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Sep 30, 2020 / 11:10

UK foreign minister seeks trade deal in Vietnam visit

Both Vietnam and the UK are looking for a trade deal after Brexit.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is scheduled to visit Vietnam from September 29 – 30 to hold talks with his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh, with a trade deal at the top of the agenda ahead of the ending of the transition period for Britain's exit from the European Union this year, Nikkei Asia reported.

 UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to seek a trade deal with Vietnam in two-day visit. Photo: Reuters. 

Britain hopes to strengthen economic ties with Asia-Pacific countries and expand trade beyond Europe after Brexit.

Vietnam approved a free trade deal with the EU in June and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement came into effect in August. Without a new bilateral trade deal with Vietnam, Britain faces higher tariffs from January 2020.

Additionally, Britain is also seeking to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), an 11-member multilateral trade pact that Vietnam is a member of.

After reaching an economic partnership agreement with Japan earlier this month, UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss told Nikkei that London would accelerate talks with CPTPP members. "We have not yet confirmed our timeline for formal application, but any final application decision we make will depend on the progress of bilateral negotiations with CPTPP members," she said.

The UK is set to engage in individual closed-door meetings with the framework's existing members, which include Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile and Brunei. 

Vietnam is also keen to push an FTA with the UK as Covid-19 weighs on the export-driven economy. For this year, the country targets an economic growth of 2.5%, significantly lower than the previous forecast of 5% in May before a resurgence of the virus in July.

The two foreign ministers will be discussing collaboration in the fight against Covid-19. On the security front, Mr. Raab is expected to support efforts in maintaining peace, security and stability, as well as respect for international law in the South China Sea, where several countries have made territorial claims.

Vietnam and the UK set up diplomatic relations in September 1973 and upgraded their ties to Strategic Partnership in 2010.

Apart from the UK, Vietnam is also hoping for other trade deals, including with the US.