“The preparation of documents has entered the home straight. All the principal issues, once again, have been discussed. I hope that we will soon be able to turn to signing this agreement,” said Medvedev as quoted by RIA.

"Our turnover has slightly decreased in recent years, so, in order to improve the situation, we decided to instruct our ministries, businesses and agencies on both sides to take measures in signing an agreement on a free trade zone between Vietnam and the Eurasian Economic Union in the first half of 2015,”Nguyen said on Monday to journalists, adding that Vietnam seeks to increase trade with Russia to $10 billion by 2020.

Medvedev confirmed plans to boost bilateral trade in the five years following, noting that it fell to $3.7 billion in 2014 from $4 billion in 2013.

"We have seen some reduction in trade in the past year, which, as we have stated, will be temporary, and we are sure about it," he said adding that establishing a free trade zone between Vietnam and the EEU is going to be an effective measure in pursuing the plan. Russian-Vietnamese projects

Russia and Vietnam also guarantee the development of Vietnamese and Russian offshore oil and gas projects. Russia’s Gazprom Neft and the Oil and Gas Corporation of Vietnam signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire a 49 percent share of Vietnam’s Binh Son Refining and Petrochemicals.

The Russian and Vietnamese delegations signed 17 priority projects for 2015 that include the supply of equipment for Vietnamese power plants, construction and technological upgrading of enterprises and the creation of industrial clusters.

Medvedev said Russia is working out the possibility of building a plant for Russian trucks (GAZ, KAMAZ, UAZ) and road equipment in Vietnam, as well as the production of rolling stock for railways.

Vietnam is currently implementing about a hundred projects with Russian investment. Russia hopes to shortly start building Vietnam’s first nuclear power plant and create a Center for Nuclear Science and Technology, Medvedev said.

RT.com - April 6, 2015

Medvedev: Vietnam Close to Deal With Russian-Led Trade Area

Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Monday that Vietnam is close to agreeing a free trade deal with the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.

He predicted that Russia's annual trade with Vietnam could increase by fourfold to $10 billion over the next five years. The two sides also agreed to expand oil and gas exploration in the contested South China Sea.

Medvedev is on a 2-day official visit to Communist Party-ruled Vietnam and held talks with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung.

Wary of the growing influence of giant northern neighbor China, the Vietnamese government has sought to strengthen commercial and military ties with world powers including the its former enemy the United States and Japan. Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations are embroiled in disputes with Beijing over its expansive claim to the South China Sea.

Medvedev said a trade agreement between Vietnam and the EEU, an economic community which also includes Belarus and Kazakhstan, would help bolster economic ties.

"We have agreed on most contents of the agreement," Medvedev said through a translator during a press briefing. "I think this is the factor that would promote bilateral trade."

Dung said he hoped the trade pact would be signed in the first half of this year.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Russia was $2.5 billion last year.

The two leaders witnessed the signing of several energy cooperation agreements including Russia's Gazprom Neft's intention to buy 49 percent of a 6.5 million-ton oil refinery in central Vietnam which is operational.

Dung said the two leaders agreed on the expansion of cooperation in oil and gas projects in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in the East Sea, which is the Vietnamese term for the South China Sea.

"We are committed to creating favorable and secure conditions for Russian oil companies to operate in Vietnamese waters," Dung said.

Vietnam along with China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan claim all or parts of the South China Sea which is believed to be rich in oil and gas and is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

Medvedev was scheduled to meet with President Truong Tan Sang and Communist Party Chief Nguyen Phu Trong later Monday. He will also visit Ho Chi Minh City, a bustling commercial city in the south, before leaving Tuesday.

By Tran Van Minh - The Associated Press - April 6, 2015

Russia, Vietnam sign energy agreements

HANOI - As the Asian pivot continues, Russian oil company Gazprom Neft said Monday it signed deals with its counterparts at PetroVietnam.

Documents signed in Hanoi in the presence of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, envision bilateral oil and gas development in the northern Russian waters of Pechora Sea.

"By the end of October, the parties will form a list of priority oil and gas fields and agree the basic terms of the partnership before further agreements are signed," the Russian company said in a statement. "The projects will be implemented via joint ventures of Gazprom Neft and PetroVietnam, in which the stakes of each party will be negotiated."

Both sides also laid out terms for the Gazprom Neft acquisition in a 49 percent share of the Dung Quat refinery in Vietnam, which refines about 48 million barrels of oil per year.

Financial terms of any formal deals between the two companies weren't disclosed. The Russian prime minister said during the weekend the deals would be in place in time for bilateral operations to begin next year.

The agreements come as Russian energy interests align more closely with those of Asian economies looking to take on more oil and natural gas. Medvedev confirmed the government's interests Sunday.

"In recent years, we have largely reoriented our policies towards active cooperation with the Asia-Pacific countries," he said.

By Daniel J. Graeber - United Press International - April 6, 2015