Dear President Tusk,

First and foremost, we would like to thank you for your support for free and fair trade in the EU and beyond. Now, more than ever, it is critical that the EU continues to deliver on its agenda to advance an ambitious and sustainable trade policy that offers benefits for society at large, especially when protectionism is on the rise in many parts of the world.

As leaders of European trade and business associations, we write to urge the Council to consider and approve the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), an agreement that will boost economic growth and promote job creation both in the EU and Vietnam. The EVFTA negotiations were concluded three years ago, and the agreement is now undergoing final legal review. We call on the Council and all member states to dedicate the resources necessary to complete this review expeditiously so that the agreement can be approved in early 2019.

Time is of the essence. As a fast-developing country of over 90 million people with a growing middle class, Vietnam will be an increasingly important consumer and sourcing market for EU companies. However, European companies are facing increased competition from countries with which Vietnam has free trade agreements, notably the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which recently entered into force. If the EVFTA is not approved by the current Council and Parliament, EU businesses risk losing market share in important sectors in Vietnam and harming their competitiveness in the region.

In addition to its commercial benefits, the EVFTA will deepen EU ties with a strategically important partner in Southeast Asia. The agreement will capture and lock in Vietnam’s economic reforms, expand bilateral trade and investment flows, and link Vietnam more closely to Europe. The EVFTA also will fill a void created by the U.S. withdrawal from TPP and enable Vietnam to further diversify its global trading links.

The EVFTA will also set the precedent for trade and sustainable development with ASEAN and developing countries around the world that seek closer trade relations with the EU. The ambitious Trade and Sustainable Development Chapter of the agreement creates opportunities for closer engagement with Vietnam on sustainability issues with the aim of positively supporting its development and providing for continuous cooperation with Vietnam. In particular, it provides for deeper and continuous cooperation with Vietnam that will encourage open dialogue on social and environmental issues in the country.

We ask the EU to avoid further delay by concluding the legal review so that the European Parliament can ratify the EVFTA before the European elections in May 2019. Failure to do so would create uncertainty, send the wrong message to our trading partners, and hurt the EU’s credibility in the global trading community. We therefore respectfully urge you to support the ratification and implementation of this important trade agreement.

List of signatories:

  • AmCham EU
  • amfori – Trade with Purpose
  • Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV)
  • European Liaison Committee for the Agricultural and Agri-food Trade (CELCAA)
  • European Services Forum (ESF)
  • European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham Vietnam)
  • EuroCommerce
  • Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI)
  • OAV – German Asia-Pacific Business Association
  • spiritsEUROPE