 percent between 2004 and 2008 to 175 billion Euros annually. Though ASEAN is EU's largest trade partner after the US and China, initial efforts by the EU to launch negotiations on a free trade agreement with ASEAN as a whole have been unsuccesful.

According to De Gucht, negotiations with ASEAN as a bloc were not feasible because of the different levels of development of the member countries' economies. The European Union, he said, would focus on trade agreements with individual countries instead . De Gucht is also travelling to Singapore on Wednesday to launch further negotiations for free trade agreements.

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