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EU and Vietnam hold eleventh round of FTA talks

The EU and Vietnam today completed the eleventh round of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The talks were held in Brussels, on 19-23 January 2015. Both teams made further progress on all outstanding issues and are working towards a swift conclusion of the negotiations.

In this round, talks focused in particular on services, investment, government procurement, competition related aspects, and regulatory issues. Chief negotiators also had intense discussions on the key areas included in the FTA. Technical work was completed in three areas, namely the provisions aimed at combatting fraud and the chapters on trade remedies and on trade and sustainable development. 

The chapter on Trade and Sustainable Development contains robust provisions, including:

  • commitments to the core ILO labour standards and Conventions, and Multilateral Environmental Agreements;
  • obligations not to derogate from or fail to effectively enforce domestic labour and environmental laws to attract trade and investment (to avoid a race to the bottom), mechanisms for the involvement of civil society, and a dedicated article on climate change;
  • commitments to the conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity (including wildlife), forestry (including combatting illegal logging), and fisheries;
  • the promotion of Corporate Social Responsibility.

Overall, the talks aim at an ambitious and comprehensive agreement on goods, services and investment, and government procurement. In addition to eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers, negotiators are tackling other trade-related issues, regulatory issues, competition, and intellectual property rights including Geographical Indications. Once in place, the agreement will further strengthen EU-Vietnam trade and investment ties and create enhanced business opportunities on both sides. 

The negotiating teams were headed by Mauro Petriccione, Deputy Director General in the European Commission’s Directorate General for Trade and Vietnamese Vice Minister for Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh. 

The twelfth round of negotiations will take place in Vietnam in March with intensified contacts at Chiefs’ and technical level between now and March. 

Background

The EU and Vietnam, one of the 10 members of ASEAN, announced the start of bilateral FTA negotiations in Brussels in June 2012.

The EU and Vietnam have strong trade ties. Vietnam is the EU's fifth largest trading partner within ASEAN (and 30th out of the EU's total trade). In 2013, two-way trade amounted to €27 billion. The EU is one of the largest foreign direct investors, committing €1.37 billion in total.

Vietnam is the third ASEAN country to hold FTA negotiations with the EU after Singapore and Malaysia, followed by Thailand.

While pursuing a bilateral approach, the EU is not losing sight of the ultimate goal of achieving an agreement with ASEAN as a whole, one of the most dynamic regions in the world. The EU is therefore looking to reach an ambitious agreement with Vietnam that is coherent with other individual FTAs with ASEAN member states.

Figures for EU-Vietnam trade in goods (2013):

  • EU exports to Vietnam: €5.8 billion
  • EU imports from Vietnam: €21.3 billion
  • Total trade in goods: €27.1 billion

EU exports are mainly high tech products including electrical machinery and equipment, aircraft, vehicles, pharmaceutical products and iron and steel. Vietnam's key exports to the EU include telephone sets, electronic products, footwear, textiles and clothing, coffee, rice, fishery products, and furniture.

Source: trade.ec.europa.eu

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