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The two countries’ ambassadors were authorized to sign the deal as leading officials of the Vietnamese Government and Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh were unable to travel to the UK to sign directly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Vietnam News Agency.
Earlier on December 11, Minister Anh and UK Secretary of State for International Trade Elizabeth Truss signed the minutes on the conclusion of negotiations over the UKVFTA to create a foundation for the two nations to conduct necessary legal documents for the official signing.
|Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh and UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss sign the minutes on the conclusion of negotiations of the FTA between Vietnam and the UK in Hanoi on Dec. 11. Photo: VOV|
The UKVFTA inherits commitments made in the free trade agreement between the European Union and Vietnam (EVFTA), with necessary amendments to ensure its compliance with the bilateral trade framework between Vietnam and the UK, VOV reported.
Similar to the EVFTA, the UKVFTA covers trade in goods, rules of origin, customs and trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS), technical barriers to trade (TBT), trade in services, investment, trade remedies, competition, state enterprises, government procurement, intellectual property, trade and sustainable development, cooperation and capacity building, legal and institutional framework.
Currently, both sides are completing procedures to ensure that the agreement will take effect from 11 pm on December 31, 2020.
|UK-Vietnam FTA to become effective from 23:00 on December 31. Photo: Laodong|
In the context that the UK official left the EU and the Brexit transition period is about to end on December 31, the signing of the free trade agreement will ensure the bilateral trade cannot be disrupted.
As it inherits the EVFTA, the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement will create a comprehensive, long-term, and stable economic-trade cooperation framework between the two countries, thus contributing to deepening their multifaceted cooperation, especially when the two sides just extended the maintenance of bilateral relations at the strategic partnership level.
Vietnam and the UKset up diplomatic relations in 1973. Over the past 47 years, bilateral ties have unceasingly developed. According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, two-way trade reached 6.6 billion USD in 2019.
The UK has been the third-largest trade partner of Vietnam in Europe after Germany and the Netherlands in recent years.
|The UK has been the third-largest trade partner of Vietnam in Europe after Germany and the Netherlands in recent years. Photo: VNA|
Vietnam mainly exports garments and textiles, footwear, wood, and wooden furniture, and seafood to the UK, while importing pharmaceuticals, machinery, and equipment from the UK.
Due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as of the end of October, two-way trade reached only 4.7 billion USD, down about 15 percent, with Vietnam’s exports to the UK hitting 4.1 billion USD, a decline of 14.19 percent year on year.
In the first eight months of 2020, the UK run 400 valid projects in Vietnam with total registered capital of 3.6 billion USD, ranking 16th among countries and territories investing in Vietnam.
However, the investment scale has yet to match the potential of the UK – one of the largest countries in terms of investing abroad with about 300 billion USD each year. The UKVFTA is expected to bring about more investment and cooperation opportunities for the two sides, supporting them in post-pandemic recovery.
Areas which the UK is strong in and Vietnam needs include renewable energy, consumer goods production, and greenhouse gas emission mitigation.
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