The agreement on the substance of the deal, for which negotiations started in October 2012, came through during a meeting between EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang.
Although the final legal texts will be ironed out by negotiators after the summer break, the agreement is on main ten points that will be included in the FTA. These are: elimination of customs duties, reducing non-tariff barriers to European exports, protecting European Geographical Indications (GI), allowing EU companies to bid for Vietnamese public contracts, creating a level playing field for EU companies and innovative products, opening the Vietnamese market for EU services operators, promoting and protecting investment, establishing an efficient mechanism to resolve future disagreements, safeguarding social and environmental protection standards, and promoting democracy and respect for human rights.
The agreement, once finalised and operational, will allow EU exporters and investors to access a fast-growing Vietnamese market of 90 million people, and help them to consolidate their presence. It will also be a further building block towards the EU's ultimate objective of an ambitious and comprehensive region-to-region EU-Asean FTA.
As per the understanding reached, the EU-Vietnam FTA will eliminate nearly all tariffs, i.e. on over 99 per cent of items, except for a small number of tariff lines for which the EU and Vietnam agreed on partial liberalisation through zero-duty Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs).
Vietnam will liberalise 65 per cent of import duties on EU exports to Vietnam at entry into force, with the remainder of duties being gradually eliminated over a 10-year period. On the other hand, EU duties will be eliminated over a 7-year period.
All EU textile fabric exports to Vietnam will be liberalised at entry into force of the FTA.
The EU will also eliminate duties with longer staging periods (up to 7 years) for some sensitive products, especially in the textile apparel and footwear sectors. The elimination of duties, however, will not be an open door for Chinese products to flood the EU market: to benefit from the preferential access, the strict rules of origin for garments will require the use of fabrics produced in Vietnam, with the only exception being of fabrics produced in South Korea, another FTA partner of the EU.
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