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ILO welcomes European Parliament’s approval for free trade deal with Vietnam
By Pham Nhat
Thursday,  Feb 13, 2020,15:55 (GMT+7)

ILO welcomes European Parliament’s approval for free trade deal with Vietnam

By Pham Nhat

Workers at Phuong Nam Garment Trading Import and Export JSC in Go Vap District, HCMC. EVFTA has strong labor and environment requirements for sustainable development – PHOTO: VNA

HCMC – The International Labor Organization (ILO) welcomed the European Parliament’s vote in favor of the free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union and Vietnam on February 12, as it is expected to bring many economic benefits to both parties.

The agreement, known as EVFTA, was signed by both parties in Hanoi on June 30, 2019.

The EVFTA is a new generation FTA with strong labor and environment requirements for sustainable development.

“There has been a growing and legitimate concern across the world that the free flow of trade could broaden inequality between and within nations and could damage the environment. The new generation of FTAs attempts to address the sustainability challenge of free trade by incorporating labor and environment requirements,” stated ILO Vietnam Director Chang-Hee Lee.

Chapter 13 on Trade and Sustainable Development requires that Vietnam and the European Union reaffirm their “commitments, in accordance with (their) obligations under the ILO and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work […] to respect, promote and effectively implement the principles concerning the fundamental rights at work.”

These rights include the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; the effective abolition of child labor; and the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupations.

This chapter specifically stipulates that each party will make continued and sustained efforts toward ratifying the fundamental ILO conventions. Vietnam has ratified six out of eight of these conventions already.

The country’s latest ratification is Convention 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining, which the legislative National Assembly approved in June 2019.

Vietnam plans to ratify the last two conventions as well: Convention 105 on the Abolition of Forced Labor Convention in 2020 and Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize in 2023.

“The labor and environment requirements of EVFTA will help facilitate a win-win situation and ensure sustainable achievements for Vietnam by avoiding the ‘race to the bottom’ and making sure that growth today does not come at the expense of future generation’s opportunities,” said the head of ILO Vietnam.

Vietnam’s National Assembly is expected to vote on EVFTA at the coming session in May. If it is given the green light, the agreement will come into force one month after Vietnam and the European Union have notified each other that legal procedures have been completed.

By joining EVFTA and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership,Vietnam is expected to modernize its labor laws and industrial relations system.

The adoption of the revised Labor Code in November 2019 brought its legal framework closer to ILO’s fundamental conventions and created the necessary legal environment for modern Vietnam’s employment and industrial relations.

“Modern industrial relations based on the recognition of freedom of association, together with a better skilled workforce and effective social protections, is a key social driver for Vietnam to move toward becoming an upper middle income country in a sustainable manner,” remarked the director of ILO Vietnam.

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