Vietnam, EU seek to clarify outstanding trade deal issues prior to ratification

10:12 | 11/12/2019 MUTRAP Corner

(VEN) - The chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA) Bernd Lange has praised Vietnam’s preparation and readiness for ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA).

vietnam eu seek to clarify outstanding trade deal issues prior to ratification
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (standing, middle) witnesses the signing ceremony for the EVFTA and EVIPA

Lange, on a recent visit to Vietnam, said the European Parliament may ratify the EVFTA and EVIPA in February 2020. The Vietnamese National Assembly has also tabled the issue for discussion at its ongoing sitting and may ratify the two deals at its meeting in May next year. Therefore, the coming months are an important time to reach common understandings on issues which are not clear at the moment.

INTA Deputy Chairman Jan Zahradil said that the May 2019 elections to the European Parliament brought in 60 percent of new members from eight different parties, holding varied and complex views, but they have seen Vietnam’s positive efforts. Vietnam needs to grasp every opportunity to facilitate the ratification of the EVFTA and EVIPA. Zahradil emphasized that no country in Southeast Asia will be able to reach a similar agreement with the EU in the foreseeable future.

According to Lange, the European Parliament is very interested in Vietnam’s approval of basic conventions of the International Labor Organization. The country has yet to approve Convention 105 on the abolition of forced labor and Convention 87 on the freedom to organize associations.

The European Parliament has also focused on Vietnam’s Law on Cyber Security. Given the digital economy and modern manufacturing, cyberspace needs to be protected, Lange said, adding that it is necessary to be cautious about the requirements and regulations stipulated in the law. These issues should be placed in the context of personal data protection and must not affect business benefits.

The INTA delegation also described Vietnam’s revised Labor Code 2019 as an important step in protecting social rights, safety and security.

The INTA delegation led by Lange also had a meeting with Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh. The two sides affirmed that once the two deals are ratified and take effect, they will open a new period of promising, profound, and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and the EU. At the meeting, the two sides expressed determination to continue working closely and supporting each other in the ratification process in order to realize the benefits provided by the two deals.

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said the Vietnamese government pursues a consistent policy of promoting Vietnam’s integration into the world, focusing on economic integration. In the context of complicated changes in the regional and global situation, as well as trade protectionism in some countries, Vietnam continues accelerating international integration, while at the same time bringing its internal strength into play. The Ministry of Industry and Trade and relevant ministries and departments are urgently completing documents for approval so that the two deals can be ratified by the National Assembly as soon as possible, he said.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade is also working with relevant ministries and departments to develop overall action plans in order to ensure the implementation of the two deals in an effective manner.

Trade and investment relations between Vietnam and the EU have been developing in a positive direction, as shown by the continuous increase of bilateral trade turnover. Vietnam is also becoming an attractive investment destination for EU companies. The two agreements will contribute significantly to the growth of trade and investment in the future.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade will coordinate with relevant ministries and departments on solutions for

issues in the signed trade and investment agreements with the EU, which are not clear at the moment and

must be clarified prior to ratification.

Nguyen Huong