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Switzerland hopes for early signing of Vietnam-EFTA trade deal
Hai Yen 11:29, 2019/07/11
Vietnam’s Prime Minister requested the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) bloc to take a more practical approach during the negotiation process, particularly in trade, government procurement and intellectual property rights.
A free trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is expected to be signed soon in the interests of both parties given progress in the negotiations, according to Guy Parmelin, Switzerland’s economic minister. 
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Guy Parmelin, Switzerland’s economic minister.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Guy Parmelin, Switzerland’s economic minister. Source: VGP.
EFTA members are willing to listen to Vietnam’s proposals regarding the deal for a soon conclusion of the negotiation towards the signing, Parmelin said in a meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on July 10. 

According to Parmelin, Swiss investments in Vietnam are growing, ranking sixth among West European countries in Vietnam, and creating thousands of jobs. 

PM Phuc expressed thanks to Switzerland for its support for Vietnam to become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2020 – 2021 term. 

Phuc expected Parmelin’s visit to Vietnam would create new opportunities for cooperation between the two countries, as well as the EFTA. 

Investment from Switzerland to Vietnam remains modest, which are not up to the huge potential of the two countries, Phuc added. 

The two countries should move towards a more balanced in trade, as Vietnam still records trade deficits with Switzerland, one of the country’s top trade and investment partners in Europe, Phuc asserted. 

Vietnam’s government has been improving its business environment towards greater transparency and convenience for foreign companies, including Switzerland, to commit long-term business in the country. 

Phuc noted Swiss companies with strong expertise on finance-banking, insurance, manufacturing, pharmacy, tourism, among others, could invest in similar fields in Vietnam. 

The Vietnam’s PM said Vietnam and the EFTA have narrowed differences during the process of negotiating FTA, requesting the bloc to take a more practical approach in the process, particularly in trade, government procurement and intellectual property rights. 

Phuc also urged parties to not let the potential trade deal between Vietnam and EFTA to lag behind the EU – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which was signed in Hanoi on June 30. 

Vietnam has been a member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans – Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which promised positive results for all parties involved. 

Additionally, Phuc highly regarded Switzerland's ODA for Vietnam for poverty reduction, rural development, and human resources training, helping Vietnam achieve some Millennium Development Goals ahead of schedule. 

Phuc requested Switzerland to share experience on developing high quality workforce, considering it a foundation for development. 
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