This article was first published in Vietnam Economic Times.
The latest round of trade talks within the WTO framework - the Doha round - is in an indefinite gridlock for a variety of reasons but most often cited is the very large number of participants involved and their disparate economic/development levels. Eager to push ahead with trade liberalization, like-minded countries have come together to look for alternative trading arrangements. In this context, free trade agreements (FTAs) have come into play. Indeed, as at January some 604 notifications of regional trade agreements had been received by the WTO. Of these, 398 are currently in force. In this ongoing wave of FTAs, Vietnam has been actively engaged in trade negotiations with its major trading partners and has concluded a number of FTAs so far.