The legal review for the Europe -Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) started after negotiations concluded on December 2, 2015. However, the EU changed its regulations on the process of approving FTAs, with the division of contents related to investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) into a separate deal called IPA.
Following discussions, both sides formally concluded the legal review of the EVFTA and agreed with all of the contents of the IPA separated from the previous EVFTA, as announced after a meeting between two sides' officials in Brussels, on June 25.
The Commission will now translate the trade agreement text into the other 22 EU official languages and launch the legal review of the IPA text, paving the way towards the signature and conclusion of these two agreements, said the announcement on EC's website.
Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom hailed the agreement as a great opportunity for European exporters. Vietnam is one of the fastest growing countries in South East Asia, a market with significant potential for the EU's agricultural, industrial and services exports, she said.
“Having concluded the legal review, we now hope to conclude the trade agreements swiftly to allow EU firms, workers, farmers and consumers to reap the benefits as soon as possible. Vietnam is a good example of a developing country seizing the opportunities of open global trade, hand in hand with clear commitments to respect human rights and to comply with International Labor Organization conventions”, noted the trade commissioner.
The EU is currently Vietnam's third-largest trade partner and one of the country’s two biggest importers. Two-way trade increased 12 times to US$50.4 billion in 2017 from merely US$4.1 billion in 2000. Vietnam’s main exports to the EU are shoes, textile, coffee, woodwork, seafood.
As of 2017, there were 24 among 28 EU countries investing in 2,000 projects in Vietnam, totaling over US$21.5 billion. EU investors are present in almost all key economic sectors of Vietnam, mostly in industry, construction and services.