Vietnam's plan to join the
World Trade Organisation (WTO) has received a boost from one of its
biggest trading partners, the European Union (EU).
The support comes after
the country modified its proposals for membership.
trade director Antonio Parenti says the new offer is more realistic
and has a greater chance of winning acceptance from Vietnam's trading
The changes relate to
the level of trading tariffs, which have been lowered, and the degree
to which Communist Vietnam is opening up its economy.
Vietnam is spurred on
by regional competition, not least by China's recent WTO entry, and
the fact that its poorer neighbour Cambodia is expected to join next
The EU says the offer
on the table shows that Hanoi is now ready to enter serious
According to the
European negotiators, Vietnam's original proposal would have opened up
the services sector at a lower rate, in contrast to assurances made
almost a year ago to the United States under a bilateral trade
There are split views
on the benefits of the BTA to Vietnam. Some, particularly the US, say
it has given Vietnam a roadmap into the WTO.
Others believe Hanoi
has set itself a difficult precedent.
It is thought that no
other trading partner will now be willing to any accept trade
agreements that offer less than what Vietnam has already agreed with
The team of European
Commission officials is in Hanoi for negotiations on Vietnam's new WTO
bid, which was made three weeks ago.
The talks will centre
on the terms of Vietnam's entry to the WTO.
The officials are also
preparing for a major round of multilateral talks in Geneva in
December, the sixth round on Vietnam's efforts to join the WTO in the
next three years.
The EU is looking for
more ways to help Hanoi get the expertise required for the
It has been training
government officials and providing technical and research assistance.
It says Vietnam needs
to do more to prepare for what will ultimately affect everybody in the
Vietnam is cautiously
making the transition from a centrally planned economy to a player in
the global free market.
The problem is that
Vietnam appears to be both protectionist and liberal at the same time.