October 17, 2018

On 14th of March 2013 the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in cooperation with the RLS Vietnam organized an International Workshop on the Development of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) under the Impact of Economic Crisis, including perspectives from the EU and ASEAN.

Since Vietnam started the open door and international integration policy, participation in Free Trade Agreements has become a so called need for the promotion of international trade. Vietnam joint the ASEAN Free Trade area (AFTA) in 1996 and ever since, has negotiated various regional and bilateral FTAs with different forms and contents. In the time to come, Vietnam seems to possess opportunities to be more deeply integrating into the world economy via a more complex playing field, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic community, to be formalized in 2015, and by negotiating various other agreements. In this context, realizing trends and characteristics of FTAs around the world plays a key role for Vietnam too. The political discourse in this regard is promoting FTAs as a necessary tool for Vietnam to participate more effectively and to make a better contribution to its social-economic development process.

But, there are also negative consequences as a result of FTAs, especially for vulnerable groups such as small farmers, traders and craftsmen, which need to be seen and discussed.

To do so, the conference contributed:

1) To facilitate a network and information exchange amongst researchers, political-decision makers and non-governmental organizations.

2) To create a platform for an international discourse on FTAs and their impact on the population with a comparative perspective with a focus on regional matters.

3) To raise awareness about the impact of FTAs on the local population and to kick off a critical approach, also including the impact of the economic crisis.

The conference was divided into two sessions, the first one chaired by Ms. Nadja Charaby (Country Representative of RLS Vietnam) and Dr. Bui Thanh Nam (Faculty of International Studies – USSH), the second one by Mr. Bernd Schneider (accredited parliamentary assistant to MEP Helmut Scholz) and Prof. Dr. Pham Quang Minh (Vice Rector of University of Social Sciences & Humanities, Hanoi VNU).

International and national speakers took the chance to widen each other’s horizons by exchanging their experiences with the FTAs:

The Philippine representative for the international NGO Focus on the Global South, Joseph Purugganan, focused on the impacts of FTAs on poverty, equality, natural resources and environment, as well as people’s rights.

Dr. Hien Do Benoit (Université de Perpignan Via Domitia, CELSA (Paris Sorbonne IV), INTEC (CNAM), INFRAMOND (Lyon 3) ), focused on the race towards FTAs nowadays by pointing out the main issues of the fragility of FTAs which she qualified as the development gap and the problem of heterogeneity of tax systems. She underlined the possibility of FTAs being accompanied by the development of other methods to provide the bases for a more equitable exchange as a condition of free trade’s effectiveness and sustainability.

In the second half of the first session Prof. Dr. Pham Thi Thanh Binh (Institute for World Economy and Politics) explained the concepts and policies of ASEAN’s FTA step by step, followed by PhD candidate Pham Van Min, who illustrated the energy security concerns from a comparative point of view.

Ending the first session, Prof. Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan (Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam) focused on FTAs in the context of economic crisis and then led over into a lively discussion with the participants.

After a refreshing lunch break the second session started with Kingkorn Narintarakul from FTA Watch Thailand, who gave a rather critical insight on the work of civil society on FTAs in Thailand and Southeast Asia, followed by Bend Schneider, accredited Parliamentary Assistant to MEP Scholz. Bernd Schneider continued Narintarakuls critical approach with his evaluation of the European Union’s external trade policy, initiating a multisided discussion and exchange of perspectives.

In the second half of the last session Dr. Vo Xuan Vinh followed by Dr. Bui Thanh Nam explained the formation, characteristics and trends of FTAs first, to spell out the reality and prospects then.

As a representative of Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam, Pham Khac Tuyen gave an example for FTA negotiations by focusing on the Vietnam-Korea Economic Relations and the FTA negotiation between them.

All in all, different perspectives on FTAs were presented, that initiated lively discussions on the impact of FTAs on the local population, rising critical matters like the questions of Free Trade Agreements as a re-invention of colonialism as well. Moreover, timing could not have been better, as the ASEAN-EU business summit just took place in Hanoi 8th and 9th of March, making the workshop even more up-to-date.

The presentations in the workshop were as follows:

 

Activity Speaker
 

 

Welcome remarks

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pham Quang Minh – Vice Rector of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, VNU Hanoi

 

Ms. Nadja Charaby, Country Representative of the RLS Vietnam

New Generation FTAs: Main Issues, Trends and Challenges Joseph Purugganan,
Focus on the Global South and the EU-ASEAN FTA Network
The Race Towards FTA: Reflection on Methods of Enabling Partnership for Development in Times of Crisis  Dr. Hien Do Benoit,
Université de Perpignan Via Domitia, CELSA (Paris Sorbonne IV),
INTEC (CNAM), INFRAMOND (Lyon 3)
ASEAN’s FTA: Perception and Policy    Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pham Thi Thanh Binh, Institute for World Economy and Politics
The Development of ASEAN’s FTA: A Comparative Research in the case of Thailand and Singapore Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hoang Thi Thanh Nhan, Institute for World Economy and Politics
The development of EU’s FTA – The Case of  EU – ASEAN FTA Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam
Insights on the work of civil society on FTAs in Thailand and Southeast Asia Kingkorn Narintarakul,
FTA Watch Thailand
A critical evaluation of the European Union’s external trade policy Bernd Schneider,
Accredited Parliamentary Assistant to MEP Helmut Scholz (DIE LINKE)
Energysecurity concerns–FTA motivation or impediment in the economic crisis context? PhD  candidate Pham Van Min University of Social Sciences and Humanities-VNU, Hanoi
The FTA of ASEAN countries: Reality and Prospects Dr. Bui Thanh Nam,
Faculty of International Studies – USSH
The Vietnam-Korea Economic Relations and the FTA Negotiation between Vietnam and Korea Pham Khac Tuyen,
Ministry of Industry and Trade
 

 

Closing remarks

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pham Quang Minh – Vice Rector of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, VNU Hanoi

 

Ms. Nadja Charaby, Country Representative of the RLS Vietnam

 

 

 

Comments are closed.