In a press briefing in Ha Noi on April 27, the EU trade official said he saw no reason that Viet Nam would have to wait to become a WTO member since the organisation will convene a meeting of economic ministers in Hong Kong by the end of this year.
He made the comment after attending the sixth ASEAN-EU Ministerial Consultation, which closed in Ha Long city, Quang Ninh province, the same day.
Mandelson said he appreciated the commitments made by the Vietnamese Government during negotiations for its WTO membership.
He also said that all ASEAN economic ministers whom he had talked with had expressed their appreciation of the effort Viet Nam has made to join the world's largest trade body.
He said that Viet Nam's WTO accession will not only benefit the country but also the entire world economy, and that once Viet Nam joins the WTO it would help contribute to the success of the Doha negotiation.
However, he warned that challenges are still ahead for Viet Nam as the country still has to hold a series of bilateral and multilateral negotiations with some WTO members. He called on Viet Nam to speed up the law-making process and efforts in other areas as well, in order to get ready to brace for the stiff competition it will face when the country becomes a WTO member.
The official also praised EU-Viet Nam ties, saying all agreements already signed by Viet Nam and the EU have shown positive results and have benefited both sides, culminating in the signing of the Early Harvest Agreement (Agreement of Market Access) between the two groups.
Viet Nam should take into account the agreement signed with the EU on Viet Nam's WTO accession while negotiating with other partners, Mandelson said.
He also expressed satisfaction at the progress made by the EU and ASEAN in bilateral trade relations but called on both sides to make greater efforts to accelerate negotiations on bilateral cooperation within the Trans-Regional EU-ASEAN Trade Initiative (TREATI) framework.
ASEAN and the EU should also further accelerate dialogues on the exchange of experiences and technical assistance for regional cooperation and integration, he said.
ASEAN and the EU will continue pursuing the agreement on EU-ASEAN cooperation in trade, focusing on dialogues on the law-making process and investment, Mandelson told reporters.
The two groupings have agreed to conduct a feasibility study on a bilateral free trade agreement, Mandelson added.