The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is likely to take effect in 2018 or 2019

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is likely to take effect in 2018 or 2019

To tie in with the launch of re:source, the new online strategic planning tool from the team behind just-style, this is the first in a monthly round-up of updates to key free trade agreements and trade preference programmes involving the US, EU and Japan.

UNITED STATES

African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)
The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) is conducting its annual review of the eligibility of sub-Saharan African countries to receive benefits under AGOA. Public comments, which are due no later than 23 August 2018, and information presented at an 16 August 2018 public hearing, will be considered in developing recommendations on AGOA country eligibility for 2019.

For 2018 the following have been designated as beneficiary SSA countries: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland (now referred to as Eswatini), Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.

The following have not been designated as beneficiary SSA countries in 2018 and are up for review: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (graduated from GSP), Eritrea, Seychelles (graduated from GSP), Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

EUROPEAN UNION

EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA)
On 26 June 2018, the EU and Vietnam agreed on a final text of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement. The EU Commission is now translating the agreement text into the other 22 EU official languages. Once translated, the Commission will make a proposal to the European Council for signature and conclusion of the agreements. After signature, the European Council will send the agreements to the European Parliament for final approval. It is expected that the agreement will take effect either in 2018 or 2019.

EU-Chile Association Agreement
The third round of negotiations on the modernisation of the trade part of the EU-Chile Association Agreement took place in Brussels from 28 May to 1 June 2018. Started in 2017, the talks intend to update the agreement and include new provisions that address issues ranging from facilitation of customs procedures, trade in services, investment, competition, rules of origin, and intellectual property.

EU-Mercosur Association Agreement
The latest round took place from 4-8 June 2018. Progress was made in the areas of (1) Trade in goods; (2) Wines and spirits; (3) Rules of origin; (4) Technical barriers to trade; (5) Sanitary and phytosanitary measures; (6) Services and establishment; (7) Government procurement; (8) Intellectual property (including geographical indications); (9) Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). 

EU-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement
The EU and New Zealand on 21 June 2018 announced the launch of negotiations on a comprehensive free trade agreement. The negotiations will aim to remove barriers to trade in goods and services, as well as develop trade rules to make trade easier and more sustainable. The first formal round of negotiation took place in Brussels from 16-20 July 2018.

EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement
The EU and Australia on 18 June 2018 launched negotiations on a comprehensive free trade agreement. Talks will cover topics ranging from trade in goods and services, government procurement, trade facilitation and customs, technical barriers to trade, intellectual property rights protection to small and medium sized enterprises. 

JAPAN

Japan-Turkey Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)
The tenth round of negotiations for the Japan-Turkey Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) was held in Tokyo from 11-13 June 2018 in Ankara, Turkey. Discussions covered trade in goods, trade in services, investment, sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS), rules of origin, technical barriers to trade (TBT), intellectual property, e-commerce, government procurement, customs procedures and trade facilitation, among others. The EPA negotiation was launched in 2014 as an outcome of the Japan-Turkey summit. Japan is Turkey's most important partner in the Asia-Pacific region.

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)
News sources said Japan notified New Zealand, as depositary for the CPTPP, that it had completed its domestic procedures to ratify the Agreement. On 25 April 2018, Mexico became the first nation to ratify the CPTPP. Sources also said Canada was close to ratifying the agreement and that New Zealand will try to do so at the end of 2018. The CPTPP will enter into force 60 days after at least half of its 11 signatories have ratified the pact. It will only become legally binding on the remaining signatories 60 days after they ratify. This will prevent any one party from being able to veto the entry into force of the agreement.

This article has been compiled by Dr Sheng Lu, associate professor in the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware.