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Investment agreement between EU & Vietnam undermines labour rights, threatens social & environment protection, says expert
Author: Lora Verheecke, EU Observer, Published on: 28 June 2019
"EU-Vietnam trade deal a bad day for workers' rights", 25 Jun 2019
Behind the smiles and handshakes, the signature of the EU-Vietnam trade and investment deals - being agreed on Tuesday (25 June) and to be signed at the end of this week - have dire consequences for human well-being and our ability to prevent climate and ecological breakdown.
The deals bear all the hallmarks of the ones with the USA and Canada that caused so much public outcry a few short years ago, but with a twist.
Once again, the inclusion of an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system threatens public budgets and put social and environmental protections are under threat...
But this time, the EU is salting the wound by pushing these corporate courts on a country where citizens have precious few rights in the first place – there is not a single independent trade union in Vietnam.
Meanwhile, freedom of speech could barely be more curtailed – it ranks fifth-last on the World Press Freedom Index, ahead of only China, North Korea, Turkmenistan and Eritrea.
The Vietnamese experience with investment deals and the ISDS system shows that this deal can be used by foreign investors to sue the country's government and empty its public coffers.
ISDS has already been used by two oil firms to avoid paying taxes in the country.
In this lawsuit, one of the eight current ISDS cases against Vietnam, two companies are suing the Vietnamese government for receiving a tax bill after the takeover of one company (ConocoPhillips Vietnam) by another (Perenco).
ConocoPhillips made a profit of $896m [€787m] on this sale, and refuses to pay taxes on this gain...