EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement – A study of EVFTA’s impact on authoritative control in Vietnam’s business environment

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Publication Date 2020
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Vietnam’s and the EU’s history of regulated trade relations emanates from 1996 when the first bilateral agreement covering trade entered into force between the parties. The bilateral trade relationship has developed ever since. Ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement is expected in mid-2020, a comprehensive free trade agreement between a developing country and an international organisation. Vietnam is a developing country in which the Communist Party controls the functioning of the state at all levels of society.

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement is referred to as the most ambitious free trade agreement that the EU has ever concluded with a developing country. National companies, as well as EU-companies in Vietnam, will be affected when the agreement enters into force. This leads to questions on how the agreement will impact Vietnamese authoritative state control of companies in Vietnam.

The European Commission has set out the elements of transparency, civil society engagement, open markets and improvement of legal frameworks as essential elements within trade in their policy from 2015. These elements are pervasive in the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and permeate many of the agreement’s conditions. In this thesis, the agreement’s conditions will be examined to determine what conditions and how the four elements can be used to influence state control of companies in Vietnam. Further, the conditions’ effect on EU- and national companies in Vietnam will be scrutinised. It will be argued that the four elements can be used to address structural problems in Vietnam as well as challenge the separated roles of the Vietnamese state and companies. Even though the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement can be perceived as too ambitious and unadjusted for companies in Vietnam, the conditions can foster development and be a driving force for positive changes in the long term.

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Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

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