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The EU Parliament approves the EU-Vietnam agreement

15/02/2020

On 13 February 2020, the European Parliament approved the EU-Vietnam Trade and Investment Agreement. MEPs gave their consent to the free trade agreement by 401 votes, 192 votes against and 40 abstentions. Separately, the Parliament agreed by 407 votes for, 188 against and 53 abstentions to an investment protection agreement providing an investment court system with independent judges to settle disputes between investors and state. The accompanying resolution passed by 406 votes for, 184 against and 58 abstentions. Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan commented: "The EU-Vietnam agreement has a huge economic potential. A win for consumers, workers, farmers and businesses. And it goes well beyond economic benefits. It proves that trade policy can be a force for good. Vietnam has already made great efforts to improve its labour rights record thanks to our trade talks. Once in force, these agreements will further enhance our potential to promote and monitor reforms in Vietnam.” With the Parliament's adoption, the Council can now conclude the trade agreement. Once the Vietnamese National Assembly also ratifies the trade agreement, it can enter into force, most likely in early summer 2020. The investment protection agreement with Vietnam will still need to be ratified by all Member States according to their respective internal procedures. Once ratified, it will replace the bilateral investment agreements that 21 EU Member States currently have in place with Vietnam.

Commission decides to partially withdraw Cambodia’s preferential access to the EU market

15/02/2020

The European Commission has decided to withdraw part of the tariff preferences granted to Cambodia under the European Union’s Everything But Arms’ (EBA) trade scheme due to the serious and systematic violations of the human rights principles enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The withdrawal of tariff preferences – and their replacement with the EU's standard tariffs (most favoured nation MFN) – will affect selected garment and footwear products, and all travel goods and sugar. The withdrawal amounts to around one-fifth or €1 billion of Cambodia's yearly exports to the EU. Unless the European Parliament and the Council object, this will take effect on 12 August 2020. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell said: “The duration, scale and impact of Cambodia's violations of the rights to political participation and to the freedoms of expression and association left the European Union with no other choice than to partially withdraw trade preferences. The European Union will not stand and watch as democracy is eroded, human rights curtailed, and free debate silenced. Today's decision reflects our strong commitment to the Cambodian people, their rights, and the country's sustainable development. For the trade preferences to be reinstated, the Cambodian authorities need to take the necessary measures.”