EVFTA realization requires determination and action

10:45 | 14/04/2017 Cooperation

(VEN) - The decision by President Donald Trump to pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is increasing interest in, and expectations of, the EU-Vietnam Free trade Agreement (EVFTA).  

This was reflected in a recent seminar held in Hanoi to launch the Whitebook 2017, an annual publication by the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) reflecting key concerns of its members regarding trade, investment, growth and employment. This year’s edition, the 9th, includes recommendations put forth by members for the hoped-for treaty implementation next year.

EuroCham Chairman Michael Behrens said in his keynote speech that the bilateral treaty with the EU was another step forward to further integrate Vietnam into the global economy.

So far, Vietnam has joined 16 FTAs with 58 partner countries and economies worldwide. Of these, 10 bilateral and multilateral FTAs are already in force, and four others are under negotiation. Negotiations on two new-generation FTAs, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the EVFTA, have been concluded. Vietnam expects that these two agreements with large economies will bring not only commercial benefits but also opportunities to standardize institutions of the market economy according to modern global standards.

However, participants at the seminar agreed that in the context of unpredictable changes in the global economy, the impact of anti-globalization trends on trade liberalization is inevitable. Data from the National Committee for APEC 2017 show that since 2009, G20 member countries have taken 1,700 measures to restrict trade liberalization. The latest of these is the decision by the world’s largest economy to pull out of the TPP. This has increased Vietnam’s expectations from the EVFTA.

Not only Vietnam, but the EU also expects the EVFTA will boost its cooperation with Vietnam. In the opinion of Ambassador Bruno Angelet, Head of the EU Delegation to Vietnam, the agreement, with comprehensive approaches to investment, trade, institutional, environmental aspects, and sustainable development, is an ambitious, high-standard trade pact which the EU and Vietnam have achieved following great efforts. EU countries and the European business community highly appreciate the Vietnamese market and hope the two sides will sign and ratify this agreement as soon as possible. After it takes effect, economic and commercial cooperation between Vietnam and the EU, as well as relations in many other fields between the two sides, are expected to expand and benefit both sides.

In fact, however, the EVFTA signing has been delayed from 2016 to 2017. Policy makers said both Vietnam and the EU should show greater determination and take stronger action to accelerate the signing of this agreement. For the Vietnamese side, according to VCCI Chairman Vu Tien Loc, both the business community and the government need to get ready in terms of competitive capacity and other conditions, such as manufacturing capability and awareness, to make the most of opportunities offered by the agreement. The government, in his opinion, should promote institutional reforms in order to realize Vietnam’s commitments.

Ambassador Bruno Angelet, the Head of the EU Delegation to Vietnam:

In 2016, the EU was Vietnam’s largest trading partner and second largest export partner. Vietnam is expected to become an investment hub for European businesses in the Southeast Asian region after the EVFTA takes effect.

Lan Ngọc