Vietnam and the European Union (EU) demonstrated their efforts to push the early signing, ratification and implementation of their free trade agreement and Investment Protection Agreement (IPA) during Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s ongoing visit to Europe.
On October 17 noon, the European Commission (EC) agreed to submit the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) to the European Council to seek its approval for the signing of the deal slated for late 2018 and to the European Parliament (EP) for ratification in 2019.
At a press conference on October 17 afternoon, the EU affirmed its commitment to putting the document in place as soon as possible.
During his trip, PM Phuc held talks with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria, which is assuming the EU Presidency, and with Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium, which accommodates EU agencies.
He also met with other leaders and businesspeople of the two countries, and delivered speeches at business forums, calling for the implementation of these documents.
The same day, the PM had a meeting with Bernd Lange, Chairman of the EP’s International Trade Committee.
He applauded the role and contributions of Lange to enhancing the partnership between Vietnam and the EU in general and between the Vietnamese National Assembly and the EP in particular.
Lange expressed his delight at the EC’s decision to send the EVFTA to the European Council for signing, saying this is an important step so the EP can begin the ratification process.
He affirmed his support for all-round cooperation between Vietnam and the EU.
During his meeting with EP President Antonio Tajani the same day, PM Phuc praised the fruitful relations between the Vietnamese legislature and the EP, saying Vietnam considers it an important pillar of the Vietnam-EU comprehensive cooperation.
For his part, Tajani stressed the EP will make efforts to ratify the documents in early 2019, which, he said, would support both sides and benefit trade in Europe and Asia.
The EP will continue with its support for the implementation of cooperation programmes between the EU and Vietnam, as well as Vietnam’s sustainable development, he said.
He lauded cooperation between the EU and Vietnam at international forums and organisations, affirming his support for efforts to maintain peace and security, avoid escalating tension and respect interests of parties concerned in the East Sea on the basis of international law.
The EC’s adoption of the EVFTA ahead of the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit, which opens on October 18, has demonstrated all sides’ efforts to step up connectivity between Asia and Europe.
In a press release, the EU cited EC President Jean-Claude Juncker as saying that the trade and investment agreements with Vietnam are exemplary of Europe’s trade policy. They bring unprecedented benefits to European and Vietnamese companies, workers and consumers.
“By adopting them a few hours before welcoming the participants to the ASEM Summit in Brussels, the commission shows its commitment to open trade and engagement with Asia,” he said.
Juncker said he expects the EP and EU member states to work to ensure the agreements enter into force as soon as possible.
EC Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said Vietnam 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.
She expressed her hope the EP and EU member countries will approve the agreements swiftly to allow businesses, workers, farmers and consumers to reap the benefits as soon as possible.