The European Council has approved a decision to conclude the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), the final procedure from the E.U. side needed for the deal to become effective.
Following this move from E.U., Vietnamese lawmakers are expected to ratify the agreement in early summer, after which it will come into force, the council said in a statement on 30 March.
The European Parliament endorsed the deal with Vietnam on 12 February.
The agreement, the “most modern, comprehensive and ambitious agreement ever concluded between the E.U. and a developing country,” will abolish 99 percent of customs duties between the two sides over the next 10 years.
Once the deal comes into force, seafood exporters from the Southeast Asian nation will have “huge opportunities” to speed up exports to the E.U., the Directorate of Fisheries of Vietnam has said. About half of the import taxes on seafood products from Vietnam to the E.U. will be removed immediately after the agreement becomes effective, with the remainder eliminated within seven years from the effective date of the pact. The E.U., however, will give Vietnam annual quotas for duty-free imports of 11,500 metric tons (MT) of canned tuna and 500 MT of canned fish balls. Additional volumes beyond the quotas will be taxed, according to reports from the directorate and the Vietnamese Finance Ministry’s National Institute for Finance.
Shrimp and pangasius are the top two seafood products Vietnam exports to the E.U. According to Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), the EVFTA is expected to help significantly boost the competitiveness of Vietnam’s seafood sector in E.U. markets.
Vietnam exported seafood products worth USD 143.7 million (EUR 133 million) to the E.U. in the first two months of this year, down 10.9 percent from January-February last year. The drop was largely due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The export value of shrimp fell 15 percent, while that of pangasius declined 40 percent year-on-year.