EC Adopts EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement

The European Commission adopted on 17 October the EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements, paving the way for their signature and conclusion.

The Trade Agreement and the Investment Protection Agreement will provide opportunities to increase trade and support jobs and growth on both sides, the EC says.

More trade, jobs, and growth will come from the elimination of 99 percent of all tariffs on goods traded between the EU and Vietnam. The two sides will also reduce regulatory barriers and overlapping red tape, ensure protection of geographical indications, open up services and public procurement markets, and make sure the agreed rules are enforceable.

Through the agreement with Vietnam, EU companies will be able to participate on an equal footing with domestic companies in bids for procurement tenders with Vietnamese authorities and state-owned enterprises, the EC said.

“Alongside the agreement recently reached with Singapore, this agreement will make further strides towards setting high standards and rules in the ASEAN region, helping to pave the way for a future region-to-region trade and investment agreement,” the Commission noted.

The agreement needs to be authorized by the Council and then signed and presented to the European Parliament for consent.

“Vietnam has massive potential for EU exporters and investors to do business, both now and in the future. It is one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia, with a vibrant market of more than 95 million consumers, an emerging middle class and a young, dynamic workforce,” Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said.

Vietnam is the EU’s second largest trading partner in ASEAN after Singapore, with trade in goods worth 47.6 billion euro and services worth 3.6 billion euro annually. EU investments in Vietnam were still a modest 8.3 billion euro in 2016, but an increasing number of European companies are establishing there to set up a hub to serve the Mekong region. The EU’s key imports from Vietnam include telecommunications equipment, clothing, and food, while the EU’s main exports to Vietnam consist of machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, and agricultural products.