Fico: We Back Swift Ratification of EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc at a meeting in Hanoi (photo by TASR)

Hanoi, July 18 (TASR-correspondent) – Slovakia favours the swift adoption of an international agreement on free trade between Vietnam and the EU, said Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico after meeting his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Vietnam on Monday.

“I’ve asked Premier Fico, as he’s the premier of the country that currently presides over the Council of the EU, to support the implementation of an EU-Vietnam agreement on free trade,” announced Phuc after the meeting.

Fico said that it’s in the interests of Slovakia as well as the EU to implement this agreement rapidly. “We’d like Slovakia to be one of the first to ratify this important and mutually conducive contract,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese Government praised the level of interest among Slovak firms in investing in Vietnam. “We welcome the investments of Slovak entrepreneurs in areas that are Slovakia’s strong suit,” stated Phuc, specifying power engineering, the food-processing industry, machinery and medical equipment production.

According to state-run Eximbanka general director Dusan Keketi, an EU-Vietnam free trade agreement would eliminate obstacles to business relations. “It would help to render trade more dynamic. Trade between Slovakia and Vietnam currently amounts to approximately $250 million annually (around €225 million), but the potential is far greater,” noted Keketi, adding that he would eliminate hurdles in the areas of employment, freedom of movement and visa regulations.

Several documents and memorandums have been concluded during Fico’s visit in order to boost Slovak-Vietnamese cooperation. Foreign and European Affairs Ministry State Secretary Lukas Parizek said that such agreements are essential for future cooperation, stressing that trade exchanges have multiplied 15 times since the reopening of the Slovak Embassy to Vietnam in Hanoi.

Eximbanka has signed several contracts as well. “They mostly concern the construction of pipelines between Laos and Vietnam. Another project concerns communal lighting,” explained Keketi.

The Vietnamese plan to propose various projects for cooperation with Slovak firms at a business forum that is taking place on Monday. “Despite the vast potential of Slovak-Vietnamese economic relations, there’s a need to introduce still more initiatives to keep this going,” said Fico, inviting Phuc to visit Slovakia.

Fico would like to propose setting up a joint economic commission in 2017 to oversee Slovak-Vietnamese relations.

Fico is still to meet Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang and representatives of the Vietnamese Parliament. He’ll then head for Vietnam’s fifth largest city of Danang.