Vietnam would like Sweden to provide it with further assistance in cementing ties with the European Union (EU) and in negotiating the Vietnam-EU free trade agreement, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh said Wednesday. The Vietnamese leader made the appeal while meeting with Swedish Secretary of Foreign Affairs Frank Belfrage in Hanoi. Ninh expressed his gratitude to the Swedish parliament for its approval of the Vietnam-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. He also thanked the Swedish government and people for their valuable backing for Vietnam during its past struggle for national independence and reunification, as well as the present cause of national construction and development. Ninh welcomed Belfrage as the chair of the Hanoi conference of Swedish ambassadors in Asia, and described the event as a meaningful activity to mark the 45th anniversary of Vietnam-Sweden diplomatic relations.
The host conveyed his pleasure at the strong development in the two countries’ cooperation over the past years, citing two-way trade of over US$1 billion last year, up 24 percent from 2012. He also said that more than 60 Swedish companies are doing business in the Southeast Asian country, including several big names. In response, Belfrage said he believed the two countries will continue strengthening their comprehensive cooperation in the coming time. He also thanked the Vietnamese government for helping Sweden organize the conference of Swedish ambassadors in Asia.