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May 15, 2008

EU continues support for business competitiveness

The European Union will dole out $10 million for the continuous execution of a project to help Vietnamese businesses raise their competiveness in the EU market, announced a trade official of the EU delegation in Vietnam on May 14.

Trade Councillor of the Vietnam-based EU delegation Antonio Berenguer spoke of the funding at a Ho Chi Minh City seminar on renewing businesses and EU assistance to help Vietnamese improve their competitive capability.

He said the fund will aid the implementation of the third phase of the Multilateral Trade Assistance Project (Mutrap 3), which is planned to last five years.

Mutrap 3 will continue providing technical assistance to Vietnamese businesses through training programmes and help to customs officers to improve their capacity in managing and handling information, the EU official said.

He pointed to the fact that, though Vietnam raked in US$14.23 billion in export earnings from the EU in 2007, the country's products lacked diversity, with the standard exports being footwear, apparel, coffee beans, seafood and wooden furniture.

Many foreign economists at the seminar raised alert of the countrys soaring trade deficit, saying the situation poses a threat to economic growth and macro-management in the country.

In 2007, trade deficit in Vietnam was US$14.1 billion, equivalent to 29.1 per cent of export value and 19.8 per cent of GDP.

However, in the first four months of this year,the trade deficit amounted to US$11.4 billion, equaling to 60.8 per cent of export turnover and almost a half of GDP.

In efforts to narrow the deficit in the coming months, the Government needs to mobilise the participation of all economic sectors and the entire political system, the economists said.

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