European Institute for Asian Studies
The EU and Vietnam: Taking (Trade) Relations to the Next Level

Programme

13:15-13:45 Registration
13:45-13:50 Word of Welcome
  Mr Axel Goethals, CEO, European Institute for Asian Studies
13:50-14:00 Opening Remarks
Mr Jan Zahradil, Chairman, Friends of Vietnam, European Parliament; Standing Rapporteur of the EU-Vietnam FTA in the European Parliament
14:00-14:40 Panel 1: The EU-Vietnam FTA: Focus, Perspectives and Gains*
Mr Mauro Petriccione, Deputy Director General, DG Trade
Ms Luisa Santos, Director, International Relations, BusinessEurope
Mr Pascal Kerneis, Managing Director, European Services Forum (ESF)
Mr Pierre Gröning, Head of International Trade Policy, Foreign Trade Association
Moderator: Mr David Fouquet, Senior Associate, European Institute for Asian Studies
14:40-15:10 Panel 2: Beyond the FTA: EU-Vietnam Relations and Vietnam as a Success Story of Development*
Mr Konstantin von Mentzingen, International Relations Officer – Vietnam, European External Action Service
Ms Laurence Vandewalle, Directorate-General for External Relations
Representative from DG DEVCO
Moderator: Mr David Fouquet, Senior Associate, European Institute for Asian Studies
15:10-15:15 Closing Remarks
H.E. Mr Vuong Thua Phong, Ambassador of Vietnam to the Kingdom of Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the European Union

*Both panels include a 10-minute Q&A session

The EU and Vietnam: Taking (Trade) Relations to the Next Level

2015 marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the EU and Vietnam. It was a very fruitful year in the bilateral relations: in August 2015, both sides reached an agreement on a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) after two and a half years of negotiations, and at the December 2015 plenary session, the European Parliament will vote on its consent to the conclusion of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).

When ratified, the EU-Vietnam Agreement could become the second FTA between the EU and an ASEAN partner – after Singapore, the first agreement concluded with a developing country in the region and “a further building block towards the EU’s ultimate objective of comprehensive EU-ASEAN FTA.” It will also be a good benchmark for the other negotiations in the ASEAN region. While some issues require more work – such as investment protection and an Investment Dispute Resolution Mechanism – the agreement will reduce customs and administrative barriers in access to both markets and contribute to closer bilateral trade and investment cooperation. It will also provide an incentive for European companies to enhance their presence in the Vietnamese market, with more than 90 million consumers with growing purchasing power. The FTA could increase the value of Vietnam’s exports to the EU by around 4% annually, and of the EU’s exports to Vietnam by more than 3%.

Vietnam is entering a new phase of national development and has the objective of becoming industrialised by 2020. To do so, it needs to move from a growth model based on low-cost labour to one based on innovation and productivity growth. This calls for major structural changes and continued investments in infrastructure and human capital. The main objectives of EU cooperation with Vietnam for the time-frame 2014-2020 are to accompany Vietnam in this transition, and the EU has increased the level of non-reimbursable aid from about EUR 300 million during 2007-2013 to EUR 400 million for the period 2014-2020.

Vietnam is also an important partner in the EU’s goal of closer cooperation with ASEAN as a whole, as outlined in its document The EU and ASEAN: a partnership with a strategic purpose”.

Hence, this seminar will be an excellent opportunity to look back at what has been achieved during the last 25 years and looking at the road ahead at the untapped potentials of the relationship.


In August 2015, the EU and Vietnam reached an agreement on a comprehensive FTA and at the December 2015 plenary session, the European Parliament voted on its consent to the conclusion of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA). This seminar will critically assess both agreements and also look at the untapped potentials of the relationship.

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