The European Commission (EC) in Brussels recently adopted the European Union (EU)-Vietnam trade and investment agreements, giving way to their signature and conclusion. These agreements will eliminate over 99 per cent of customs duties on goods traded between the two sides and also includes a strong, legally binding commitment to sustainable development.

The sustainable development commitment includes respect of human rights, labour rights, environmental protection and the fight against climate change, with an explicit reference to the Paris Agreement. The trade and investment agreements take fully into account the economic differences between the two sides, EC president Jean-Claude Juncker told the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)-EU Summit in Brussels. ASEM is an Asian-European political dialogue forum to enhance relations and various forms of cooperation between its partners. Vietnam will remove 65 per cent of import duties on EU exports from entry into force of the agreement, with the remainder of duties being gradually eliminated over a ten-year period, to take into account that Vietnam is a developing country. EU companies can participate on an equal footing with Vietnamese firms in bids for procuring tenders in Vietnam ‘State-owned enterprises.