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National Assembly adds people's voice to FTA negotiations

Update: May, 13/2014 - 10:01

Ngo Duc Manh, vice chairperson of the NA Committee on External Relations, spoke to the Viet Nam Economic Times about the important role of the NA in Free Trade Agreements.

What are your thoughts on the need to enhance the role of the NA in international trade negotiations, seeing as the assembly represents the voice of many people?

According to the Constitution, the NA is the highest body that represents the people. We all know that following negotiations, implementing the commitments is also very critical.

This task is closely related to the role and responsibilities of the NA in monitoring these commitments, especially in relation to opening markets and removing trade barriers. This is especially the case with new generation FTAs that cover quite a broad spectrum of commitments, including investment conditions and sustainable development.

In this process, the NA Committee on External Relations supports the NA in the process of approving these trade agreements and is also responsible for inspecting the implementation of these international obligations and the commitments laid out in particular FTAs.

However, it seems that the NA has not been heavily involved in these negotiations. For example, throughout 11 years of negotiations with the WTO, the NA only participated in the last three years. What's your view on that?

The NA did participate in the important period of WTO negotiations. The situation has been substantially improved as now we do have representatives from the NA involved in negotiations related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Government members of the trade negotiations delegation are also always willing to brief NA members on the latest developments.

According to international precedent, the legislative body usually has three roles. First of all, it can improve the legal framework in support of local businesses to enhance their competitiveness and attract domestic and international investors.

Secondly, it can listen for suggestions and concerns from stakeholders at the micro level of the economy, such as businesses and producers. Thirdly, the NA inspects these trade agreements and assesses their impact on the economy before approval.

The connection between negotiators, NA members and businesses is very important and can provide a foundation for implementing these FTA commitments.

What are your thoughts on the new generation of FTAs that we are working on?

Obviously, we are working hard to further integrate with other economies. That can be done by signing FTAs with top partners like the EU or the US. Currently, Viet Nam has signed eight FTAs, with seven others under negotiation and five classified as new generation FTAs.

The new generation of FTAs will expand our export markets, improve the level of competitiveness, promote changes, speed up the restructure of the economy and improve the level of national governance.

However, it also poses many challenges and the question is how we can best harness the opportunities that FTAs can bring. That requires having a comprehensive legal framework to support the economy, understanding the governance of a market economy and enhancing the competitiveness of our domestic industries. All of these problems are being faced by emerging economies such as ours. — VNS


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