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European firms seek to speed up EVFTA approval

05/06/2019 14:50

Nicolas Audier, co-chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham), arbitrator of VIAC, told participants at the launch ceremony of the Whitebook 2019 in Hanoi that European firms want to speed up approval of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

EuroCham representatives attended two hearings at the European Parliament in late 2018 to share the positive steps that Vietnam has taken to prepare for the trade pact, Audier said.

According to Audier, over the last three decades, the government has successfully transformed Vietnam from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income, modern, fast-growing nation. Vietnam has an opportunity, through new-generation free trade agreements like the EVFTA, to become an even more open and successful leader in the region and the world, he said.

The European Commission has described the EVFTA as the most ambitious free trade deal ever concluded with a developing country, and said it hopes to ratify the deal this year. The agreement would remove almost all tariff barriers and eliminate over 99 percent of customs duties on exports in both directions.

Ambassador Bruno Angelet, head of the European Union delegation to Vietnam, said the EU is one of Vietnam’s most important foreign markets, buying up to 17 percent of Vietnam’s exports in 2018. Two-way trade has constantly increased, placing the EU in fourth position among Vietnam’s major trade partners. Regarding investment, the EU currently has 139 projects in Vietnam with total capital of more than US$1.06 billion. Implementation of the EVFTA will be an important step to continue connecting the two economies, Angelet said.

Labor-intensive manufacturing has driven Vietnam’s remarkable socioeconomic development over the past 30 years. However, as noted by Denis Brunetti, co-chair of EuroCham, future jobs and growth would depend predominantly on a digital economy and high-tech in all sectors and industries.

However, to develop the digital economy, three conditions must be fulfilled - infrastructure, security, and people’s trust in the digital economy.

European firms have been a trusted, reliable and secure partner in helping develop Vietnam’s earliest telecommunications and ICT networks, driving significant internet usage across the country, Brunetti said. “Our members remain committed and dedicated to helping the country take advantage of the new wave of inclusive and sustainable digital innovation,” he added.

Nicolas Audier said if adopted, the insights and recommendations of EuroCham members would help the government unlock the full benefits of the EVFTA and go further and faster on its path of growth and development.

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