The agreement was made during the fifth meeting of the Vietnam-Belgium joint committee on economic cooperation, co-chaired by Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Vu Dai Thang and Belgian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Development Cooperation & Foreign Trade Bruno Vander Luijm, in Brussels on November 6.
During the event, both sides agreed that Vietnam and Belgium have enjoyed robust economic cooperation following their previous meeting in 2017.
Thang spoke highly of efforts made by the two nations to promote comprehensive cooperation across trade, investment, development collaboration, education-training, science-technology and agriculture.
Notable deals between the two countries include a strategic cooperation agreement on agriculture, and a bilateral cooperation deal between the Vietnamese Government and authorities of the Flanders region, which were reached during PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visit to the European country in October 2018.
Belgium is currently the sixth largest trade partner of Vietnam in the EU, with two-way trade in 2018 reaching US$2.88 billion, of which the trade value of agricultural produce accounted for US$413 million. Vietnam exports seafood, coffee, cashew, rice and wood products to Belgium, and imports milk and dairy products, animal feed and pesticide.
Vietnam has opened door for Belgian beef and pears, and Vietnamese fruit and vegetables have gained access to the Belgian market.
Thang and Luijm spoke highly of trade ties between Vietnam and Flanders, Wallonia-Brussels, and Brussels.
Regarding the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (IPA), Thang expressed his hope that Belgium, with its important role in the EU, will offer further support to encourage the EU to adopt the trade pacts.
In the framework of their strategic partnership agreement on agriculture, both sides reached a consensus on close coordination to facilitate trade, set up trade exchange mechanisms, and boost shipments of agricultural products. They also agreed to develop value chains for coffee, cocoa, husbandry, seafood and vegetables.
Touching on investment cooperation, Belgium ranked 23th out of 132 countries and territories investing in the Southeast Asian nation, with registered capital of US$1.03 billion in 70 projects as of September 30, 2019. Most of the projects are in real estate, water supply, sewage treatment, processing and manufacturing, and power production.
During the meeting, the Vietnamese side asked the Belgian Government and authorities of the Flanders, Wallonia-Brussels and Brussels regions to encourage more Belgian enterprises to invest in Vietnam. The Belgian side affirmed its interest in investment opportunities in Vietnam.
Regarding development cooperation, organisations in Vietnam and the Belgian Development Agency (ENABEL) had completed 12 projects using non-refundable capital funded by the Belgian Government under the Indicative Cooperation Programme (ICP) from 2011-2015.
The Belgian side said that bilateral development cooperation will open new collaborative channels for both nations through non-governmental organisations, regions, universities and research institutes.