He made the statement during an exclusive interview granted toVietnam News Agency correspondents in Geneva ahead of his official visit to the Southeast Asian nation on Thursday and Friday.
Following is the full text of the interview:
This is the first time a WTO Director-General has visited Việt Nam. Could you tell us the purpose of the visit?
Well, it is in fact my first visit to Việt Nam as Director General, and more generally as a person, and as it is my first visit I am very interested in the country. Việt Nam has boasted very significant progress, both in economic terms, but also in social terms – millions have been lifted out of poverty. So I’m very happy with the progress. As the country has experimented over the last several years, Việt Nam has become a leading agriculture exporter, it’s a very attractive sight for foreign direct investment in Asia, it’s an economy that’s playing a role in the region and in the world, and it’s important for me to hear a little bit about what the projects are for the country. What are the strategies for growth, or for trade in the country?
And I will be meeting with government officials and representatives from business and academia, so it’s important for me to listen to all those things and check how the WTO can help. And how we can deepen the dialogue between the two of us.
What is your assessment of Việt Nam’s efforts in international integration?
Well, Việt Nam acceded to the WTO in 2007, and before that and after that, a number of reforms were introduced that made a big difference.
Trade was liberalised considerably, tariffs in general were lowered, there were reforms in services as well, and there is clearly an improvement also in intellectual property and enforcement and protection. So, there were many things that were done. The government took several steps to modernise the economy, to make it more attractive, to make it more business friendly, and all those things now are benefitting the country.
So I think Việt Nam is on the right path. It has also developed a network of trade agreements; it has participated in regional agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP, which is very important as well. So the efforts are paying off, and I think Việt Nam is on the right track.
What, in your opinion, should WTO and Việt Nam do to increase the country’s role and position in global trade activities?
Well first, we have to talk to each other more, and that’s precisely what I’m doing. That’s why I’m coming to Việt Nam - precisely to deepen the understanding of what Việt Nam has planned for the future and how the WTO can help them, and also Việt Nam can help the WTO too, helping to develop new disciplines and areas for negotiations that may benefit the country in the future.
Implementing agreements that we have already is very important. Việt Nam was early in ratifying the trade facilitation agreement - it did so last December - so now implementing that agreement is very important because in general it will lower the cost of doing business for Vietnamese enterprises and it will facilitate the business of small and medium enterprises which are the larger part of the Vietnamese economy. It is composed of small and medium enterprises, and they benefit significantly from that agreement.
And of course now we are figuring out how to conduct further negotiations, how to move forward with our negotiations, both with the impending issues of the Doha round, but also non-Doha issues which members want to talk about like electronic commerce, even small and medium enterprises, or facilitation of investments and other things people are talking about that Việt Nam could consider discussing here with the WTO to help further its plans for development and growth. — VNS