HO CHI MINH CITY — Vietnam and Europe could be swapping more pomelo fruit and Portuguese cheese soon if a new trade deal comes into effect, linking two regions that have been looking for an alternative to the trade tensions brought on by the United States.
The European Parliament is scheduled to discuss the trade deal on May 28, after years of negotiations between Vietnam and the European Union. The deal is significant not only because it facilitates exports, like tropical fruit, but also as it lays out commitments on human rights, labor unions, and protection of the environment. Critics, though, say the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement would not really enforce human rights standards and would continue the offshoring of jobs that has left workers vulnerable.
For the EU, the deal is one more way to access Asia’s fast-growing economies, set a model for trading with developing countries, and hold Vietnam’s one-party state accountable on its promise to level the business playing field.
For Vietnam, it is a chance to call itself a country open for business, with many trade deals, as well as raise quality standards to those expected by European customers.
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