Vietnam, Britain sign free trade deal, to take effect Dec 31

Britain's International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Vietnam's Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh at a Hanoi signing ceremony ahead of the deal on Dec11, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

HANOI (REUTERS) - Britain and Vietnam signed a free trade agreement on Tuesday (Dec 29), Vietnam's trade ministry said, days before Britain completes its transition out of the European Union.

The deal, which will for Britain replace the existing EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), will take effect on Dec 31, the ministry said in a statement.

Trade between Vietnam and Britain has risen by an average of 12 per cent a year over the past decade to reach US$6.6 billion (S$8.7 billion) last year, and the deal will help boost Vietnam's exports of garments, footwear products, rice, seafood and wooden furniture, it said.

Since leaving the EU in January, Britain has been striking out alone and negotiating new trade deals with countries to replace those the bloc had negotiated.

Tuesday's deal will ensure Britain does not lose access to preferential tariffs in one of the fastest growing and most open economies in Asia.

The free trade agreement with Britain has the same provisions as those of EVFTA, the ministry said.

EVFTA came into effect in August and was due to cut or eliminate 99 per cent of tariffs on goods traded between Vietnam and the EU.

"The agreement will create a framework for comprehensive, long-term and sustainable economic cooperation between the two countries," the ministry said.

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