Vietnam and the EU concluded their bilateral deal for the former’s WTO membership recently after a week of negotiations in Hanoi, thereby giving a boost to Vietnam’s accession to the largest global trade bloc.

The deal was announced by Vietnamese Trade Minister Truong Dinh Tuyen and EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy at a joint press conference held at the International Media Centre (IMC) in Hanoi on the afternoon of October. 9.

“Today, the EU and Vietnam cement further their trade and economic relations. This deal brings Vietnam a step closer to the international trade family, the World Trade Organisation, where it belongs,” Pascal Lamy said, adding “It is highly symbolic that this deal is concluded in the margins of ASEM meeting, which gathers the EU and Asian family together, a sign of the EU’s commitment to Asia.”

“I am very happy that the EU, as the largest trading partner of Vietnam, is the first key partner to conclude such a bilateral deal. Given our special relationship with Vietnam, we have sought to act as a sponsor of its accession to the multilateral trade club,” the EU official told reporters, stressing “Our deal today unlocks the first door for Vietnam’s entry into the WTO.”

Lamy said: “The deal covers the commitments that Vietnam will undertake in goods and services once it accedes to the WTO. It will result in further opening of the Vietnamese market, building on the reform efforts undertaken by Vietnam over the last decade.”

The average tariff level that Vietnam will apply is around 16% for industrial goods, 22% for fishery products and 24 per cent for agricultural products, according to the bilateral deal.

In services, Vietnam will be taking commitments in a large range of sectors including transport, financial services, postal and courier, construction, distribution, environmental, professional and other business services, telecommunications and tourism. Commitments include cross-border provision of services and commercial establishment.

Vietnam applied to become a WTO member in January 1995.

As part of the WTO accession process, Vietnam is negotiating with other WTO members, including the US, Japan, China, Canada and Australia.

Concluding the press conference, Minister Tuyen said “Vietnam is trying its best to enter the WTO next year.” (VNA/Asia Pulse Pte Limited)