EU welcomes signing of free trade deals with Vietnam
President of the European Commission (EC) Jean-Claude Juncker said on 25 June that he welcomed the decision of the EU member states on approving to entrust the EC to sign the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) with the Southeast Asian country.
“After Singapore, the agreements with Vietnam are the second to have been concluded between the EU and a Southeast Asian country, and represent stepping stones to a greater engagement between Europe and the region. It is also a political statement by two partners and friends standing together for open, fair and rules-based trade”, he stated.
Much to her delight, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said she was pleased to see that the member states have given a green light to the trade and investment agreements with Vietnam.
Speaking highly of Vietnam, a vibrant and promising market of more than 95 million consumers and both sides have much to gain from stronger trade relations, she stressed that beyond the clear economic benefits, this deal also aims to strengthen respect for human rights as well as protecting the environment and workers’ rights.
“I welcome Vietnam’s engagement in the process so far, their recent ratification of the International Labour Organisation Convention on collective bargaining is an excellent example of how trade agreements can encourage higher standards,” she said.
On behalf of the EU, Cecilia Malmström and Romanian Minister for Business, Trade and Entrepreneurship Stefan-Radu Oprea will sign the deals with the Vietnamese side in Hanoi on 30 June.
After they are inked, the agreements will be presented to the Vietnamese National Assembly and the European Parliament for approval. Meanwhile, the investment protection agreement will first need to be ratified by the EU member states according to their respective internal procedures.
Vietnam is currently the EU’s second largest trading partner in the ASEAN region after Singapore, with trade worth nearly 50 billion EUR for goods and over 3 billion EUR for services. Vietnam’s major exports to the EU include telecommunications equipment, footwear and textiles, furniture and agricultural products. The EU mainly sells to Vietnam goods such as machinery and transport equipment, chemicals and food and beverages.
The agreements reached with Vietnam, alongside those signed recently with Singapore, help pave the way for a future region-to-region agreement with the entire ASEAN bloc.