(VOV) – Vietnamese and European Union experts made proposals at a joint forum in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday to facilitate business operations and raise bilateral trade ties. Experts from the European Union Delegation to Vietnam introduced new approaches to the value chain to capitalise on the free trade agreement (FTA) once it is signed between Vietnam and the EU. They also presented new ways of developing business strategies to Vietnamese businesses to effectively penetrate the demanding EU market. A Ministry of Industry and Trade representative said with the ministry’s assistance, Vietnamese businesses have kept abreast of the generalized system of preferences (GSP) of the EU in the 2014-2016 period. Accordingly, exports such as footwear, handbags and umbrellas will no longer enjoy GSP as of January 1, 2014. Technical specifications and food safety are major barriers to Vietnamese commodities to be exported to the EU. In 2012 the EU overtook the US to become Vietnam’s largest goods importer and second largest trade partner, with two-way trade reaching 29.1 billion USD.