Vietnam, EU sign free trade, investment protection deals

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-30 22:17:04|Editor: Wu Qin
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HANOI, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Vietnam and the European Union (EU) inked here on Sunday the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA).

Amid rising protectionism, non-traditional security challenges and difficulties facing global trade, the cooperation between Vietnam and the EU, including the signing of the EVFTA and the EVIPA, indicates the two sides' strategic vision, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said after the two deals were signed in Vietnam's capital Hanoi.

The signing ceremony was attended by Vietnamese senior officials, EU officials, foreign diplomats in Vietnam, and foreign and local reporters.

The EVFTA is the most far-reaching and most ambitious free trade agreement the EU has inked with a developing country, the EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told a press conference in Hanoi right after the signing ceremony.

The EVFTA is to eliminate 99 percent of tariff lines for Vietnams exports to the EU, and the remaining 1 percent will be removed via tariff quotas. "This will eliminate the cost and red tape that businesses, especially small and medium enterprises face," she stated.

The high-quality EVFTA and EVIPA cover a wide range of issues, including trade in goods and services, public procurement, investment court system, sustainable development, labor and environmental and consumer protection.

The EVFTA will help Vietnam's export to the EU increase by 20 percent in 2020, some 42.7 percent in 2025 and nearly 44.4 percent in 2030, according to the latest research by the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Regarding the EU's exports, Vietnam agrees to remove 48.5 percent of import tariff on 64.5 percent of the EU's exports to Vietnam immediately after the EVFTA takes effect, Vietnam News Agency reported on Sunday.

The figure will be increased to 91.8 percent seven years later. For the remaining EU exports, Vietnam will apply a tariff elimination roadmap for longer than 10 years or apply the World Trade Organization's duty quota.

The EVFTA, which was initiated in 2012 with negotiations concluding in 2015, is expected to be approved by the European Parliament and Vietnam's top legislature in 2020 before taking effect, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The EVIPA needs to be approved by all EU state members before coming into force, and this approval process is estimated to last for around two years.