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Enhancing parliament cooperation's role in Vietnam-European Parliament, Belgium ties

National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue will make working visits to European Parliament (EP) and Belgium from September 8-9 after concluding a trip to Austria to attend the fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament (WCSP5).

Vietnam and the European Union celebrated the 30th anniversary of ties in November last year. Over the past three decades, the Vietnam-EU relations have grown rapidly from cooperation in a number of areas to a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).

The two sides have regularly exchanged high-ranking delegations, including EU visits by Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong in 2013, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in 2018 and NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan in 2019.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy visited Vietnam in 2012, which was followed by visits of European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso in 2014 and Vice President of the European Commission and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini in 2019.

Last year, despite the double crisis in health care and economy, both sides continued to realised their commitments with various cooperation activities in direct and online formats. They have coordinated closely in many areas, while supporting each other in COVID-19 fight.

The signing and ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which took effect on August 1, 2020, was a new historical milestone in the bilateral partnership.

The deal has helped bring about new breakthroughs and opening up new prospects for the Vietnam-EU partnership. Only five months after the agreement was put into operations, two-way trade had seen strong progress, with surges recorded in the export of Vietnamese products such as aquatic products, rice, garment and textile products as well as leather and footwear.

As of 2020, two-way trade reached 55.39 billion USD, of which 40.05 billion USD was Vietnam’s export revenue.

Currently, the EU is the third largest export market of Vietnam after the US and China, and the country’s fifth biggest import market.

Meanwhile, Vietnam is the 17th biggest trade partner of the EU and the 11th largest provider of goods of the union among Asian countries.

The EU is also the biggest investor in Vietnam and the leading provider of non-refundable aid for the country.

In the first seven months of this year, two-way trade hit 32.2 billion USD, with Vietnam’s exports valued at 22.5 billion USD, up 15.5 percent year on year.

The relationship between the Vietnamese NA and the EP has developed soundly, becoming an important pillar of the partnership between Vietnam and the EU. The two sides have set up bilateral friendship parliamentarians’ groups.

Chairman of the NA Committee for External Relations Vu Hai Ha said that during his upcoming visit to the EU, NA Chairman Hue will hold talks with the EP President, meetings with the President of the European Council and representatives of European parliamentarians from important committees of the EP such as Committee on International Trade.

Ha said that along with the EVFTA, the NA leader will discuss with the European side the hastening of the ratification of the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA).

Vietnam and Belgium have also enjoyed impressive growth in their bilateral partnership since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1973.

Belgium is one of the first European countries to engage in development cooperation with Vietnam. Since 1977, Belgium has provided soft loans and non-refundable aid worth nearly 300 million USD to Vietnam, 60 percent of which is non-refundable aid.

Total trade between the two sides reached about 3.1 billion USD in 2019 and 2.7 billion USD in 2020 due to impacts of COVID-19.

Belgium is currently the sixth biggest export market of Vietnam among European countries after Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, France and Italy.

Partnership among central and local economic agencies as well as sectors of Vietnam with three Belgian regions of Wallonie, Flanders and Bruxelles has been expanded.

As of July 2021, Belgium had 82 valid investment projects in Vietnam with total capital of 1.1 billion USD, ranking 23rd out of 131 countries and territories investing in Vietnam.

As scheduled, during his visit to Belgium, NA Chairman Hue will hold meetings with the Belgium Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Chamber of Representatives, as well as with leaders of some major firms of Belgium to seek ways to promote the growing collaboration between the two sides in all fields such as politics-diplomacy, economy-trade-investment, culture-education and particularly in medical and vaccine diplomacy.

The visits of the Vietnamese top legislator is expected to promote international cooperation in COVID-19 prevention and control, while affirming Vietnam’s efforts in working with other countries and the international community to maintain global supply and production chains as well as to seek solutions for sustainable post-pandemic economic recovery./.