The roadmap to realize free trade between Vietnam and the European Union is unaffected by Britain’s vote to leave the bloc, a top EU diplomat in Vietnam said on Tuesday.
The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement was signed in Brussels on December 2, 2015, after nearly three years and 14 rounds of negotiation, with both sides given two years to prepare before the deal officially comes into force.
The trade pact is in the process of legal review and translation, and will be implemented by 2018 as planned, Ambassador Bruno Angelet, head of the Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam, told reporters in Hanoi.
Ambassador Angelet underlined that the investment flow from the EU to Vietnam is developing positively, and the free trade agreement will still attract interest from the European investment and business community, who wish to do business with the Southeast Asian country.
The EU’s top diplomat in Vietnam was speaking at a press conference held in the wake of Brexit, when Britain voted to leave the EU in the June 24 referendum.
While Angelet did not deny the huge impact Brexit has been having on global and Asian financial markets, he believed it is too early to have a full and accurate comment on what he said is an unprecedented event in the history of the EU.
It will take time to see what the next steps taken by the UK government are, he said, adding that the outcome of a European summit that kicked off on Wednesday in Brussels is also crucial.
The ambassador also reiterated a statement by Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström on the EU’s post-Brexit trade policy, saying the bloc’s trade negotiations with key partners will continue.
"Trade makes a vital and positive contribution to the EU's economic and external policy and we will make sure that it continues to deliver real benefits to EU citizens," he cited Malmström as saying.
The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement is expected to remove nearly all tariffs between Europe and the Southeast Asian country, marking “the beginning of far more ambitious ties” between the EU and Vietnam, EU Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker announced after talks on December 2 with Vietnam's then-Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
The agreement followed two and a half years of intense negotiations between the European Union and Vietnam, whose two-way trade has grown three-fold to 28 billion euros (about $30 billion) since 2005, according to AFP.