A footwear production line The forum was coorganised by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)’s Ho Chi Minh City Chapter and the EU Delegation to Vietnam . Last year, the EU surpassed the US to become Vietnam’s second largest trade partner and leading importer of Vietnamese commodities with total export-import turnover hitting about 29.09 billion USD, up 19.77 percent year-on-year. In the first three months of this year, two-way trade between Vietnam and the EU exceeded 6 billion USD, an increase of 26.18 percent over the same period last year. However, from next year, the EU will apply a new Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) system, under which a number of Vietnam ’s export items such as footwear, handbags and umbrellas entitled to GSP during the 2009-2013 period will no longer enjoy the treatment in the 2014-2016 period. The Director of the European Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Dang Trung Hai, added that apart from tax barriers, local enterprises should pay more attention to technical standards and food hygiene. On this occasion, experts from the EU Delegation presented practical solutions to help Vietnamese businesses make the best use of the Free Trade Agreement and build strategies for effectively penetrating the EU market. They advised local businesses to use the EU Export-Helpdesk, an online service offered by the European Commission to get accurate information about the market and partners in the EU.