Free trade is the best route to prosperity and to boosting UK-Vietnam bilateral trade, the 11th meeting of the UK-Vietnam Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO), co-hosted by Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong and the UK Minister for Trade Policy Conor Burns on October 4 in Ha Long Bay heard. Talks focused on deepening the two countries’ trade cooperation in key sectors including education, healthcare, renewable energy, financial services, and agriculture.

In 2018, with $6.74 billion, up 9.5 per cent against 2017, the UK ranked third in Vietnam’s import and export turnover with EU countries. Vietnam ranks 38th out of the 241 trading partners of the UK and 25th out of 233 countries exporting to the UK. In ASEAN, Vietnam ranked second (after Thailand) in terms of exports to the UK, accounting for 0.8 per cent of total import turnover. In the first eight months of 2019, bilateral trade relations reached $4.53 billion (up 2.09 per cent year-on-year). Vietnam’s exports to the UK reached $3.08 billion, up 1.7 per cent, while its imports reached $557 million, up 4.84 per cent.

As at the end of August, the UK had 366 investment projects in Vietnam with capital of $3.64 billion, putting it 15th out of 132 countries and territories with FDI in Vietnam.

Vietnam has also been assessed by international organizations as having a relatively good investment environment, with it ranking ninth in investment attraction. The flow of foreign investment into the country has grown steadily, while its ranking in business investment environment and national competitiveness have made progress, ranking 77th out of 140 countries and territories.

Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Minister Vuong affirmed that after ten meetings, the Vietnamese Government as well as the business communities of the two countries have contributed to the success of JETCO meetings, helping to remove difficult barriers in trade exchange and creating a favorable business environment within the business communities of both countries. Issues discussed at JETCO 11 were practical and specific. The two sides will coordinate closely and attempt to thoroughly and effectively resolve the issues highlighted at this meeting, bringing relations to a new height.

Mr. Burns also said that Vietnam is a dynamic country with strong economic growth, and the UK will maximize its efforts to support the country so it can overcome the challenges of Industry 4.0.

The two sides discussed cooperation issues in various fields, such as market management activities and anti-smuggling activities, and cooperation in the fields of finance, customs, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals, etc. Regarding vocational education and training, the UK will promote English teaching and learning in Vietnam while considering recognition of certificates issued in Vietnam as well as developing occupational skills standards, supporting the training and capacity building of Vietnam’s vocational education and training teachers. For cooperation in the field of agriculture, the UK will consider the export and import of meat products between the two countries. In tourism, a representative office for Vietnam’s tourism sector will also be opened in London in the time to come.