Vietnam’s National Assembly (NA) on Monday approved a wide-ranging free trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Union, paving the way for it to take effect later this year.
The trade deal, known as the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), has been described by Brussels as its most ambitious agreement with a developing country.
It was passed by 457 Vietnamese lawmakers or 100 per cent of deputies present at the voting, with 26 abstentions.
In an unusual development and show of transparency, the voting procedures were broadcast live on Vietnamese television.
The agreement with Vietnam will eliminate 99 per cent of all tariffs on both sides, cut non-tariff barriers – for example by aligning product standards – and open up Vietnamese services and public procurement markets to EU companies.
The deal is considered a potential economic boon for Vietnam, helping the country to achieve an annual GDP target of between 2.18 and 3.25 per cent over the coming years and gain access to a market of over 500 million people, according to a statement released by Vietnam’s Trade Ministry in April.
The EVFTA will help Vietnam, which is already one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, to increase its export turnover to the EU by about 20 per cent by 2020 and 44 per cent by 2030.
Negotiations on the EU-Vietnam trade deal began in 2012 and wrapped up in 2015, but it was then held up for several years by a series of legal hitches.
Over the coming months, both parties must now notify one another that they have completed all required internal legal procedures, before the agreement is expected to enter into force on Aug. 1.
The NA also ratified Convention 105 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which obliges Vietnam to adhere to ILO standards on vital labour issues.
These include allowing freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of all forms of forced labour, the abolition of child labour and the elimination of employer discrimination.
Vietnam, a South-East Asian nation of 96 million people, has thus far successfully managed to contain the coronavirus, yet still faces severe economic impacts.
Edited By: Abdufatah Babatunde (NAN)
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