Vietnam supports close ties with China

Vietnam is calling for more cooperation with China to promote the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which is expected to become one of the world's largest free trade zones.

"The Vietnamese government supports and is very active in advancing economic ties with China. We hope that both sides can propose more initiatives to boost bilateral trade and investment coordination, including the RCEP," Tran Quoc Khanh, Vietnam's deputy minister of industry and trade, told China Daily.

Set to include the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand, the RCEP will create a regional free trade zone of 3 billion people with a combined GDP of more than $20 trillion (S$25 trillion), making it one of the biggest free trade zones in the world.

The second round of negotiations on the partnership ended in Australia in September, and the third round will be in January in Malaysia. The deal is expected to be concluded by 2015.

Khanh said that given the many challenges and problems facing the world and regional economies, China and ASEAN should make greater efforts to create favourable market conditions for entrepreneurs from both sides and launch more initiatives in dealing with common problems, including trade imbalances, to maintain long-term and sustainable development for bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

Zhang Jianping, a researcher at the National Development and Reform Commission, said Beijing sees the RCEP as beneficial. "China is open and flexible in the RCEP talks on goods trade in considering the country's developed manufacturing industry," he said.

As Vietnam's largest trading partner, China has been exporting shoes, textile goods and electronic products to the country. In 2012, bilateral trade volume registered $50.4 billion, a year-on-year increase of 25.4 per cent. China's exports to the country grew by 17.6 per cent to $34.2 billion, according to the Department of Asian Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce.

The two countries plan to increase bilateral trade to more than $60 billion by 2015.

China's nonfinancial investment to Vietnam was $330 million in 2012, and such investments from Vietnam in China was $120 million.

Chinese investment in Vietnam includes the electrical, transportation and chemical sectors. By the end of 2012, Chinese enterprises had signed construction contracts worth $26.7 billion in the Vietnamese market and registered a turnover of $16.8 billion. Construction contracts signed in Vietnam in 2012 were for $3.85 billion.

In recent years, capital inflow from China has also expanded from the manufacturing sector to the service industry in the country. In addition, China offered Vietnam multibillion-dollar export credits.

During the 10th China-ASEAN Expo, held in Nanning in September, Vietnam was the most active participant, with the most exhibitors and attendance among the ASEAN member countries.

"The China-ASEAN Expo is a good platform for us to introduce our good operating environment and sell a variety of high-quality Vietnamese products to China and other ASEAN members," Khanh said.

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