EVFTA not a toll-free expressway for Vietnam to integrate: parliament member

By Pham Van    May 22, 2020 | 04:16 am PT
The free trade pact with the EU is expected to open an expressway connecting Vietnam with a $15 trillion market, and it is fee-charging, says National Assembly delegate Vu Tien Loc.

Loc, a representative of Thai Binh Province, explained "fee" as investment by the government in upgrading the infrastructure, institutions and quality of human resources.

"From enterprise perspective, 'fee' comes from the management improvement, investment in changing supply and production chains, thereby meeting the rules of origin requirements of the agreement," he said at the National Assembly session Wednesday.

Vu Tien Loc at the National Assembly on May 20. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Giang.

Vu Tien Loc at the National Assembly on May 20. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Giang.

Delegate Truong Trong Nghia, who represents Ho Chi Minh City, noted two big issues for Vietnam to take advantage of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

"First of all, Vietnam must attain a certain development step in the industrial revolution 4.0, digital economy, artificial intelligence. In addition, the economy must have the capacity to face non-traditional risks like Covid-19," he said.

Nghia noted that when the pact comes into effect, it will "start a race, not a party". "Vietnam can get stuck in the middle income trap. Under this scenario, others enjoyed the party and we bear the debt."

He proposed the institutional changes and upgrading in infrastructure and human resources to adapt to the "new game".

Vu Tien Loc, also chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce & Industry (VCCI), suggested to accelerate the process of amending and adjusting the legal documents. He cited an example of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreement, which has been in force for more than a year but its documents on implementation regulations have so far delayed.

Loc said the government needs to accelerate economic restructuring as well as movement of labor and population to cope with unexpected changes from the EVFTA.

The EVFTA is the E.U.’s second deal with an ASEAN country, after Singapore, and one of very few it has signed with developing countries.

With the European Parliament having voted in favor of the pact in February, it will become effective a month after Vietnam lawmakers ratify the deal.

Vietnamese lawmakers are scheduled to ratify the landmark deal and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) on June 8. 

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