EU accepts free trade agreement with Vietnam despite the country's poor human rights record
"EU puts riches over rights in Vietnam trade deal", 13 February 2020
The European Parliament voted...to accept a free trade agreement (FTA) with Vietnam, a monumental deal that will cut almost all tariffs on exports from one of Southeast Asia's fastest growing economies.
The trade deal...has simultaneously been criticized for rewarding a one-party state that is among Asia's serial human rights abusers while making virtually no demands on Hanoi to improve its record.
Dozens of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) signed a letter addressed to the European Parliament earlier this month urging it to "vote for postponing Parliament's consent to the deals until the Vietnamese government agrees to meet concrete and verifiable benchmarks to protect labor rights and human rights."
The European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs noted in December that the EC, the body in charge of negotiating the EVFTA, "did not carry out a human rights impact assessment on the [trade deal], though requested to do so by Parliament."
It also chafed at the deal for focusing "on only a certain range of rights," and called for "human rights to be included in a more comprehensive way, accompanied by a mechanism to ensure their effective enforcement."
Geert Bourgeois, the EU's rapporteur for the EVFTA, said that when it comes to democracy and human rights "the glass is not full" but that the trade pact will serve as a "lever to improve the situation."
Yet there is no guarantee that the EVFTA will give the EU much leverage to push for reform in Vietnam....