The APC provides that human rights, democracy and the rule of law are “essential elements” of UE-Vietnam relations as a whole. Therefore, the link between the free trade agreement and the CPA is important to ensure that human rights are also part of the trade relations between the parties. The EU and Vietnam have agreed on a strong and comprehensive chapter on trade and sustainable development, with a wide list of commitments, including: infrastructure projects account for a significant share of public investment in Vietnam. The TFUE urges the parties to respect the general principles of national treatment, non-discrimination and increased transparency of public procurement. The aim is to ensure that EU companies can offer public procurement (goods, services and construction services with some exceptions) on an equal footing with national bidders, taking into account the monetary value thresholds set under the agreement. Nevertheless, TUEFTA authorizes Vietnam to delay the implementation of several specific provisions by ten years and Vietnam`s public procurement obligations are not enforced for five years. In February 2020, the European Parliament ratified a free trade agreement (FTA) and an Investment Protection Agreement (PPI) with Vietnam. MEPs (ENPs) voted in favour of the agreements in Strasbourg. With regard to intellectual property rights, Vietnam is committed to achieving a high level of protection that goes beyond the standards of the WTO TRIPS agreement. This agreement better protects innovation, artwork and trademarks in the EU from illegal copying, including through stricter enforcement rules. On 8 June, the Vietnamese National Assembly approved the agreements by an overwhelming majority, with 457 deputies for the free trade agreement and 462 for the IAP. According to some Vietnamese newspapers, the agreements could come into force in July.
At the most fundamental level, the agreements will promote jobs and growth between Vietnam and the EU. The agreements will gradually reduce most tariffs, regulatory barriers and bureaucracy, and encourage EU entrepreneurs to do business and invest in Vietnam. EVFTA is the most comprehensive and ambitious trade and investment agreement the EU has ever concluded with a developing country in Asia. This is the second free trade agreement with the EU after Singapore in the ASEAN region and will strengthen bilateral relations between Vietnam and the EU. EVFTA is helping to make Vietnam the production site in Asia, combined with the tendency of investors to constantly withdraw capital and production from China in recent months. It took more than eight years and a dozen rounds of dialogue for both sides to negotiate the EVFTA. Nicolas Audier, President of EuroCham in Vietnam, welcomed the results of the vote: “The EVFTA is now more important than ever, as trade wars and a global pandemic disrupt normal affairs on an unprecedented scale. Free, fair and rules-based trade is the best roadmap for economic growth, and Vietnam will now have privileged access to an EU consumer market of around 500 million people who want to do business and invest with a strong, secure and prosperous nation in the heart of Asia. The TFUE is expected to remain in force until the end of the year, while the UK (UK) is still in a customs union with the EU. The situation from 1 January 2021 will depend on the decision of the United Kingdom and Vietnam to agree on their own bilateral agreement, although this is unlikely in the short term, given that Vietnam is not one of the UK`s priority free trade countries (including the EU, the United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand).