The EU and Vietnam completed the ninth round of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The talks were held in Danang, Vietnam, from 22-26 September.
Both teams made good progress on finding common ground on all outstanding issues and are looking for a swift conclusion to the negotiations.
In this latest round, talks intensified in all areas of the proposed FTA. Four chapters – trade in goods, services, investment, and state owned enterprises – saw particular progress in the technical discussions. Work was almost completed on trade and sustainable development and the chapter on cooperation was closed. The chief negotiators also had intense discussions on all outstanding key areas.
The talks aim at an ambitious and comprehensive agreement on goods, services and investment. In addition to eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers, negotiators are tackling other trade-related issues, such as public procurement, regulatory issues, competition, trade and sustainable development, and Geographical Indications. Once in place, the agreement will further strengthen EU-Vietnam trade and investment ties and create more predictable business opportunities on both sides.
The negotiating teams were headed by Helena König, acting Director in the European Commission’s Directorate General for Trade and Vietnamese Vice-Minister for Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh.
The chief negotiators will meet again at the beginning of October. Vietnamese Prime Minister Dung is also set to visit Brussels on 13-14 October. He will meet Commission President Barroso to take stock of progress so far and to agree a common approach and timelines for conclusion of the talks.
The EU and Vietnam, one of the 10 members of ASEAN, announced the start of bilateral FTA negotiations in Brussels in June 2012.
The EU and Vietnam have strong trade ties. Vietnam is the EU's fifth largest trading partner within ASEAN (and 30th out of the EU's total trade). In 2013, two-way trade amounted to €27 billion. The EU is one of the largest foreign direct investors, committing €1.37 billion in total.
Vietnam is the third ASEAN country to hold FTA negotiations with the EU after Singapore and Malaysia, and followed by Thailand.
While pursuing a bilateral approach, the EU is not losing sight of the ultimate goal of achieving an agreement with ASEAN as a whole, one of the most dynamic regions in the world. The EU is therefore looking to reach an ambitious agreement with Vietnam that is coherent with other individual FTAs with ASEAN member states.
Figures for EU-Vietnam trade in goods (2013):
•EU exports to Vietnam: €5.8 billion
•EU imports from Vietnam: €21.3 billion
•Total trade in goods: €27.1 billion
EU exports are mainly high tech products including electrical machinery and equipment, aircraft, vehicles, pharmaceutical products and iron and steel. Vietnam's key exports to the EU include telephone sets, electronic products, footwear, textiles and clothing, coffee, rice, fishery products, and furniture.