The European Parliament is set to approve on Wednesday (12 February) a trade agreement with Vietnam, despite some MEPs and NGOs seeking to postpone their consent until the human rights situation improves in the country.
The agreement, concluded after six years of negotiations, would be the most ambitious deal signed with a developing nation.
It will eliminate 99% of the tariffs over a seven-year period and will reduce other non-tariff barriers for cars wines and spirits. It will also protect Europe’s geographical indications on products including Champagne, Rioja and Parmigiano.
“The deal will give a boost to the prosperity both of the EU and Vietnam, and represents a great opportunity for European exporters and investors”, said Parliament’s rapporteur, Belgian conservative Geert Bourgeois.
Vietnam is known for its textile and technology exports, especially smartphones. Samsung represents around 20% of the goods the country sends overseas.
The European Union and Vietnam on Sunday (30 June) signed a long-awaited free trade deal that will slash duties on almost all goods, an agreement that pushes back against a rising tide of global protectionism and hailed as a “milestone” by Brussels.
But human rights organizations and some political groups were calling to postpone the approval until the country improves further its human rights and labour conditions.
During the debate held in the plenary of Tuesday, political groups including the EPP, Socialists, the liberal Renew Europe group and conservatives spoke in favour of giving their consent to their agreement, while the Identity and Democracy, the Greens and the Left-GUE were against.
Following the Parliament’s blessing, the agreement must be approved by the Council. The investment protection agreement must also be ratified by the 27 member states.
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