I am happy to announce the finalisation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and Vietnam. Today, President Juncker and I welcomed the Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng and Minister of Industry and Trade Vũ Huy Hoàng to Brussels to formally conclude our negotiations.
The deal is good news for both sides. Vietnam has a vibrant economy of more than 90 million consumers, with a growing middle class and a young and dynamic workforce. Its market has great potential and offers numerous opportunities for the EU's agricultural, industrial and services exports. This agreement is also significant because of its strong focus on sustainable development. It will support Vietnam's efforts to further enhance economic growth and development for its people in the years to come. This agreement provides a new model for EU trade policy towards developing countries.
The agreement includes a robust and comprehensive chapter on Trade and Sustainable Development, which covers both labour and environmental issues related to trade. This includes commitments to the core conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on issues such as the right to organise and the abolition of forced labour. Civil society will have an important role in monitoring these commitments.
After reaching a political agreement in principle back in August of this year, there were a limited number of points that needed to be ironed out during the past few months. Now, Vietnam has agreed to the EU's new approach to investment protection with a permanent tribunal rather than ad-hoc arbitration panels. Read more about the new Investment Court System here.
After the conclusion of our negotiations, in line with the transparency commitments in the EU's new trade strategy, the text of the entire agreement will be made public in just a few weeks' time. The legal review and translation of the agreement will follow. Then, it will be presented to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament for ratification.
After the conclusion of negotiations with Singapore in 2014, Vietnam is the second country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that the EU has concluded free trade negotiations with. These agreements are important building blocks in our ambition to conclude a region-to-region free trade agreement between the EU and ASEAN. Working towards that goal, we are also committed to resuming negotiations with Malaysia, as well as with Thailand once the conditions there are right. We are starting free trade negotiations with the Philippines in the beginning of next year, and are looking into the possibility to negotiate with Indonesia as well. The EU is committed to engage with Southeast Asia - a region of over 600 million citizens, and a driver of both current and future economic growth.