Vietnam-EU FTA Negotiations on Track

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HANOI – 2014 has seen much activity on negotiations for the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA), with completion of the sixth, seventh and eighth rounds of negotiations since the beginning of this year.

The sixth round of negotiations was held in Brussels from the 13th to 17th of January. Negotiators had intense discussions on market access for goods, services and investments, and government procurement.

They also had constructive talk on sustainable development with a focus on sustainable forest management and trade in forest products, climate change as well as multilateral labor standards.

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The EU also encouraged the use of international standards in the automotive sector in the hope that Vietnam could improve the investment environment in that sector as well.

The seventh round of negotiations was held in Hanoi from the 17th to 21st of March. The negotiations were conducted at the Head Delegation level, Deputy Head Delegation level and included 10 working groups focusing on trade in goods, trade in services, investment, rules of origin, SPS, trade protectionism, sustainable development, and legislation- institution.

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Vietnam and the EU saw much progress in this round of negotiations, with several technical groups, such as those on transparency and dispute settlement, coming to a conclusion on their respective FTA texts. Other groups also narrowed the gap on many questions.

The eighth round of Vietnam- EU FTA negotiations was concluded on June 28th in Brussels. Both sides are planning to finish the negotiations this October.

The two teams were led by Mauro Petriccione, Director at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Trade, and his Vietnamese counterpart Tran Quoc Khanh, Vice Minister of Vietnam Industry and Trade Ministry.

During the week-long talks, negotiators made good headway on all areas under discussion, including trade and sustainable development, trade in goods, animal and plant, health and hygiene, anti-fraud and trade defense (anti-dumping measures).

The next round of talks is expected to occur before the end of September.

At the moment, EU is the second largest trade partner and the largest export market of Vietnam. In 2013, two-way trade turnover between Vietnam and EU was US$33.8 billion, an increase of 16.11 percent compared to the previous year.

The EU is also a big investor in Vietnam. As of 2013, EU investors spent US$17 billion on 1,400 projects in the country. Therefore, a solid foundation exists for the Free Trade Agreement to provide more business opportunities, as well as strengthen the economic cooperation on both sides.

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