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Portugal officials pledge to bolster ties with Vietnam

Senior officials of the parliament and government of Portugal have expressed the country’s strong commitment to substantively enhancing relations with Vietnam while meeting with a delegation of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) in Lisbon.

The delegation, led by Politburo member, Secretary of the CPV Central Committee and head of the CPV Central Committee’s Economic Commission Nguyen Van Binh, paid a working visit to Portugal on September 19 and 20.

At the working sessions with Vice President of the Portuguese parliament Jorge Lacao and Secretary of State for Internationalisation of the Portuguese Foreign Ministry Eurico Brilhante Dias, Binh highly valued the traditional relationship between the two countries, including the recent strides in bilateral cooperation. Particularly, their trade revenue topped 500 million in 2018, compared to just around 300 million USD several years ago.

He thanked Portugal for supporting Vietnam’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for 2020-2021 and the signing of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and Investment Protection Agreement (IPA).

The official also asked the country to continue advocating the ratification of these deals at the Portuguese and European parliaments. He expressed his belief that after being ratified, the agreements will open up a new chapter for trade, economic and investment ties between Vietnam and the EU, including in the industries Portugal has strength in like navigation, tourism, petrochemistry and mining.

Binh also took this occasion to inform the Portuguese side about the recent complex developments in the East Sea, calling on the country to back Vietnam’s stance on this issue.

For their part, Vice President of the Assembly of the Republic Jorge Lacao and Secretary of State of the Foreign Ministry Eurico Brilhante Dias pledged to substantively enhance the two countries’ relations, affirming that Portugal attaches importance to Vietnam in its strategy for promoting ties with ASEAN in not only economy but also people-to-people exchange.

The host officials also showed their support for Binh’s proposal on increasing the teaching of Portuguese language in Vietnam.

Regarding the East Sea issue, Jorge Lacao expressed his attention to ensuring trade and law compliance at sea. Meanwhile, Eurico Brilhante Dias shared the view that sea-related disputes should be settled through negotiations and dialogue.

The Secretary of State added as Vietnam will take over the ASEAN Chair in 2020 and Portugal will hold the EU Presidency in 2021, they will have numerous chances to strengthen cooperation between Vietnam and the EU, between Portugal and ASEAN, as well as between ASEAN and the EU.

At a meeting with representatives of the Portuguese agency for investment promotion and business support and some local enterprises, Binh talked about investment and business opportunities in Vietnam, along with the country’s economic advantages with a market of nearly 100 million people and as part of larger markets within the framework of ASEAN, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the EVFTA and some other FTAs.

In response, the Portuguese firms said they consider Vietnam a priority for cooperation with and want to carry out long-term investment and business operations there.

During the talks with permanent member of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP)’s Secretariat Jose Capucho and other senior officials of the party, Binh underlined Vietnam’s development achievements, preparations for the CPV’s 13th National Congress in early 2021, along with the escalation of tensions in the East Sea recently.

He asked the PCP to continue coordinating with the CPV in multilateral activities of political parties. He also proposed the PCP, with its stature and prestige in Portugal and the European Parliament, support the ratification of the EVFTA and the IPA.

Welcoming the CPV delegation, the PCP officials said the visit is an importance chance to intensify mutual understanding and friendship between the two parties and the two peoples. They also informed their guests about the PCP’s efforts to protect the interests of the working class in Portugal.

Discussing the East Sea situation, they expressed their party’s consistent support for Vietnam’s stance that is disputes must be resolved by negotiations and peaceful measures on the basis of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Following the trip to Portugal, the CPV delegation will visit Spain and attend the EU-Asia Connectivity Forum held by the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.