EU and Vietnam launch negotiations for a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement

03/07/2012    50

On 26 June 2012, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and Vietnamese Minister for Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang officially launch negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and Vietnam. Both sides seek for a comprehensive agreement covering tariffs, non-tariff barriers as well as commitments on other trade related aspects, notably procurement, regulatory issues, competition, services, and sustainable development.

"I'm delighted to announce the opening of trade negotiations with Vietnam. The potential for both sides is enormous and the first negotiating round should take place just after the summer break", said EU Trade Commissioner De Gucht. "Vietnam is our third partner in the ASEAN region after Singapore and Malaysia with whom we launch individual negotiations. After that, our door remains open. We are continuing our contacts with a number of other ASEAN Member States, including Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, and Europe will be ready to move whenever they are."

The European Union and Vietnam initialed a Partnership Cooperation Agreement in 2010, as a first step towards establishing closer economic and political ties. The launch of FTA negotiations marks the next step in this relationship.

In December 2009, EU Member States gave the green light for the European Commission to pursue negotiations towards Free Trade Agreements with individual ASEAN countries. Negotiations with Singapore and Malaysia began in March 2010 and October 2010 respectively. Vietnam will thus be the third partner of the EU in the ASEAN region with whom the EU has started negotiations on a free trade agreement.

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.


Vietnam is one of the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The ASEAN countries together are the EU's third largest trading partner outside Europe with annual bilateral trade in goods and services of some € 175 billion.

Vietnam is the EU's fifth largest trading partner within ASEAN (and 35th out of the EU's total trade). Conversely, the European Union is Vietnam's 3rd largest trading partner (after China and the US).

Trade figures for 2011 (goods):

  •  EU exports to Vietnam: € 5.2 billion
  •  EU imports from Vietnam: € 12.8 billion
  •  Total trade in goods: € 18 billion

EU exports are dominated by high tech products including electrical machinery and equipment, aircraft, vehicles, pharmaceutical products and iron and steel. Vietnam's key export items include footwear, textiles and clothing, coffee seafood and leather furniture.

The EU is one of the largest foreign investors in Vietnam with investments worth around US$ 1.8 billion, which represented more than 12% of Vietnam's total committed Foreign Direct Investment in 2011 according to Vietnamese sources.