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Delegation of the European Union to Viet Nam yesterday launched the Green Book 2011 which contains an analysis of Viet Nam's trade and economic performance in 2010 and the first quarter of 2011.

The Green Book is an annual publication that is jointly developed and publicised by the Ha Noi-based EU Commercial Counsellors. It provides an analysis of major developments and critical issues in Viet Nam's economy and key sectors.

This year's edition describes a relatively well performing economy in Viet Nam in 2010 despite heightened domestic and global economic uncertainty. The nation's annual growth of nearly 6.8 per cent exceeded the Government's target of 6.5 per cent, with significant increases in export revenues and industrial production value.

"The Government of Viet Nam deserves praise for taking decisive action to mitigate the negative impacts of the global economic crisis during 2009 and early 2010," said Jean-Jacques Bouflet, Minister Counsellor/Head of the Trade and Economic Section of the EU Delegation to Viet Nam, at the launching ceremony.

"However, pursuing a pro-growth approach into late last year despite signs of overheating has had a significant negative impact on the macro economic issues," Bouflet said.

The book points to weaknesses in the economy: double-digit inflation, dwindling foreign reserves, erosion of public confidence in the local currency and widening trade and budget deficits. This prompted the Government to adopt measures, including tighter fiscal and monetary policies, aimed at stabilising the economy.

He said the EU remained a strategic partner of Viet Nam in all aspects including trade, economics, investment and politics.

In terms of investment, despite the continuous decline of FDI (foreign direct investment) as a result of the global crisis, EU investors committed FDI worth US$2.25 billion in 2010, accounting for over 12 per cent of the total $18.6 billion, making it the second biggest investor in Viet Nam after ASEAN.

Viet Nam continued to enjoy a surplus of 4.9 billion euros (US$3.43 billion) in bilateral trade with the EU last year, a whopping 30 per cent rise from 2009, with exports increasing by nearly 38 per cent to more than 9 billion euros.

"Indeed, trade with the EU contributes to easing Viet Nam's overall trade deficit," Bouflet said, noting the EU continued to be the most important overseas market for Vietnamese footwear (1.75 billion euros), fishery products (739.2 million euros), coffee (794.2 million euros) and wooden furniture (720.5 million euros).

The EU was also the second biggest overseas market for Vietnamese goods, absorbing nearly 20 per cent of all products exported from Viet Nam last year.

However, Bouflet said most of the Vietnamese exports to the EU currently enjoyed the generalised system of preference – a programme designed to promote economic growth in developing countries by providing preferential tariffs.

This could be changed in the future, as the EU proposed modification in GSP application to the member states which if ratified would take effect in 2014, he said.

Bouflet urged the Vietnamese Government to negotiate the FTA (free trade agreement) with the EU, noting this was a very large and renowned market with over 500 million consumers.

"The bigger trade with the EU is, the larger trade surplus Viet Nam can enjoy," Bouflet said.

"Viet Nam's economic growth has arrived at a critical stage where the Government should clearly decide to implement pro-business policies in order to boost investor confidence and pursue its trade liberalisation efforts with a view to sustaining the momentum of development," he said.

Source: VNS/VNN