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Vietnam: NGOs call EU to postpone vote on free trade with Vietnam citing human rights concerns; EU says deal will address issues

Author: South China Morning Post, Published on: 12 February 2020

"Vietnam looks to burnish human rights image before EU trade vote", 11 February 2020

...[T]he European Union is on the cusp of finalising a far-reaching free trade agreement with Vietnam, in a move that would create the "most ambitious" deal it has ever struck with a developing country, according to the 27-country bloc.

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Twenty-eight NGOs, both within and outside Vietnam, have called on the EU parliament to postpone the vote, citing human rights concerns.

A statement by Human Rights Watch called for the vote to be delayed until the Vietnamese government "agrees to meet concrete and verifiable benchmarks to protect labour rights and human rights."

[...]

The European Commission...recognises Vietnam's human rights record as a cause for concern. It stresses, however, that the deal will provide a platform to address such issues.

The prospect of the trade deal has already led Hanoi to improve its labour standards, signing up to six of eight ILO conventions, with the final two to be completed by 2023, a Brussels official said on condition of anonymity.

Many human rights organisations in Vietnam welcome the deal, the commission official said, stressing that the EU will closely monitor its implementation. "In a way they feel better protected with than without these agreements," he noted.

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