The European Parliament and the European Council should postpone the ratification of the proposed EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement until the Vietnamese government takes concrete steps to improve its increasingly abusive human rights record, Human Rights Watch said today. In Vietnam’s latest move to restrict rights, a new draconian cybersecurity law went into effect on January 1, 2019.
The European Commission, mandated to negotiate an economic agreement with Vietnam, presented a final version of the deal in October 2018, planning for the European Council and Parliament to give their final approval – necessary for the agreement to enter into force – before European Parliament elections in May.
Because of pressure from Europe’s business community, some parties in the European Parliament are now trying to rush forward with the trade agreement, known by its initials, EVFTA, even as Vietnam has ignored repeated calls to address its human rights record. Key procedural votes on the agreement are scheduled for next week.
“Rushing through approval of the free trade agreement with Vietnam would be a grave mistake,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director. “It would reward Vietnam for doing nothing, and send a terrible message that past European Union pledges to use trade as a tool to promote human rights around the globe have no credibility.”