EC urged to push through trade deal between EU and Vietnam

Legislation | | MIC Customs Solutions |

An open letter asks the EC to hurry in making official the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement.

The European Commission (EC) has been urged to act forthwith on finalizing a trade agreement between the European Union and Vietnam that has been in the pipeline since 2015.

A list of signatories including the European Services Forum, EuroCommerce and the German Asia-Pacific Business Association have written an open letter to president Donald Tusk and commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmstrom in which they called upon the council to complete their review of the agreement in time for approval in early 2019.

They said the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) would significantly boost economic growth and promote job creation in both Asia and Europe.

"As a fast-developing country of over 90 million people with a growing middle class, Vietnam will be an increasingly important consumer and sourcing market for EU companies. If the EVFTA is not approved by the current council and parliament, EU businesses risk losing market share in important sectors in Vietnam and harming their competitiveness in the region," the letter said.

It went on to point out that the EVFTA would expand bilateral trade and investment flows, as well as linking Vietnam - a strategically important partner in south-east Asia - more closely to Europe.

"We ask the EU to avoid further delay by concluding the legal review so that the European Parliament can ratify the EVFTA before the European elections in May 2019," the letter concluded.

The proposed free trade agreement includes a legally binding commitment to sustainable development, with an explicit reference to the Paris Agreement.

It was adopted by the EC in October last year and is now undergoing final legal review ahead of its signature and conclusion.

Supporters of the proposed deal hope that it would fill a void created by the US upon its recent withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The EU's main exports to Vietnam are high-tech products such as electrical machinery, aircraft and pharmaceutical items.

Meanwhile, Vietnam's main exports to the EU include footwear, textiles, coffee, rice and furniture.

The EU is one of Vietnam's biggest foreign investors, having committed €1.6 billion in Foreign Direct Investment in 2017, with a total investment stock of €19.2 billion.

Vietnam is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and is the EU's second-most important trade partner in the region after Singapore.

ASEAN as a whole is the EU's third-largest trading partner outside Europe (after only the US and China) and getting EU exporters better access to markets in this area is a current priority for the EU.