The chairman of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee has appreciated Vietnam’s role in Southeast Asia and called for increased maritime security and trade cooperation.
David McAllister, speaking to the press in Hanoi, said: “Vietnam is one of the key partners of the European Union in the region. With its active role in ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian nations], Vietnam is a gateway for us to access Southeast Asia.”
He led a committee delegation on a two-day visit to Vietnam that ended Thursday aimed at strengthening relations between ASEAN and the EU and consolidating their strategic partnership.
The EU is interested in strengthening cooperation with Vietnam in areas such as maritime security, cybersecurity and crisis management, he said.
Ensuring safe and free shipping lanes in Southeast Asia benefits both Vietnam and the EU, he said.
He praised Vietnam’s “political commitment and regulatory adjustment” to deal with illegal, undeclared and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
“The two sides agreed to conduct a new assessment in 2023 to prepare for the possibility of removing the IUU yellow card on Vietnam.”
The European Commission slapped the “yellow card” in 2017 after a number of the country’s fishing vessels were found trespassing into other countries’ waters.
Vietnam is one of two ASEAN member states with which the EU has signed free trade agreements, he said, describing the European Union–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement as a significant step to strengthening the partnership.
“Ever since the EVFTA took effect in 2020, bilateral trade has increased sharply.
“Vietnam is the EU’s largest trading partner in ASEAN, and European companies are also among the largest foreign investors in Vietnam.”
Referring to security issues, he expressed deep appreciation for Vietnamese soldiers participation in the European Union Training Mission in the Central African Republic.
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