EU Thinks Vietnam
Can Join WTO by 2005
07.09.2004, 11:00 PM
The European Union's chief negotiator with
Vietnam says he believes Vietnam can join the World Trade Organization
"From our point of view, we think it is
perfectly possible for Vietnam to accede by the end of next year," said
Raffaele Mauro Petriccione, director of the European Commission's
Directorate-General for Trade.
"It requires considerable work. It requires a
lot of goodwill on the part of Vietnam and other WTO members. Certainly
we are committed to the process," he said Friday.
Petriccione was in Vietnam on a three-day trip
to negotiate the EU's bilateral agreements with Vietnam during its sixth
round of WTO talks.
Last month, the WTO said it wasn't optimistic
Hanoi would make its initial deadline of acceding by Jan. 1, 2005.
During Vietnam's most recent round of talks
with officials in Geneva, the WTO praised Hanoi for submitting a better
plan for trade liberalization, but said it still needs to amend its laws
and reach bilateral agreements with member states.
However, Petriccione said the EU's discussions
with Vietnam were very positive, and that it was possible for a
bilateral deal to be settled by year's end.
"Our experience is that countries who conclude
with one of the majors, like us or the United States, see a sudden
acceleration in their accession process," he said.
The 2005 deadline is particularly crucial for
Vietnam, since its textile and garment industry - the country's second
largest source of exports - is subject to quotas until it joins the
147-member world trade body. The quota system will be eliminated for all
WTO members by the end of next year.
Vietnam first applied for WTO membership in
1995. Under WTO rules, applicants must reach an individual trade deal
with any member that requests it and complete an overall package of
reforms to bring it in line with international trade law.