EU lawmakers give initial backing to Vietnam trade deal

By Reuters   January 21, 2020 | 07:25 pm GMT+7
EU lawmakers give initial backing to Vietnam trade deal
European Union and Vietnamese flags are seen at the signing ceremony of EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement at the government office in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo by Reuters/Kham.

EU lawmakers gave initial backing on Tuesday for a free trade agreement struck with Vietnam, the bloc’s most comprehensive such pact with a developing country.

The international trade committee of the European Parliament supported the agreement by 29 votes to six, opening the way to a vote in the full parliament when it meets in the week starting on February 10. It can then enter force on a provisional basis.

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is the European Union’s second deal with a member of the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN), after Singapore, and one of few with a developing country.

Belgian lawmaker Geert Bourgeois, who led discussions in parliament, said Tuesday's vote was a positive signal to the ASEAN region and the rest of the world in times of rising trade tensions.

"This deal really is a win-win situation. In absolute terms Vietnamese exports of goods and services to the EU will increase by 15 billion euros while EU exports to Vietnam augment by 8.3 billion euros by 2035," he said in a statement.

The free trade agreement will ultimately eliminate 99 percent of all tariffs, although Vietnam will have a transition period of up to 10 years for some imports, such as cars.

It will open up Vietnam’s services, including post, banking and shipping and public procurement markets, align some standards and protect EU food and drinks, such as French champagne or Greek feta cheese, from imitations in Vietnam.

 
 
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