Vietnam and the European Union are close to clinching a significant agreement which will bring the two bodies closer together.
EU companies are transforming into stellar business partners within Vietnam’s industrial landscape James Moran, head of the EU’s negotiation team, said good progress was made and both sides had agreed to more than 80 per cent of the total 60 articles in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), during the eight round of negotiations.
Moran, who is also Asia director in the European Commission Directorate General for External Relations, led the EU delegation including representatives from EU headquarters, the EU in Hanoi delegation and EU member state representatives.
The two sides discussed important articles of the PCA, including general principles, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, migration as well as remnants of war, legal cooperation, small arms and light weapons, market economy status, generalised system of preferences (GSP), taxation, labour and employment.
“We are on the homestretch of negotiations. I am confident that we [both sides] will be able to conclude negotiations later this year,” Moran said. Political, security, immigration, labour and economic issues needed further work, said Moran.
“This time we have not concluded the migration issue yet. We certainly have a little bit more to do by finding a suitable compromise about legal and illegal migration,” he said. “We do need to find a way where we can better manage problems of illegal migrations on both sides,” Moran said.
Vietnam and the EU started PCA negotiations in June 2008, to update the expired bilateral Cooperation Agreement that Vietnam and the European Community signed in 1995, which was not modern enough.
The new agreement will promote a more mature and comprehensive Vietnam-EU relationship and strengthen bilateral cooperation in a wide range of sectors beyond traditional development aid and commercial ties.
In a recent meeting to review Vietnam’s international integration works in the first half of 2010 held recently in Hanoi, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem instructed the Vietnamese negotiation team to accelerate talks to enable both sides to reach the PCA deal in October in Brussels, where Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will attend the 8th ASEM Summit.
“I certainly hope that both sides will be able to conclude the PCA negotiations this year. It will be a wonderfully symbolic benchmark for the Vietnamese and European people to see just how far bilateral relationship have come,” Moran said.
Vietnam and the EU will celebrate their 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations in November, 2010.