The UK is seeking a free trade agreement (FTA) with Vietnam which it hopes will help expand bilateral trade and investment ties, the British Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific said at an event in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday.
British Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field attended the launch of an initiative meant to support trading activities between the two countries as part of his January 2-3 visit to Vietnam.
At Thursday’s meeting, Field discussed the UK’s cooperation objectives with Vietnam for 2019, which include helping the latter complete the legal framework for anti-corruption in business, improving the business environment, and promoting transparent and sustainable growth.
For bilateral trade, the UK politician affirmed that the British government attaches great importance to Vietnam’s role in cooperation and development.
Accordingly, the European side has been proactively working on a negotiation roadmap to boost new bilateral cooperation mechanisms, including a potential FTA with the ASEAN region in general and Vietnam in particular, as a replacement for the EU-Vietnam FTA after Brexit.
“I am very optimistic about this partnership,” Field said.
He also spoke highly of Vietnam, noting that it is an attractive market of more than 93 million customers which received direct investments totally more than US$3.7 billion from British investors last year.
Vietnam – UK trade in 2018 was reported at $6.1 billion, according to Field.
On the same day, the British politician was also present at a signing ceremony for a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in implementing a future global city program that aims to turn Ho Chi Minh City into a smart city during the 2019-22 period.
The document was signed between the Office of the municipal People’s Committee and the Consulate General of the UK in Ho Chi Minh City.
The UK looks to continue to nurture its blossoming relationship with Vietnam in light of its upcoming withdrawal from the EU in March 2019.
Mark Field arrived in Hanoi on Wednesday and then came to Ho Chi Minh City to complete the first leg of his visit to Vietnam and South Korea.
This is Field’s third visit to Vietnam since January 2018.