October 22, 2020

EuroCham and VCCI jointly launched the European Union – Vietnam Business Council (EVBC)

In light of the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) which took effect from 1st August 2020, the Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) agreed to jointly launch an initiative to establish the European Union – Vietnam Business Council (EVBC), a cooperation mechanism between the two organizations to effectively implement the EVFTA, support enterprises of the two sides to make the most of the opportunities brought by the Agreement, and at the same time further strengthen the trade and investment cooperation between Vietnam and the European Union (EU). This initiative has been reported to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and highly welcomed by EU Trade Commissioners Cecilia Malmstrom and Phil Hogan.
 
The EU-Vietnam Business Council (EUVBC), will bring together representatives of the European and Vietnamese business communities to share insights and discuss common challenges in the implementation of this historic free trade agreement.
 
The aim of the EVBC is to provide a bilateral consultation mechanism platform for European and Vietnamese enterprises to report to government officials of Vietnam, its ministries and other relevant Vietnamese authorities and also members of the EU Commission, EU Parliament, or other institutions of EU Member States with regard to the implementation and application of the EVFTA.
Besides, the EVBC will support business communities of both sides to develop their potentials, and increase the efficiency of their business and investment activities now that the EVFTA has been ratified.
 
In addition, EVBC also serves as a support mechanism for the business community of both sides to take advantage of the EVFTA to promote internal strength and enhance effective investment & business.
 
Objectives of the EVBC:

To facilitate advocacy, dialogue, and the coordination and exchange of information between the related Parties’ (including engaging EU Institutions and Vietnamese Authorities, business groups and related parties) in the process of preparations and implementation of EVFTA by promoting, supporting, anticipating or addressing key policies, laws, regulations or developments which have the potential to affect the implementation of The Agreements.

To examine and monitor any issues related to the implementation of The Agreements that may be presented by the Parties’ respective members and serve as a channel for exchange of such issues to the competent authorities of the EU and Vietnam;

To build up and align on key appropriate strategies and activities and relevant information through Working Groups to reduce barriers that may affect the Parties’ respective members regarding the implementation and application of The Agreements, potential enhancements in the regulatory framework of Vietnam and EU Member States as well as for the application and implementation by the both sides

To encourage and analyze initiatives which aim to facilitate the implementation and application of The Agreements;

To consider abilities for joint actions or of bilateral cooperation in projects which are of interest to the Parties’ respective members with regard to The Agreements;

To report on joint recommendations to both the EU and Vietnamese government agencies to the implementation and application of The Agreements;

To build a specific and measurable action program with the aim of promoting the implementation of The Agreements. The EUVBC will hold an annual Vietnam-EU Economic Summit to promote economic, trade and investment cooperation between Vietnam and the EU.

 
Organizational Structure of the EVBC:

Executive Board: 10 members (EuroCham and VCCI shall each appoint five members at their convenience including 2 Co-Chairs: VCCI Chairman Vu Tien Loc and EuroCham Chairman Nicolas Audier), who are experts, enterprises’ leaders and Business Associations of Vietnam and EU.

Working Groups: 15 of industries and sectors of key importance in the trade relations between Vietnam and EU and will be significantly impacted by EVFTA. It is expected that phase 1 will focus on these sectors: textile, garment, seafood, footwear, e-commerce, agriculture, pharmaceutical and medical devices, tourism, intellectual property, legal affais, green growth and sustainable development, supporting industries and logistics, woods products and furniture, tax and transfer pricing, legal and policy advice, alcohol and beverages. The leader of each working group is 2 Co-Chairs (1 Vietnamese member and 1 EU member). The Chair of the Working Group is responsible for reviewing and considering / deciding to submit the proposals / recommendations of the members of the Working Group to the Executive Board for approval.

Secretariat: are staff of the International Relations Department – VCCI and EuroCham. The Secretariat is responsible for performing tasks directed by two Co-Chairmen, the Executive Board and Chairmen of the Working Groups.

Members: all Vietnamese and EU businesses; business associations in various sectors of both sides wishing to promote cooperation with the EU market can register to participate as members of EVBC. EVBC Membership registration is completely voluntary and free.

Priority activities:
The Free Trade Agreement between Vietnam and the EU (EVFTA) is considered a bright spot and a new advantage that Vietnam can use to assert its position and quickly restore economic development after the Covid-19 pandemic. The foundation of EVBC will be an effective arm of the Government, supporting the business community of the two sides to successfully implement this Agreement, making a positive contribution to trade cooperation between Vietnam and the EU.
 
In the short term, besides focusing on providing information about EVFTA, and the advantages and barriers businesses are facing; EVBC will develop a plan to implement activities to promote cooperation between the two sides, especially in the context that COVID 19 is having a strong impact on business activities.
 
Some tentative activities in particular:

The working groups will collect opinions of businesses in relevant industries about difficulties and problems in the implementation process in terms of procedures and policies, from which they will coordinate with ministries and related agencies to get support and answer for businesses.

Implement promotional activities, provide information, in-depth training on the market, EVFTA with the participation of leading experts, Vietnamese and EU business leaders will be organized to support businesses to exploit the market and the Agreement effectively.

Sectoral policy reports and recommendations will be collected by the Working Groups and submitted to the Government and relevant ministries.

 
In force since 1 August, the EVFTA is the most comprehensive and ambitious free trade agreement ever signed between the EU and a developing nation, and just the second FTA signed with an ASEAN member state. Now it has entered into force, 65 per cent of EU exports to Vietnam are tariff-free, along with 71 per cent of Vietnam’s exports to the European Union. This will rise to almost 99 per cent over the next decade, giving Vietnamese enterprises privileged access to Europe’s large consumer market and EU business better access to Vietnam’s fast-growing sectors and industries.
   
    
Dr. Vu Tien Loc, Chairman of VCCI, said:
 “Throughout the past years, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) have been side by side, effortlessly promoted the process of negotiation, review, exchange information on the signing of the EU – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). We are delighted and grateful for the determination made by the Government of Vietnam and the EU authorities over the past years for the signing of the two Agreements.
 
The EU – Vietnam Business Council was established from the desire to support the Vietnamese business community to "enter the EVFTA highway". On that highway, Vietnamese businesses are sure to face many difficulties. It is inevitable to feel nervous, but that will not be the reason for them to not “going to the highway”. The Council will represent the voices of Vietnamese and EU businesses in the EVFTA implementation, and acts as a bridge to bring opinions of businesses to the Government and relevant agencies of both Vietnam and the EU.
 
Thank Eurocham for your joint efforts with us. Thank you for the trust and support of the business community. I believe you make good use of this Agreement.”
 
Mr. Nicolas Audier, Chairman of EuroCham, added:
 
 “The EVFTA is a once-in-a-generation free trade agreement. Over the next decade, it will help to boost trade and investment between Vietnam – one of the world’s fastest-growing and most attractive markets – and the European Union, the world’s largest trading bloc. It is a true ‘win-win’ for companies and consumers on both sides.
 
“Now the EVFTA has entered into force, it is up to business communities on both sides to make it a success and to ensure that our enterprises and societies can both unlock its full potential. EuroCham is proud to establish this new forum with VCCI, and to reaffirm the strong and effective relationship between our two chambers at the beginning of this new chapter of EU-Vietnam trade and investment relations.”

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