Vietnam and the EU established diplomatic ties in 1990 and signed a framework cooperation agreement in 1995 and the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in Brussels in June 2012. Former Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan said relations between Vietnam and EU member states have developed remarkably over the years: “Vietnam-EU relations, particularly in trade have grown rapidly and steadily, meeting Vietnam’s goals. The EU is one of Vietnam’s top partners. While the US and China are among Vietnam’s biggest markets their cooperation with Vietnam has not been as broad as with the EU.”
The EU is currently Vietnam’s important partner in politics, diplomacy, development cooperation, trade, investment, science, technology, and dealing with global challenges. Vietnamese and EU leaders have expressed their aspiration to bring Vietnam-EU relations further. Franz Jessen, Head of the EU Delegation to Vietnam said: “Vietnam matters to the EU in a very positive sense. We welcome and we take great interest in Vietnam’s commitment to take on an increasing international responsibility. We hope that other countries in the world will learn from Vietnam. I believe that Vietnam and the EU share the view that the promotion of human rights and the rule of law is the striking force for development. Vietnam is currently at the center of many of the strategic shifts going on in Asia. We also look forward to continue to work with Vietnam as the ASEAN coordinator for relations with the EU over the next 3 years.”
Two-way trade between Vietnam and the EU reached 29 billion USD in 2012, up 20% from the previous year. The EU has become Vietnam’s biggest export market for footwear, garments, seafood, wooden, electronic and other consumer products. In the first two months of this year, bilateral trade increased 28% to more than 5 billion USD. Franz Jessen said the EU pledges 15 million Euros to help Vietnam implement economic, trade and investment activities as stated in the PCA: “On top of that, Vietnam and the EU economies are highly supplementary. We should build on the difference in our economic structures to further our economic relations. This is why we look forward to the trade and investment principles established in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement be complimented soon by the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The FTA and the PCA will help to bring 2-way trade and investment and our relations in these areas to a new level.”
The EU will formulate a Legal Partnership Program, which will provide 18 million Euros to support Vietnam in implementing the PCA in legal and judicial sectors.
The PCA is considered an important precondition for the establishment of future cooperation mechanisms, elevating Vietnam-EU relations to equal partnership, comprehensive and long-term cooperation for peace and development locally and abroad. Efforts by both sides to implement the PCA will open new prospects for cooperation between Vietnam and the EU.