“Is the European Union showing the same naivety with Vietnam as with China twenty years ago?” “

Chronic. “Trade policy can be a force for good. “ It is in these terms that Phil Hogan, then European Commissioner for Trade, welcomes with a touch of bombast, in July 2020, the entry into force of the free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and Vietnam. This so-called “new generation” agreement, the first concluded between a country in South-East Asia and the Old Continent, is the pride of Brussels for its clause devoted to sustainable development. The two parties in fact undertake to “Respect, promote and effectively implement the principles relating to fundamental labor rights”, which requires, among other things, the ratification of the main conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

European negotiators even succeeded in getting the Vietnamese communist dictatorship to sign a text that affirms its “Attachment to United Nations Charter signed in San Francisco on June 26, 1945 and taking into account the principles set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ”. “I am convinced that this agreement will accelerate the pace of reforms in Vietnam, Geert Bourgeois, Chairman of the Committee on International Trade at the European Parliament, already promised in January 2020. Ratification will further enhance progress on labor and environmental standards as well as human rights. “

Read also Trade: European Parliament green light for controversial EU-Vietnam deal

A few months later, the exact opposite happened. At the end of October, five Vietnamese citizen journalists were sent to prison for “Abuse of democratic rights”. They published investigations into corruption or forced land acquisitions. Mid-december, Famous Vietnamese Journalist and Blogger Pham Doan Trang Sentenced to Nine Years for Her Writings “Harmful” to social stability.

Economic cost

The rights of workers are not better respected. During the confinement, the workers had to stay day and night in their factories and their wages were cut from overtime, to the point that the migrant workers, traumatized by these working conditions, preferred to return to their native regions. As for the fight against climate change, so dear to Brussels, American scientists from the Climate Action Tracker network (CAT) ranked Vietnam among the worst countries for climate commitments.

Is the EU showing the same naivety with Vietnam as with China twenty years ago, when it believed that Beijing was going to convert to democracy and a market economy by joining the Organization? world trade? The two countries are communist dictatorships, which free trade and openness to the world economy do not seem to lead to the path of democracy.

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“Is the European Union showing the same naivety with Vietnam as with China twenty years ago?” ”

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