Congratulations for the deals with Japan & Singapore but let’s not forget Vietnam

We are very satisfied with the conclusion of the FTA deals with Japan and Singapore last week. Both countries are in the top ten of our export markets and we hope the new rules will help expanding further. The FTAs are essential to address tariffs and non-tariffs barriers but also to offer protection to our spirits covered by geographical indications such as Scotch Whisky, Cognac, Polish Vodka. It is important to remember that geographical indications (+240) account for 2/3 of our exports. Another important benefit of FTAs is the inclusion of dispute settlement mechanism based on the WTO which should ensure that agreements are enforced and disputes are settled. Having said that, we cannot ignore that the EU-Vietnam FTA (EVFTA) signed by the Commission more than two-year ago is still pending “legal scrubbing”… Last week, together with nine associations representing businesses in Europe and Vietnam, we called on the EU to proceed quickly with the ratification and implementation of the EVFTA. In the case of spirits, we have been granted a full elimination of 45% import tariff over a 7-year period and we are eager to give the starter very soon now! Indeed, we are facing tough competition (and tax discrimination) in Vietnam and the EVFTA can go a long way in mitigating these concerns.

We ask the European Commission to submit now the trade parts of the agreement to the Council. We ask the Council to put Vietnam on its agenda for the meeting in May 2018 and initiate discussions immediately thereafter with the European Parliament. Overall, the EU should aim for the agreement’s ratification and entry into force by the end of 2018 and before the European Parliament elections in spring 2019. This is the only way to ensure that EU Trade Policy continues to deliver on its promise of economic growth, job creation and engagement on issues of sustainable development.