Non-tariff barriers are also removed by the free trade agreement, making it easier for Vietnamese companies to access the highly regulated EU market and vice versa. The EU and Vietnam will strengthen customs cooperation to simplify, harmonize, standardise and modernise trade procedures to reduce transaction costs for businesses. These improvements will affect technical regulations, standards, compliance assessment, transparency and market oversight. 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 APC regulates the overall relationship between the EU and Vietnam. It is based on common interests and principles such as equality, mutual respect, the rule of law and human rights. It broadens the scope of cooperation in areas such as trade, the environment, energy, science and technology, good governance, tourism, culture, migration, the fight against terrorism and the fight against corruption and organised crime.
It also allows Vietnam and the EU to further strengthen cooperation on global and regional challenges, including climate change, terrorism and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. A new pioneering free trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Union came into force on 1 August 2020. 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. The EU and Vietnam have agreed to strengthen the disciplines of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (OTC). In particular, Vietnam is committed to strengthening the enforcement of international standards in the development of its regulations.