Before the votes in Parliament in February, we discussed with The Belgian Conservative MP Geert Bourgeois, a Member of Parliament responsible for the management of the agreements, the economic, social and environmental benefits. In 2018, the country exported some 42.5 billion euros worth of goods to the EU. In the other direction, we exported about 13.8 billion euros worth of goods. This rules-based free trade agreement will lead to an increase in exports in both directions. Overall, ASEAN is the EU`s third largest trading partner outside Europe, after the United States and China. Ensuring better access for EU exporters to the dynamic ASEAN market is an EU priority. Negotiations for a trade and investment agreement between the region and ASEAN began in 2007 and were interrupted by mutual agreement in 2009 to relax a bilateral negotiating format. These bilateral trade and investment agreements were designed as building blocks for a future agreement between the regions. What are the environmental and labour standards provisions of the trade agreement? Once the Council has formally concluded the trade agreement and the parties inform each other of the completion of their procedures, it may enter into force. For the investment protection agreement to enter into force, the parliaments of EU member states must first ratify it.
On Tuesday, the Committee on International Trade backed the free trade and investment agreements between the EU and Vietnam. Moreover, as the first trade agreement of the new European Parliament, we must show that we want to set global standards while creating wealth and new jobs. I am well aware of these concerns, but trade agreements like this are a lever to improve standards outside the EU. As far as working conditions are concerned, Vietnam is obliged to transpose all ILO conventions and incorporate them into its labour code. In addition, so far there has been no freedom of association for trade unions, but Vietnam has adapted its penal code. The EU`s bilateral trade and investment agreements with Vietnam in March 2020 and the trade agreement are expected to enter into force this summer, following Vietnam`s final ratification. The agreements with Vietnam are the second (after those with Singapore) between the EU and a South-East Asian country and are springboards for stronger engagement between the EU and the region. If Parliament were to approve the agreements on February 12, what are the next steps? The free trade agreement does not require the approval of EU national PARLAMENTe. The Commission will have a mandate to implement it immediately.