Yahoo News Australia, 5 August 2015. EU Vietnam announce free trade deal.

An edited extract of the original article appears below.

The EU and Vietnam have agreed on a free trade deal removing nearly all tariffs with Brussels calling it a “milestone” on the way to a region-wide agreement with Southeast Asia.

The EU said the agreement in principle followed two-and-a-half years of “intense” negotiations between the 28-nation European Union and Vietnam, whose two-way trade has grown three-fold to 28 billion euros ($A41.30 billion) in the past 10 years [Ed’s note: last year, trade between Australia and Vietnam was valued at USD6 billion]…

Malmstroem (EU Trade Commissioner) told a press conference in the Belgian capital that the two had agreed on “all the political issues”, but more legal work was needed to finalise the text and she hoped the deal could take effect in late 2017 or early 2018…

“Our ultimate goal is to have a region-to-region (EU-ASEAN) agreement,” the former Swedish politician said…

Malmstroem said “there is a large focus on human rights” in the deal and in the broader relationship, warning that the agreement could be suspended if Vietnam fails to respect its obligations.

Malmstroem said the agreement, the first that the EU has concluded with a developing country, will remove more than 99 per cent of tariffs on goods traded between the two economies over a period of up to seven years.

“The agreement will also create new market access opportunities in services and investment,” a statement said.

“Vietnam has agreed to liberalise trade in financial services, telecommunications, transport and postal and courier services,” it added.

Vietnam, it said, will also open its market to EU investment by, for example, lifting or easing restrictions on the manufacture of food products and beverages, as well as in non-food sectors.

The deal will ensure the respect of workers’ rights as well as the “sustainable management” of natural resources, including wildlife, forests and fisheries…

Vietnam exports mobile phones and other electronics, footware and textiles, and agricultural products including coffee, rice and seafood to the EU.

EU exports to Vietnam, meanwhile, are dominated by high-tech products including electrical machinery and equipment, aircraft, vehicles and pharmaceuticals…

 

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