On the 30th of July, following a joint action plan to promote the recently signed EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA), the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) and the EU Delegation to Vietnam, in collaboration with EuroCham, have organised the very first Vietnam–EU Trade Forum with the theme: “The EVFTA: New Horizon for Extensive and Comprehensive Cooperation” in Ho Chi Minh City. This Forum aimed to equip the business community with updated information related to the status of the recently signed EVFTA, its impact on the trade relationship between Vietnam and the EU, and how both Vietnamese and European businesses should prepare themselves for utilising the unprecedented benefits of this historic agreement.
The Forum was a huge success with the active participation of over 300 delegates from the Government, European businesses, Vietnamese businesses, associations, and southern localities. From EuroCham, Vice-Chairmen Jean-Jacques Bouflet and Nguyen Hai Minh and corporate members led a delegation of more than 165 EuroCham representatives from affiliated chambers and member companies. These members actively participated in an intensive agenda as main speakers during the plenary session and two panel discussions.
Vice-Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong affirmed that the recently signed EVFTA and EVIPA will open a new horizon for enhancing the bilateral cooperation, trade and investment relationship between the EU and Vietnam, which has already been flourishing over the past 30 years. The Vice-Minister said that the EVFTA and EVIPA, once implemented, will strengthen the position of the EU as one of the biggest trade and investment partners of Vietnam. The two comprehensive agreements will facilitate the market access for a wide range of products and services from both Vietnam and the EU, and create a huge incentive for further investment from Europe to Vietnam.
In the plenary session, EuroCham’s Vice-Chairman Jean-Jacques Bouflet delivered a presentation entitled “The Free Trade Agreement: Business Perspectives on Exports and Bilateral Cooperation Opportunities”. Mr. Bouflet emphasised that, with the trend of European enterprises working with local partners for manufacturing in Vietnam, there would be a wide range of opportunities for Vietnamese enterprises to upgrade their capability in terms of technology, governance and standards. The EuroCham Vice-Chairman also shared prospects and requirements for ratification of the EVFTA and EVIPA, as well as expected changes in certain sectors once they comes into effect. Accordingly, the trade deal will open market access for both sides; reduce and eliminate tariffs; remove non-tariff barriers; better protect foreign direct investment intellectual property rights. EuroCham, as one of the biggest chambers in the country, representing the voice of the European business community in Vietnam, will continue with various activities to support the ratification and implementation of the EVFTA.
The plenary session also included informative presentations from the EU Delegation to Vietnam on opportunities of the EVFTA for EU businesses, recommendations and commercial support from the EU to Vietnam. Representatives from the Multilateral Trade Policy Department, Foreign Trade Agency under Ministry of Industry and Trade, also discussed the opportunities and challenges of the EVFTA for Vietnamese enterprises, especially the rules of origin as the key of the tariff reduction. EuroCham member Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions also delivered a presentation on innovative business thinking of breakthrough opportunities that EVFTA provides.
In the next session, EuroCham Vice-Chairman Nguyen Hai Minh joined a panel discussion themed “Opportunities for Sectors of Textiles, Garments, Footwear, Bags, Purses, Suitcases and Hats”. The panel was moderated by Mr. Tran Ngoc Quan, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Department of European–American Markets. Taking into account the complementarity between the EU and Vietnamese capabilities as well as Vietnam’s strategic location in Asia, Mr. Nguyen Hai Minh affirmed that EVFTA will open opportunities to promote EU-Vietnam value chain integration by increasing the EU’s direct investment and the rise of trade in intermediate goods and services between the EU and Vietnam. However, Vietnamese enterprises must also be ready for tough challenges, namely limits in technology, capital, human resource, and corporate governance. The EuroCham Vice-Chairman emphasised that Vietnamese enterprises need to be more active and speed up the enhancing of their capacity and competiveness. Also, with a high potential but at the same time very strict market like the EU, Vietnamese enterprises need to ensure their compliance with the rules of origin requirements, to set a long-term vision instead of only focusing on immediate benefits of tariffs cutting.
In the parallel panel discussion, Mr. Vincent Gothknecht, representative of EuroCham member I. Schroeder KG Vietnam, participated in the discussion themed “Opportunities for Agro Products” moderated by Mr. Ta Hoang Linh, Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Department of European–American Markets. Mr. Gothknecht discussed European requirements for agro products exported by Vietnam and the challenges when the free trade deal takes effect. Joining a global market place with various global competitors, Vietnam needs to adjust to meet the EU’s specific requirements in specification and social compliance. The EuroCham speaker affirmed that EU partners are willing to support Vietnam to step up and reap the benefits of the trade deal.