The recently agreed Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Vietnam is expected to enter into force in early 2018, but both sides have signalled willingness this week to improve cooperation ahead of that date. In a visit to Vietnam this week, as part of a promotion visit to Asia, EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has invited a task force of Vietnamese experts to Brussels in coming weeks to help eliminate SPS trade barriers.
Speaking after meetings in Hanoi with Prime Minister Phuc and Agri Minister Cuong, Commissioner Hogan said: "I am very pleased that the Vietnamese government has accepted the invitation to send a team of experts. This will help unlock SPS barriers for EU and Vietnamese exporters and will allow producers to fully seize opportunities of the future FTA."
In a press conference in Ho Chi Minh City today Commissioner Hogan underlined the huge opportunity that the FTA will provide for Vietnamese and European producers and the importance of preparing the ground before it enters into force. Commissioner Hogan said: "Vietnam and the EU have complementary agrifood systems. You produce the finest coffee, cashew nuts, peppers and many other products. We produce wine, spirits, dairy, quality meats as well as fruit and vegetables."
When asked about sharing technology with Vietnamese producers, the Commissioner confirmed that this is part of the FTA, recalling that many EU companies have the highest standards in the world when it comes to agri-food technology – and that Europeans are not only interested in trading, but also in investing in Vietnam.
Members of the business delegation which Commissioner Hogan is accompanying also confirmed that there are areas of complementarity. For example Vietnamese consumer preferences for poultry and pork cuts are frequently different from those in Europe. Moreover, the growth in disposable income among a population of more than 90 million is seen by members of the business delegation as an enormous opportunity – with consumers seemingly keen on EU food safety and traceability standards, as well as the quality and traditions of European food and drink.