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In a meeting held in Brussels on the same day, they also concluded discussions on the Investment Protection Agreement (IPA).
The commission will now translate the trade agreement’s text into the 22 other official languages of the EU and launch the legal review of the IPA text, paving the way towards signing and concluding these two agreements.
The EVFTA will give Vietnam numerous opportunities in trade and investment with the EU
“The agreement is a great opportunity for European exporters. Vietnam is one of the fastest growing countries in Southeast Asia, a market with significant potential for the EU's agricultural, industrial, and services exports,” said Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström. “Having concluded the legal review, we now hope to conclude the trade agreements swiftly to allow EU firms, workers, farmers, and consumers to reap the benefits as soon as possible. Vietnam is a good example of a developing country seizing the opportunities of open global trade, hand in hand with clear commitments to respect human rights and to comply with International Labour Organization conventions."
Vietnam has become the EU's second biggest trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after Singapore, overtaking Malaysia, with bilateral trade value of EUR47.6 billion ($55.41 billion) last year.
The EVFTA will eliminate over 99 per cent of tariff lines. Vietnam will liberalise 65 per cent of import duties on EU exports to Vietnam at entry into force, with the remaining duties being gradually eliminated over a 10-year period.
The EVFTA will also contain specific provisions to address non-tariff barriers in the automotive sector and will provide protection for traditional European food and drink products, like Rioja or Roquefort, in Vietnam.
Through the agreement, EU firms will also be allowed to bid for public contracts at Vietnamese authorities and state-owned enterprises. Alongside the recently agreed deal with Singapore, this agreement will make further strides towards setting high standards and rules in the ASEAN region, helping to pave the way for a future region-to-region trade and investment agreement.
While offering significant economic opportunities, the trade agreement also includes a comprehensive chapter on trade and sustainable development, setting the highest standards of labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection, as well as strengthening joint action on sustainable development and climate change and safeguarding public services. Both agreements reaffirm obligations to respect universal human rights principles.
After the translation of the EVFTA, the commission will make a proposal to the council to sign and conclude the agreements. After signature, the council will send the agreements to the European Parliament.
In the meantime, the commission continues the necessary preparatory work to ensure the effective and timely implementation of the trade agreement, including animal and plant health (sanitary and phytosanitary) and labour issues.