Brussels – Vietnam is determined to build an open trade and investment environment and welcomes all European investors and entrepreneurs to do business in the country, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh has said.
The official made the statement in Brussels on September 18 at a high-level conference on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which was attended by nearly 100 delegates who are experts, entrepreneurs and representatives of organisations from the EU and Vietnam.
Speakers at the event provided participants with an insight into the agreement and the benefits it will bring to the two sides’ enterprises in fields ranging from services, trade, investment and intellectual property to e-commerce.
Peter Berz, Head of Unit in the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission responsible for trade relations with Southeast Asian nations, said the EVFTA and the Investment Protection Agreement (IPA), once signed and brought into effect, will become a model for FTAs between Vietnam and other partners in the future.
Ambassador Vu Anh Quang, head of the Vietnam Delegation to the EU, stated Vietnam and the EU shared a common view on multilateralism in maintaining relations and international law.
He said the EVFTA will create a legal framework for free trade between the two sides and become part of the EU-Vietnam Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (PCA).
Axel Goethals, CEO of the European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS), said up to 99 percent of EU tariffs will be removed for Vietnamese products thanks to the EVFTA.
Therefore, the agreement is expected to raise the volume of exports to the EU by a third, and open up a new chapter for bilateral trade, he added.
Deputy Minister Khanh stressed the Vietnamese Government is preparing a plan on the enforcement of the EVFTA, and is willing to work with the EU towards trade liberalisation.
He affirmed that the EU is a trusted partner of Vietnam.
Legal reviews for a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the EU started after negotiations on the deal concluded on December 2, 2015. However, the EU changed its regulations on the process of approving FTAs, with the division of contents related to investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement made into a separate deal called Investment Protection Agreement (IPA).
In April 2018, the agreement was successfully divided into the EVFTA and the IPA.
On June 25, 2018, the two sides finished the legal review process for the EVFTA and agreed on the investment protection deal
The EVFTA has now been finalised after a series of efforts to solve technical problems. It is being translated into the 24 official languages of the European Union (EU) and sent to member countries for consideration.
The EU is the third largest trade partner of Vietnam and one of the country’s two biggest export markets. Two-way trade grew 12 folds to 50.4 billion USD in 2017 from only 4.1 billion USD in 2000.
On September 18, representatives from the Ministry of Industry and Trade attended a press conference to introduce the benefits to be brought by the EVFTA to EU and Vietnamese businesses.
Deputy Minister Khanh affirmed that the agreement will help Vietnam have a firmer legal foundation, emphasising the country is willing to improve its policies and laws.