The EU and Vietnam have today reached an agreement in principle in the negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), after two and a half years of intense talks.
Following a telephone conversation this morning between EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang, all issues of substance have been agreed on, and both sides have reached a mutually beneficial and balanced package.
This agreement will remove nearly all tariffs on goods traded between the two economies. "We have a deal. This finely balanced agreement will boost trade with one of Asia’s most dynamic economies. It sets a new, better and modern model for Free Trade Agreements between the EU and developing countries, and establishes a good standard for the trade relationship between the EU and South East Asia as a whole", said Commissioner Malmström.
EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan stated: "I am delighted that we can confirm this agreement today. In agriculture, I believe the EU has secured a good deal, in particular on tariffs, GIs and rules of origin."
On the basis of today’s agreement, the negotiating teams will now continue the process, settle some remaining technical issues and finalise the legal text. Once finalised, the agreement will then need to be approved by the Council and European Parliament.
On tariffs, Vietnam has agreed to fully liberalize all its sectors apart from a few highly sensitive areas (such as sugar and eggs). That means the EU has got a good deal especially on wines and spirits, beers, meat (beef, poultry and pork) and dairy products and many others including fruit and vegetables and processed agricultural products.
On rice, Vietnam started negotiations aiming to get significantly better access on rice. However it has now agreed to lower its ambition. This means the EU has also got an acceptable deal on rice which will help protect the EU's fragile rice sector.
Geographical Indications (GIs) are a particular success for the EU, with high-level (full) protection of EU GIs being secured through the agreement for a list of EU GIs, avoiding the need for EU right holders to apply directly. All conflicts with other right holders and trademarks have basically been solved.
Other success stories include good results on rules of origin. Poultry and manioc starch exported to the EU will have to come exclusively from Vietnam and other products such as sugar will be adequately tracked. Vietnam will also recognise the EU as a single entity as regards sanitary and phytosanitary issues.
EU trade with Vietnam in agricultural products has grown considerably in recent years – both in terms of imports and exports. The EU is a net importer, but the growth in EU exports has also been important in recent years.