At the meeting, PM Phuc talked about Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh's recent visit to the UK over October 8-10 amid the 45th anniversary of the two countries' diplomatic relations, and his meeting with British PM Theresa May on the sidelines of the 12 ASEM Summit in Belgium, during which the two sides discussed a host of measures to promote relations between the two nations.
Regarding the potential for closer cooperation, PM Phuc said that he hopes Ambassador Gareth Ward could help to double bilateral trade between Vietnam and the UK during his term.
Last year's two-way trade reached in excess of US$6 billion, up 11% over 2016.
With US$3.71 billion worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam, the UK has now ranked 15th out of the 129 countries and territories investing in the Southeast Asian nation.
Gareth Ward said Vietnam's improved business environment has greatly impressed many British businesses, adding that throughout his tenure, he will spare no effort to boost bilateral trade as well as cooperation in other fields such as education- training, culture, health care and defence.
Emphasizing support for free trade, the diplomat said the UK welcomes the EU- Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and will expedite the early signing and ratification of the trade pact.
Concerning the East Sea issue, the Ambassador laid stress on full adherence to legal regulations on security, safety and freedom of both navigation and aviation.
In responding to the UK Ambassador, PM Phuc stated that Vietnam welcomes proposals on continued FTA negotiation in order to promote bilateral trade and investment after the UK officially leaves the EU, at the same time deepening the strategic partnership between the two countries.
In the immediate future, the two sides should continue to exchange technical issues to define the framework of the trade deal and matters for negotiation, thus facilitating the later negotiation process, Phuc said.
The government leader expected the UK side to help Vietnam access capital source from the Prosperity Fund in order to boost areas of priority for Vietnam such as business environment improvement, climate change response and infrastructure development.
Vietnam-UK cooperation in education-training and tourism has grown steadily over recent years, with 285,000 British visitors coming to Vietnam during 2017, an increase of 13% from 2016. Vietnam desires to step up cooperation and share experience with the UK in these fields, he noted.
PM Phuc has been appreciative of the UK's positive stance on issues regarding the East Sea, which strongly supports security, safety and freedom of both navigation and aviation in the region, in the spirit of respect for international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The PM believed that with a wealth of experience in foreign affairs and close collaboration from Vietnamese ministries and departments, the Ambassador will make practical contributions to fostering the two countries' bilateral ties in the years to come.