From the 8th to the 18th of October, EuroCham led a delegation of almost 20 European companies and Business Associations to Brussels to advocate for a quick ratification and implementation of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). Miriam Garcia Ferrer, Head of the Trade and Economic Section of the EU Delegation to Vietnam, also joined this mission.
The mission began on the 8th of October with the launch of EuroCham’s new report, The EVFTA: Perspectives from Vietnam, at a joint event with amfori and Business Europe. The event, which attracted over 70 participants, included a presentation from EuroCham Co-Chairman Nicolas Audier on the findings of new research published in the report from Deloitte, showing that 85% of EuroCham members anticipate that the EVFTA will have either a “significant” or “moderate” impact on their business in the long-term. The research also found that EuroCham members believe the EVFTA will improve a range of social and environmental issues in Vietnam, from “economic development and welfare improvement” (88%) and “sustainable development and environmental protection” (85%) to “knowledge transfer and local workforce advancement” (88%).
Over the following week, EuroCham’s delegation met with four EU Commissioners: Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom; Budget & HR Commissioner Guenther Oettinger; Agriculture & Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan; and Education, Culture, Youth & Sports Commissioner Tibor Navracsics. The delegation also met with senior EU officials from the Directorate Generals of Trade, Grow, Environment and Research and the European External Action Service as well as with stakeholder organisations including Food&Drink Europe, spiritsEurope, and the European Services Forum.
In these meetings, EuroCham’s delegation provided on-the-ground updates on Vietnam’s progress in a range of areas, from reforming the Labour Code to meet its obligations under the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Core Conventions to improving gender rights.
Both EU Commissioners and officials were positive about Vietnam’s efforts to reform its legislative framework, and optimistic about the prospects for ratification of the EVFTA.
On Wednesday the 10th of October, EuroCham’s delegation participated in and spoke at the European Parliament of Enterprises – a gathering of over 700 business leaders from across Europe. Sérgio Pereira da Silva, Chair of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Portugal Vietnam, addressed the audience in the hemicycle of the European Parliament, highlighting the benefits that the EVFTA can bring to SMEs - in particular food and drinks exporters - from smaller EU Member States.
This meeting reaffirmed Europe’s commitment to common trade policies and free, fair and rules-based international trade. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom announced at this event that the EVFTA will be approved by the Commission and submitted to the Council and European Parliament on 17th October. This announcement was welcomed with the applause from the large audience of European business leaders.
The highlight of the first week in Brussels was a public hearing organised by the European Parliament’s International Trade (INTA) Committee. Bernd Lange MEP, Chair of the INTA Committee, opened proceedings before handing over to the EU’s Standing Rapporteur on the EVFTA, Jan Zahradil MEP. The public event also heard from both Chief Negotiators of the EVFTA, the European Commission’s Deputy Director-General for Trade Helena Koenig and Vietnam Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh.
EuroCham Co-Chairman, Nicolas Audier, also presented at this hearing. Combining his personal reflections – as someone who has lived and worked in Vietnam since 1993 – with the views of European businesses, he highlighted how far Vietnam has come over the last few decades and emphasised the importance of the EVFTA in helping Vietnam to continue its process of reform and liberalisation.
In the second week of EuroCham’s mission, the delegation welcomed Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to Brussels on the 17th of October with a business luncheon, organised with VCCI and the Vietnamese embassy to Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU.
This luncheon brought 20 companies from across Europe and 80 Belgian enterprises together with the Prime Minister to discuss greater trade and investment relations, ahead of the EVFTA coming into force. Then, on the 18th of October, the Prime Minister referenced EuroCham’s latest Business Climate Index at the Asia-EU Economic Forum, highlighting the strong appetite of European companies to grow their investment in Vietnam.
Concluding the visit, EuroCham attended the EU-ASEAN Business Council meeting with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and promised to keep the EU updated on Vietnam’s progress in reforming its legislative framework to ensure a smooth implementation of the EVFTA.
EuroCham would like to thank all members of the delegation who dedicated their time and effort to prepare for and join the many meetings and for their active engagement and contribution to the success of this mission to Brussels. We are also grateful to our partner organisations in Brussels for their continued support and insights.