Vietnam and Japan have agreed to start talks next year on a free-trade agreement that they hope will almost double their trade by 2010, with Hanoi pledging to improve its investment climate..
Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung laid the groundwork for the negotiations during a visit to Tokyo, where he was the first foreign head of government to meet in Japan with new prime minister Shinzo Abe.
The two sides agreed to launch talks in January on an economic partnership agreement, a joint statement said Thursday October 19..
“The two sides decided to facilitate favourable conditions for business circles of the two countries in the hope of expanding the two-way trade volume from 8.5 billion dollars in the year 2005 to 15 billion dollars by the year 2010,” it said..
Vietnam is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. It expects gross domestic product to expand by 8.2% this year and is expected to join the World Trade Organisation next month..
Dung, who is on his first official visit overseas since taking office in July, earlier promised to improve the investment climate in Vietnam..
“We will create favourable conditions so we can receive a flow of new investment from Japan in various fields including high-tech industries,” Dung said in an address to the Japanese parliament..
“For the Vietnamese government, strengthening cooperative ties with your country, the world’s second-largest economy, is our top priority,” he said..
Dung also asked Japan for continued financial aid, saying the assistance was helping the country build “facilities that have decisive meaning for the development of Vietnam.”.
Japan is the number two market for Vietnamese exports after the United States, according to Japanese foreign ministry data, and the fourth-largest exporter to Vietnam after China, Singapore and Taiwan..
Japan is the largest official development assistance donor to Vietnam, having pledged 11 billion dollars from 1992-2005, or about one third of total international aid to the country during that period, Vietnam says..
Abe accepted Dung’s invitation to pay an official visit to Vietnam next month, when he is among the leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum..
“We agreed to cooperate during the Apec meeting,” Abe told reporters after his talks with Dung. “We agreed to strengthen our friendly bilateral relations.”.
Abe is expected to use the Hanoi meet to hold summits with US, Chinese and South Korean leaders, with tensions over North Korea certain to be high on the agenda..
Japan feels particularly threatened by North Korea and has championed a hard line after Pyongyang said it had tested its first-ever atom bomb last week..
Vietnam, despite maintaining diplomatic relations with North Korea, a fellow communist state, said it supported enforcement of sanctions against North Korea..
In a joint statement, Abe and Dung “expressed their deep concerns” on North Korea and urged Pyongyang to return immediately to stalled six-nation disarmament talks..
In his address to parliament, Dung said it was “necessary for all the countries concerned to respectfully carry out” the UN sanctions resolution against North Korea’s nuclear development..
“We consistently maintain our opposition to any nuclear test and our support for denuclearisation of the region,” Dung said.