The free trade agreement establishes a framework for resolving future disputes between the EU and Vietnam over the interpretation and implementation of the agreement. It applies to most areas of the agreement and is faster and more effective in many respects than the dispute settlement mechanism in the WTO. Such agreements illustrate the strength of EU-Vietnam relations and the opportunities Europe sees in the Southeast Asian country. The EU is achieving a long-term goal of increasing its influence and expansion in ASEAN markets by targeting Vietnam, and European entrepreneurs will have better access to one of the fastest growing Asian economies when the agreements come into force. Despite the interruption of the coronavirus pandemic and the slowdown in the global economy, Vietnam is expected to continue to record economic growth of 4.8% this year, returning to 6.8% in 2021. 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 TFUE calls on Vietnam and the EU (which have not yet done so) to ratify the eight core conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO); (ii) respect, promotion and effective implementation of the ILO`s fundamental principles on fundamental rights in the workplace; and (iii) the implementation of the Paris Agreement and other international environmental agreements, including actions to promote the conservation and sustainable management of animals, wildlife, biodiversity, forestry and fisheries. To this end, independent civil society will be involved in monitoring the implementation of these commitments by both parties.
Vietnam has already taken several steps to meet its obligations, including the ratification in June 2019 of ILO Convention 98 on collective bargaining, the adoption of a revised labour code in November 2019 and the adoption of a resolution allowing Vietnam to accede to ILO Convention 105 on the abolition of forced labour in June 2020. Vietnam has free trade agreements with many countries in the region, such as Japan, South Korea, etc. Another important free trade agreement in which Vietnam participates is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It covers countries bordering the Pacific Ocean, such as Japan, Chile, Canada and Australia. With the United States withdrawing from the negotiations, the remaining 11 countries continued negotiations and agreed on the new comprehensive and progressive agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (PPAC). The importance of the CPTPP for Vietnam is much less important than the TPP would have been, given that Vietnam had already concluded free trade agreements with the remaining 11 countries, either bilaterally or through the ASEAN Pact. Vietnam has made visible efforts and made progress in meeting the high standards of NAFTA. From 1 August 2020, the agreement will create sustainable growth, mutual benefits in different sectors and provide an effective instrument for a balance between the EU and Vietnam. The free trade agreement will consist of two parts, one for trade and one for investment, covering 95% and 5% respectively.