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Ratification of Vietnam-EU free trade pact to take two years: ambassador

Friday, October 30, 2015, 16:27 GMT+7
Ratification of Vietnam-EU free trade pact to take two years: ambassador
This photo shows Vietnamese workers making garments for export to overseas markets at Garmex Saigon JSC in 2015.

It will take all the member states of the European Union (EU) about two years to ratify the Vietnam-EU free trade agreement, an EU ambassador said in a recent press meeting in Hanoi.

"This is an important time for leaders of those EU members to prepare for the implementation process," Bruno Angelet, the new ambassador and head of the EU Delegation to Vietnam, said at the meeting on Wednesday.

On August 4 Vietnam and the EU reached agreement in principle for a free trade pact after concluding three years of negotiations, with a view to ensuring an effective environment for trade and investment relations.

However, this does not mean that dialogue will stop, as there is a lot of work to do in the two-year period, Angelet said.

This will be the time for all 28 member states to finalize all related legal and technical issues, and enable all parties to fully understand the rights and obligations related to the accord, he added.

All EU member states have longed for the finalization of the deal, which is expected to create a new wave of investment in Vietnam, especially from high-quality and high value-added resources in the EU, he said.

The group wants to promote investment cooperation between its member states and Vietnam, and lauded the Southeast Asian country's role in the cooperation between the EU and ASEAN, Angelet added

“We have the political will to enable the accord to be signed and ratified,” local news website VnExpress quoted the ambassador as saying.

Documentation necessary for the free trade agreement will be completed in early December, when the Vietnamese leadership pays an official visit to Europe, he added.

The pact includes the elimination of nearly all tariffs, over 99 percent, between the two sides, in which Vietnam will liberalize taxes over a 10-year period and the EU will do the same inside seven.

The agreement also covers non-tariff barriers to trade and other trade-related issues such as public procurement, regulatory issues, competition, services, investment, intellectual property rights, and sustainable development.

Accordingly, 99 percent of import tariffs between Vietnam and the EU will be abolished and about 65 percent of Vietnamese goods shipped to the union will be entitled to tax exemptions after the agreement comes into force.

For Vietnam, the most important point is to help businesses access the content of the agreement, and guide them through appropriate approaches to the European market, which requires very high standards and quality, Angelet asserted.

"We want the private sector of Vietnam to survive and grow after the agreement takes effect. Vietnam will export more to the EU and Vietnamese businesses will benefit," he told VnExpress.

Recent important agreements, including the pact, have created a solid foundation for bilateral partnership and the EU and Vietnam can expect successful cooperation in the future, he added.

Bruno Angelet has acted as the head of the EU Delegation to Vietnam since October 19.

He has four years of experience in working in Vietnam in the role of the ambassador of Belgium (2011-15) and as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Belgium in Hanoi.

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