The European Council on Thursday adopted a decision authorizing the European Commission to start negotiations with Vietnam on a free trade agreement.
Vietnam will be the third ASEAN country to negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU, after Singapore and Malaysia.
Talks are expected to start shortly, the Council said in a statement.
In 2007, the Council agreed to launch negotiations on a region-to-region free trade agreement with the ASEAN countries, but these were put on hold in 2009. In December 2009, the Council decided to pursue free trade negotiations with the ASEAN countries in a bilateral format, whilst preserving the strategic objective of a region-to-region free trade agreement.
Also on Thursday, the European Council adopted a decision approving the signing and provisional application of a multi-partite free trade agreement with Colombia and Peru.
The agreement, initialed in March 2011, sets out to eliminate high tariffs, tackle technical barriers to trade, liberalize services markets, protect EU geographical indications and open up public procurement markets.
It includes commitments on the enforcement of labor and environmental standards, as well as rapid and effective dispute settlement procedures. It will ensure a level playing field with competitors in the region such as the United States.
Political agreement on the signing and provisional application of the agreement was reached by the Council in March 2012. Based on the principle of regional integration, it remains open for signature by Bolivia and Ecuador, the other two members of the Andean Community.
Negotiations on a region-to-region association agreement with the Andean Community, including political dialogue, cooperation and trade, were suspended in 2008. In January 2009, the Council authorized the Commission to negotiate a multi-partite trade agreement with individual members of the Andean Community -- Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: email@example.com