EFTA European Free Trade Association : Parliamentary Committee visits Vietnam and the Philippines

Mr Svein Roald Hansen, Member of the Norwegian Parliament headed the EFTA delegation.‘Trade and investment are central to the economic growth of the EFTA States. For the last 20 years, EFTA has sought to improve trade relations with new and fast-growing markets. We are currently focusing on the dynamic Asia-Pacific region,’ said Mr Hansen.EFTA currently has 27 free trade agreements (FTAs) covering 38 countries, including several Asian partners, making it one of the largest free trade networks in the world.Strengthening trade relations with VietnamThe delegation spent two days in Hanoi, meeting with representatives of the National Assembly, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Industry and Trade, and Central Institute of Economic Management (CIEM). It also had the chance to meet with the International Labour Organization and business representatives during the visit.‘The EFTA States attach great importance to the ongoing free trade negotiations with Vietnam. An agreement between Vietnam and EFTA would set up a predictable legal framework for trade and investments, which are important for economic operators to prosper and for our economies to grow,’ said Mr Hansen said at the meeting with the National Assembly, External Affairs Committee.He also made the importance of Vietnam for the EFTA States clear, underlining that in 2015, trade between the parties had been worth over USD 2 billion, and that exports and imports between them had grown sharply over the past decade, indicating the potential for future growth in trade and investments (Trade statistics EFTA-Vietnam).Mr Hansen highlighted that the EFTA Parliamentary Committee believe that EFTA and Vietnam should now intensify the work and conclude the negotiations in order to provide for increased trade and investment.Ratification of FTA with the PhilippinesThe delegation also visited the Philippines. The EFTA States signed an FTA with the Philippines in April 2016 and the ratification process was high on the agenda for the Committee’s visit to Manila.‘With the agreement now signed, our meeting can hopefully contribute to its swift ratification, in which our respective parliaments play an important role,’ said Mr Hansen.He also underlined that an FTA with the Philippines, ‘one of the most dynamic economies in the East Asia region’ with a growth rate of over 5% in the past decade, was an important part of EFTA’s outlook to new and fast-growing markets. Over the last years, trade in goods between the EFTA States and the Philippines has remained stable and was worth almost USD 850 million in 2015 (Trade statistics EFTA-Philippines).Over three days, the delegation met with the Senate, the House of Representatives, and representatives of the Department of Trade and Industry.‘We are very pleased with the ambitious agreement that our governments have agreed on, and hope that it will enter into force rapidly in order to fulfil its economic potential,’ Mr Hansen said in the meeting with the Senate.Find more pictures from the visits here.EFTA – European Free Trade Association published this content on 10 October 2016 and is solely responsible for the information contained herein.
Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 10 October 2016 15:17:08 UTC.
Original documenthttp://www.efta.int/Advisory-Bodies/news/EFTA-Parliamentary-Committee-visits-Vietnam-and-Philippines-499706

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