HANOI, May 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Vietnam is accelerating multilateral and bilateral negotiations, as well as law reform, hoping to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO) this year.
The country has conducted nine multilateral negotiation rounds since it applied to join the organization in 1995. In the 9th round last December, Vietnam offered a bigger cut in average import tariffs and elimination of agricultural export subsidies, while persuading partners to give it preferential policies applied to developing countries.
"For some sensitive fields, we have coordinated negotiation with explanation and persuasion so that trade partners can understand our current difficulties," Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Trade Luong Van Tu said. Some partners agreed to lighten their requests after learning about the country's real development situation.
In the negotiations, some partners agreed with Vietnam's proposal that the state offer a subsidy of 10 percent for its farm product exports when knowing that up to 70 percent of the Vietnamese population work in agriculture sector.
"The move is very important as it not only expresses the support of other countries for Vietnam's bid for WTO accession, but is a firm base for us to soon complete negotiations with partners in both multilateral and bilateral talks," Tu noted.
Vietnam is actively preparing for the 10th multilateral negotiation round, which is scheduled to begin in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 20. The country has sent to the WTO secretariat reports which involve in its commitments on opening upmarket.
Regarding bilateral talks, Vietnam has completed negotiations on opening up goods and services markets with seven WTO members, namely the European Union, Singapore, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Chile and Uruguay, since it began bilateral and multilateral negotiations in 1998.
Now, the country is endeavoring to narrow difference gaps in negotiations with 20 other partners, including major ones such as the United States, China, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, and Canada.
For the United States, one of its most important trade partners,Vietnam hopes to conclude talks with the country late next month when Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai pays a visit to the United States. According to foreign experts, the visit partly aims to speed up the WTO-related bilateral negotiation.
To accelerate the talks, Vietnam is also urging the United States to fulfill its commitment to backing its WTO accession, as stated in their Bilateral Trade Agreement signed in late 2001, Tu said.
The country, which has concluded its second round of negotiations with the United States in March, is planning to conduct the next round shortly. At the upcoming round, the two sides are scheduled to discuss issues on opening up markets of service, farm products, and goods at last.
The United States has required Vietnam to open all fields of its service sector, including retail distribution market, and eliminate the policy discrimination between locally made and imported products such as automobiles and tobaccos once it joins the WTO.
Regarding New Zealand, Vietnam proactively offered tax removal on dairy products imported from the country in bilateral talks in late February. The tariff elimination can help accelerate negotiation process with New Zealand, because dairy products account for up to 60-70 percent of the country's annual export turnover to Vietnam.
The Vietnamese prime minister paid a visit to New Zealand and Australia early this month, calling for the two countries to support Vietnam's bid for WTO accession. The two countries have agreed to soon complete bilateral negotiation on the issue with Vietnam.
For South Korea, Vietnam has recently offered the market opening for South Korean goods, excluding items with great export value. During the visit to South Korea by Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Dy Nien early May, the two sides reached an agreement on concluding their bilateral talks on Vietnam's WTO accession this month.
Earlier, Vietnam called for the South Korea's support on the issue when South Korean Prime Minister Lee Hae Chan visited Vietnam late April.
Vietnam has planned to conduct bilateral negotiation talks with several regional partners including China, Japan, and South Korea on the sidelines of the 10th multilateral negotiation round.
Along with accelerating negotiations, the country is speeding up law making in accordance with WTO regulations.
"The National Assembly considers law making to serve WTO accession a priority. We will spend more time on the work this year," said Nguyen Van An, chairman of the National Assembly of Vietnam.
During the ongoing 7th session of the 11th National Assembly, the assembly will pass 22 bills and ordinances geared toward upgrading the country's legal framework for WTO accession.