Vietnam ratifies EU Free Trade Deal

Vietnam's National Assembly (NA) on Monday approved a wide-ranging free trade agreement with the EU, signed in 2019, news wires reported. It was passed by 457 Vietnamese lawmakers or 100% of deputies present at the voting, with 26 abstentions. In an unusual development and show of transparency, the voting procedures were broadcast live on the national TV.

The deal, known as the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), has been described by Brussels as its most ambitious agreement with a developing country, dpa recalls. The agreement will eliminate 99% 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% over the coming years and gain access to the EU market of over 500m 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% by 2020 and 44% by 2030.

The trade deal gives the EU, whose Vietnam-bound exports include aircraft and automobiles, greater access to an attractive consumer market.

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. The agreement is expected to enter into force on 1 August.

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