|Bernd Lange, chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade.
In the span of over three years since the implementation of the EU-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), the economic and trade relationship between the European Union (EU) and Việt Nam has flourished. The agreement has successfully drawn substantial investments from the EU, establishing Việt Nam as a reliable and stable destination amidst uncertainties prevailing worldwide. Bernd Lange, chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade, recently shared his insights with Việt Nam News on this noteworthy development.
What is your evaluation of the economic and trade relationship between Việt Nam and the European Union after more than three years of implementing the EU-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA)?
This agreement has been a true success story. Despite the Investment Protection Agreement not yet being ratified, significant investments from the EU are flowing into Việt Nam. Việt Nam has become a stable destination in an unstable world.
After three years of implementing the EVFTA, the trade volume between Việt Nam and the EU has grown by approximately 20 per cent. Up to 71 per cent of tariffs on Vietnamese goods exported to the EU and 65 per cent of tariffs on EU goods exported to Việt Nam have been eliminated.
This is truly remarkable, as it demonstrates the connection between the Việt Nam’s National Assembly and the European Parliament in the implementation process, as well as the collaboration between businesses from both sides, which has greatly facilitated the enforcement of the agreement in a friendly manner. It is also the foundation for us to further promote the effectiveness of this agreement.
What measures can Vietnamese businesses take to maximise the potential of bilateral agreements and increase their participation in the supply chains of EU enterprises, considering that the EU ranked as the sixth largest investor in Việt Nam as of August 2023?
Vietnamese businesses should focus on improving the quality of their products, adhering to international standards, and obtaining necessary certifications. This will increase their competitiveness and attract more EU partners. It is also crucial to enhance research capabilities, workforce skills, and qualifications. For instance, German company Bosch is highly interested in human resources that meet research requirements. Therefore, Vietnamese businesses should invest in developing a highly skilled and research-capable workforce and attaining appropriate qualifications. This will create favourable conditions for them to participate in the supply chains of EU enterprises and capitalise on agreements.
Could you please provide an update on the ratification progress of the EU-Việt Nam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA)? Additionally, what are the current obstacles or challenges being faced in this process?
This is not only an issue concerning the European Union as a whole but also involves its member countries. It requires the ratification of all member countries, and then the European Parliament will take on the role of enforcement and application. Generally, these processes tend to encounter more challenges at the level of member countries. I believe this is not an issue on Việt Nam's side as it often relates to the policies of each country. The longest waiting time for the ratification so far has been up to 11 years. I hope that in Việt Nam's case, this process will be more efficient, depending on the willingness to co-operate of each country within the union.
With your experience as the long-standing Chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade and your extensive visits and work in Việt Nam, how would you assess the role of the Vietnamese National Assembly in advancing the enforcement of agreements with the European Union? What are your specific expectations for the relationship between the European Parliament and the Vietnamese National Assembly, as well as the broader relationship between the European Union and Việt Nam in the future?
The Vietnamese National Assembly's role in legislation and regulatory formulation pertaining to the Free Trade Agreement is significant. On the other hand, the European Parliament holds the responsibility of approving enforcement policies and implementing trade agreements. To foster fruitful co-operation and overcome any existing obstacles, it is crucial to establish an ongoing dialogue between both sides. This dialogue has been initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to continue in the future. By engaging in effective dialogues, we aim to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes and expedite the passage and implementation of relevant regulations. VNS