The Hanoitimes - “For many reasons this visit represents another important milestone in traditionally friendly relations between our nations which not only have exceptionally good past, but also excellent presence and very promising bright future”.
The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) lies among key issues to be discussed during the Vietnamese PM's ongoing trip to the Czech Republic this month, Czech Ambassador to Vietnam Vítězslav Grepl said when sharing his view on the visit.
The ambassador said that the visit of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to the Czech Republic is significant when looking from many perspectives as more than ten years have passed since the last visit of a Vietnamese head of government to the Czech Republic.
Czech's ambassador and Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc
Czech looks very much forward to the visit as there is a lot of positive topics to talk about and to naturally continue the interaction between the two prime ministers whose personal acquaintance started successfully at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January this year.
“For many reasons this visit represents another important milestone in traditionally friendly relations between our nations which not only have exceptionally good past, but also excellent present and very promising bright future”, Ambassador Vítězslav Grepl said.
Important trading partners
According to the ambassador, economic cooperation between the two nations is without doubt the most dynamic field of bilateral relations. Vietnam is one of the most important trading partners of the Czech Republic in South East Asia.
Two way trade has been growing steadily and the volume already exceeded US$1 billion. Last year, exports from the Czech Republic to Vietnam reached $140 million while exports from Vietnam to the Czech Republic amounted to more than US$1.03 billion. So there is strong interest from the two sides to further increase the economic cooperation both at government and corporate levels.
Both governments do their best to maintain high frequency of political contacts with the aim to mutually support trade and investment.
The visit of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc represents another important milestone in the relations between two countries because such high level delegation is accompanied by big companies looking for new business opportunities in Vietnam or the Czech Republic.
Ambassador Vítězslav Grepl emphasized that the potential to further increase investment flows between the Czech Republic and Vietnam is very high as well. Vietnam has tremendously improved the conditions for international investors over the past decade and has become an attractive investment destination for Czech companies. The Czech businesses have already invested more almost $100 million in 30 projects in Vietnam and the Czech side believes that this positive trend will continue.
The Czech side hopes that the successful stories of Czech investors in Vietnam, like Home Credit, Hydra or Elmich, will soon include another major Czech company Sazka, which is preparing its entry into the Vietnamese market.
The cooperation in science, R&D and innovations is a new and promising field of bilateral relations as well. The Czech Technology Agency together with the Science and Technology Ministry of Vietnam are currently working on development of joint research projects, which will help to create new linkages between the two economies.
Promisingly looming transfer of technology for the production of light trucks and buses through a joint venture between Czech automobile producer Avia and Vietnamese investor Thanh Dat Group in Danang is a very good example of these endeavors.
In the ambassador’s view, the cooperation in defense is another important pillar of economic relations. “We are glad that we can help Vietnam in modernization of its army and enhancing its defense capabilities. As a traditional producer and exporter of defense technologies, the Czech Republic is ready to continue its cooperation with Vietnam not only in the field of hi-tech supplies but also in the education of military personnel, including the training the pilots of its Air Force," the ambassador said.
Mining industry is also a traditional field of economic relations. Czech geological companies work with Vietnamese partners in prospection of mineral deposits in Vietnam and in training of Vietnamese specialists. The Czech Republic, a renowned producer of crystal glass, is willing to help Vietnam with the exploitation of high quality silica sands and modernization of its light glass industry.
Two sides' potentialites
Ambassador Vítězslav Grepl said that the EVFTA, which is expected to be signed this year, will have a wide-ranging impact on bilateral trade and investment thanks to tariff cuts and strong commitments both from the EU and from Vietnam. The most prominent benefits to be expected are an increase in the trade of goods promoted by the reduction or elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
“The EVFTA will put an end to 99 percent of customs duties on goods traded between the Czech Republic and Vietnam. Additionally, Vietnam’s commitments to ensure an open and transparent investment and business environment will help boost high quality investment from the Czech Republic into Vietnam.
As a very open, export-oriented economy and dedicated promoter of liberal trade, the Czech Republic is a strong supporter of the EVFTA and IPA (Investment Protection Agreement) and wishes to see it signed and ratified this year with no delay. Both Vietnamese and Czech governments share mutual understanding that these new agreements will highly contribute to strengthening their relations and help promote free, sustainable and rules-based trade as well”, the ambassador underlined
The Czech Republic belongs to the group of 28 countries within the EU, which repeatedly call for speeding up the approval process of the two agreements. The Czech Republic very much hopes that the internal policies of Vietnam will be conducive to free trade, predictable business environment and in line with international standards, the ambassador noted.