The European Union (EU) has finalised a free trade deal with Vietnam, one of the world’s few remaining communist states, after two and a half years of talks.
“Today’s signature is not the end of our relations but the beginning of far more ambitious ties,” said EU Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker after talks with Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung. “The EU and Vietnam can do great things together.”
The final deal, which follows a preliminary agreement reached in August, removes nearly all of the tariffs imposed to trade on goods traded between the two economies over a period of up to seven years and is similar to one agreed last year between the EU and Singapore.
It marks a milestone in the EU’s ties with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes Vietnam and Singapore, said EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem. The deal gave the EU access to a “vibrant economy of more than 90m consumers with a growing middle class and a young and dynamic workforce.”
Malmstroem called the deal “a new model for trade policy with developing countries”, adding that the EU’s ultimate goal was to establish a region-to-region agreement.
The EU is already in talks with two other ASEAN members, Malaysia and Thailand, to secure similar free trade agreements, while negotiations will also begin with the Philippines early in 2016. The commission is exploring the possibility of negotiating with Indonesia, said Malmstroem.
The European Central Bank will extend its quantitative easing programme for nine months beyond next March, but scale back the level of bond buying from €80bn to €60bn a month.
The agreement, after three years of debate, raise questions on future investment demand, but Fitch Ratings doesnʼt anticipate major market disruption.
The European Commission fined Credit Agricole, HSBC and JPMorgan Chase a total of €485m for manipulating the price of the financial benchmark.
Issuers should seek more engagement with investors, explain better how they generate value, and work with investors on a Swiss code of accountable governance, suggests a white paper.