No other nation with such credible commitment to commercial success remains outside the WTO. Now that the EU has reached bilateral agreement with Vietnam on the terms of its membership of WTO, the biggest hurdle is bilateral agreement with the United States. bq. Intense talks on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe meeting ran from Tuesday to Saturday before the two sides reached a compromise on Vietnam opening up telecommunications, tourism and financial services to EU companies …
[Vietnam] agreed to a 15 percent tariff on imports of EU goods, Lamy said. (“Forbes”:http://www.forbes.com/home_asia/feeds/ap/2004/10/09/ap1584196.html) The urgency of the deal from Vietnam’s point of view is that it needs to have Most Favoured Nation (MFN) guarantees when the WTO textile regime enforces a ‘tariffs only’ rule from 1 January 2005. Without such guarantees in the protected markets of North America and Europe, Vietnam’s garment industry could conceivably face continuing quotas on its exports after they are dropped on exports by its competitors. The US, which reached an agreement to extend Most Favoured Nation treatment to Vietnam in 2001 as part of a ‘Bilateral Trade Agreement’ between the two countries, has yet to reach agreement with Vietnam on the detailed terms of WTO accession. The Bush administration has made “promising noises”:http://english.people.com.cn/200407/25/eng20040725_150728.html for some time, but on its past record, is likely to squeeze Vietnam harder on issues such as IP and agricultural market access.
Peter Gallagher is a leading Australian consultant on trade and public policy.[bio].
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