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Vietnam Today

EVFTA officially signed in Hanoi

Released at: 10:28, 01/07/2019

EVFTA officially signed in Hanoi

Photo: Quang Phuc (VET)

Vietnam and EU on the cusp of historic new chapter with EVFTA signing.

by Phi Linh

The European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) joined Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, and Romanian Minister of Business, Trade and Entrepreneurship Ștefan-Radu Oprea at the official signing of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) on June 30 in Hanoi.

This historic event moves the EVFTA one step closer to ratification, ahead of a crucial vote in the European Parliament. Once the agreement enters into force, it will set in train a gradual elimination of almost all tariffs on goods traded between the EU and Vietnam, opening up new opportunities for investors and consumers on both sides.

EU investors will gain greater access to Vietnam’s fast-growing market, while businesses in Vietnam will gain greater access to the EU’s 500 million-plus consumers. While the agreement will benefit companies of all sizes and in all industries, those selling textiles, footwear, furniture, leather goods, and agricultural produce will count among the greatest beneficiaries of tariff elimination and more open markets.

EuroCham has been a strong supporter and integral part of the EVFTA ever since negotiations first began, providing detailed insights and recommendations throughout 14 rounds of negotiations. Once the Agreement was concluded in December 2015, ensuring its swift ratification and implementation has been at the heart of the Chamber’s activities. EuroCham has led three Missions, bringing business leaders to Brussels to highlight the importance of the EVFTA and share the positive changes Vietnam continues to make to its trade environment and legal framework. This included meeting with EU Commissioners, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), and senior EU officials, as well as speaking at the European Parliament’s International Trade (INTA) Committee on several occasions, most recently in October 2018.

EuroCham has also held various meetings with the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, and Ministers both here in Vietnam and overseas to advocate on behalf of its members. It joined Prime Minister Phuc in Davos at the World Economic Forum, promoting Vietnam as an attractive trade and investment environment among European business leaders and highlighting the opportunities of the EVFTA. Other events, such as “Meet Europe 2018” and the Chamber’s annual “Whitebook” launches, have further strengthened EU-Vietnam relations and highlighted the importance of this historic free trade agreement.

Following today’s signature, EuroCham will now do all it can to maintain momentum and push for a positive vote in the European Parliament, and will continue to help Vietnam prepare the ground for the smooth and effective implementation of the EVFTA.

“EuroCham welcomes the decision of the Council of Ministers to approve the signing of the EVFTA,” said Mr. Nicolas Audier, Chairman of EuroCham. “The official signing, which took place in Hanoi today, will accelerate the strong momentum behind the EVFTA and take us one step closer to ratification.”

“EuroCham congratulates the Government of Vietnam for reaching this important milestone. The fact that the EVFTA is just the second agreement signed between the EU and a member of ASEAN is testament to Vietnam’s growing leadership not just in the region but also on the world stage.”

“The final hurdle will be a crucial vote in the European Parliament. So, it is now more important than ever that we redouble our efforts to highlight the clear benefits of this agreement to ensure that it is ratified and implemented as soon as possible. The economic benefits of the EVFTA are undisputed: It will boost trade and investment, phase out tariffs and duties, and open up huge new opportunities for companies and consumers on both sides. But it will also help Vietnam to go further and faster on issues like labor rights and increased environmental protection.”

EuroCham knows these issues will be important when Members of the European Parliament vote on ratification. It will therefore continue to highlight the government’s positive record of reform in these areas, not least the recent decision to adopt ILO Convention 98 on Collective Bargaining, according to Mr. Audier.

Kicking off immediate actions following the official signing of the EVFTA, EuroCham will organize a conference in support of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and with the participation of members of both chambers to present all the latest updates from the EU and the Vietnamese Government on the EVFTA and the next steps to utilize the benefits from the treaty. At the conference, the two chambers will announce the establishment of EU-Vietnam Business Council as well as discuss specific activities to further strengthen EU-Vietnam trade relations. A fundamental objective of this partnership is ensuring the ratification and implementation of the EVFTA.

“The official signing of the EVFTA and the EVIPA on June 30 has a tremendous impact on the business community of both sides,” said Dr. Vu Tien Loc, VCCI President. “These agreements will certainly resonate, creating a breakthrough in development, contributing to perfecting the legal framework and business environment, and representing a leap forward in the cooperation between Vietnam and the EU, building a foundation for sustainable development.”

“As national trade promotion organizations, VCCI and EuroCham have affirmed our determination to stand by businesses and help them to seize the opportunities brought about by the EVFTA. In that light, we agreed to establish the EU-Vietnam Business Council and develop a specific Action Program with the aim of promoting the implementation of the EVFTA. Within the framework of the Council’s activities, VCCI and EuroCham will hold an annual Vietnam-EU Economic Summit to promote economic, trade, and investment cooperation between the two sides.”

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