Today, the European Parliament in Strasbourg voted in favour of a free trade agreement with Vietnam. The S&Ds had led the drive in the European Parliament to obtain important labour and sustainable development guarantees from the Vietnamese government.
Bernd Lange, chair of the EP’s trade committee and S&D spokesperson on the Vietnam trade deal, said:
“We all have smart phones, clothes or sneakers made in Vietnam. It is our ambition to set rules to ensure that during the production of these goods, neither the environment nor workers’ rights are harmed and trade takes place under fair conditions. I am proud that the Socialists and Democrats group these past three years led the drive in the European Parliament to achieve concrete improvements for millions of workers in Vietnam.
“Due to our efforts, Vietnam has finally ratified the ILO convention on collective bargaining, passed a fundamental labour reform and committed to a concrete roadmap to ratify and implement two outstanding conventions on forced labour and freedom of association. The space for civil society has been widened and a permanent human rights dialogue with active involvement of the European Parliament has been put in place. Without the free trade agreement, none of these achievements would have been within reach. Willy Brandt’s strategy ‘change through rapprochement’ is again bearing fruits. For us, the work is now only starting. We will closely monitor the situation on the ground and work for positive change through dialogue, especially concerning human rights and the situation of political prisoners.”
Biljana Borzan, S&D vice-president on trade, added:
“For us Socialists and Democrats trade is a tool to make the lives of people better, both in Europe and the rest of the world. We want trade deals to contribute to sustainable growth and jobs, better protection of workers and human rights. Our aim is to build bridges, not walls, to stop dumping of standards and instead lift every one up. Since ACTA, step-by-step we have made the EU’s trade policy more progressive, more transparent and fair. The trade deal with Vietnam will improve the situation of millions of workers in Vietnam. We want to secure this progress and continue building on it."
Note to the editor:
Under the lead of S&D Shadow Rapporteur Jude Kirton-Darling and INTA Chair Bernd Lange, the European Parliament had requested further engagements from the Vietnamese government. Inter alia, they could secure advances in the following fields:
- The Vietnam labour code reform was ratified on 20 November 2019
- Detailed roadmap on both the implementation of the labour law as well as ratification of outstanding ILO conventions
- Ratification of ILO convention 98 (collective bargaining) in June 2019
- Ratification of ILO Convention 105 (forced labour) scheduled for June 2020
- Ratification of ILO Convention 87 (freedom of association) until 2023 latest
- Commitment by the EU Commission to closely monitor implementation of the agreements, in particular the commitments on trade and sustainable development, and promote continued reforms
- Strong Representation of Civil Society in the Domestic Advisory Group
- Close Involvement of the EU Delegation and Embassies in monitoring the human rights situation
The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and Investment Protection Agreement (IPA) were signed in Hanoi on 30 June 2019 and referred for Parliament’s consent on 1 July 2019. The European Parliament today voted in favour of both the FTA and IPA. The FTA will come into force one month after Vietnam and the EU have notified each other that legal procedures have been completed. The IPA will have still to be ratified by all member states.