Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said that international economic integration would be the focus of economic restructuring in 2018, requiring breakthroughs in negotiation, signing of free trade deals and improving the legal framework.
Hue was speaking at the 2018 first meeting of the Inter-sectoral Steering Committee for International Economic Integration on Thursday.
“It is necessary to enhance free trade agreements (FTAs) and national competitiveness as well as competitiveness of different industries,” Hue said. “Preparations must be taken to actively adapt to integration, especially in fields expected to be the most vulnerable, such as husbandry, cultivation and sugar industries.”
He said that integration would bring benefits from tariff cuts and/or removal, but this would also mean a drop in budget revenue. “The adjustments of domestic taxes are needed, but must be implemented with appropriate roadmaps.”
International integration would also require the flawless co-operation between member countries in implementing procedures and creating favourable conditions for businesses, he said.
As some major partners of Viet Nam are considering changes in their trade policies, Hue asked the steering committee to enhance the analysis of co-operation trends and forecasts about new-generation FTAs.
Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said that Viet Nam was also hastening integration in the domestic market through the implementation of international integration commitments, institutional reforms and growth model renovation.
FTAs positively contributed to boosting economic development, expanding export markets and helping Viet Nam engage more deeply into the global value chain.
“FTAs provide significant opportunities for Viet Nam if they are enforced effectively,” Tuan Anh said.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh told the meeting that EU-Viet Nam FTA (EVFTA) would be split into two separate deals – a free trade agreement and an investment-protection agreement.
The former would include all the contents of the current EVFTA, but investment would only include the liberalisation of foreign-direct investment. The agreement would be under the authority of the European Commision and the approval of the European Parliament.
The latter, consisting of contents about investment protection and investment-dispute resolution, would have to be approved by the European Parliament and the member countries.
The slicing of EVFTA into two agreements was planned to be completed this month to prepare for the official signing, Khanh said.
To date, Viet Nam has passed 10 bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, including ASEAN Free Trade Area, five ASEAN+1 FTAs, and FTAs with Japan, South Korea, Chile and the Eurasia Economic Union.
Viet Nam has also concluded FTA negotiations with the EU and was negotiating Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
About 60 countries had already negotiated or were negotiating FTAs with Viet Nam, which accounts for 90 per cent of Viet Nam’s trade.