The Free Trade Agreement (“FTA”) between the EU and Vietnam will be signed on 30 June 2019.

At a time when the UK are attempting to establish their own post-Brexit trade deals, the EU has secured an agreement with Vietnam that is said to be the most ambitious free trade deal ever concluded with a developing country. After Singapore, Vietnam is the EU’s second largest trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with trade of goods worth EUR 8.3 billion a year and EUR 4 billion in services.

The FTA will result in the following:

•             65% of duties on EU exports to Vietnam will disappear as soon as the FTA enters into force, while the remainder will be phased out gradually over a period of up to 10 years.

•             As regards Vietnamese exports to the EU, 71% of duties will disappear upon entry into force, the remainder being phased out over a period of up to 7 years.

The FTA will also reduce many of the existing non-tariff barriers to trade with Vietnam and open up Vietnamese services and public procurement markets to EU companies.

As one of the “new generation” bilateral agreements, the EU-Vietnam trade deal also contains important provisions on intellectual property protection, investment liberalisation and sustainable development.

Negotiations over a FTA between the EU and Vietnam began in June 2012 and were concluded on 2 December 2015. However, there was a significant delay over the formal conclusion of the agreement, due to a pending opinion of the European Court of Justice in relation to the EU-Singapore FTA.

As a European Union member, the UK are automatically part of about 40 trade agreements, which the EU has with more than 70 countries. However, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, then it would lose these trade deals immediately. The trade deals would be worth about 11% of total UK trade. Currently the UK has managed to only secure 11 “continuity” deals with certain countries and regions.

Author

Jessica's practice focuses on international trade and anti-bribery work, encompassing customs, export control and sanctions matters. Jessica's trade work includes advising international clients on fast-moving and evolving EU and UN sanctions, notably in respect of Iran and Russia, and on compliance with UK and EU export controls. Her trade experience also includes advising on tariff classification and customs valuations. Jessica's anti-bribery experience includes assisting with investigations, and advising clients on compliance with anti-bribery laws. Jessica has also taken a lead role in monitoring Brexit-related developments; analysing how they will affect the UK's trading position generally, and clients' businesses specifically. She has helped clients begin to conduct risk assessments of how Brexit will impact their businesses, and has assisted them in developing tailored Brexit strategies. Jessica also presents at various seminars, webinars, and conferences on the complexities of Brexit. Jessica advises global clients on complex issues arising from international transactions and works with clients across a number of sectors including pharmaceuticals, defence, finance, aviation, energy, and telecommunications. Jessica has also worked previously in Paris, and is fluent in French.

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