15 December 2004

Accession moves forward as members examine the terms

Viet Namís membership negotiations progressed further on 15 December 2004 as the working party examined the first draft of the report it will issue at the end of the negotiation.

Viet Nam announced it had completed six bilateral deals (with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, the EU and Singapore) and was close to concluding another seven. Members unanimously reaffirmed their support for Viet Nam to join the WTO as rapidly as possible.

Members also praised Viet Nam for its hard work and many of them mentioned the particularly productive bilateral market access negotiations they had held with Viet Nam since the Working Partyís last meeting in June 2004 (see news report of previous meeting).

The meeting examined in detail the first version of the draft report and the new documents submitted by Viet Nam. In addition, Viet Nam reported on recent developments in its legislation. Importantly, Viet Nam expected to speed up the passage of pending bills related to the WTO in 2005.

Viet Nam said that the process had found ďnew momentumĒ. Trade Vice Minister Luong Van Tu declared that he was ďvery encouraged by the strong engagement of the working party, which has helped to move Viet Namís accession speedily across-the-board.Ē

However, working party chairperson Seung Ho of Rep. of Korea commented that in spite of all the good work carried out since the last meeting in June, some important tasks remain to be done. Concluding, he referred to Viet Namís aim to wrap up its membership negotiations by the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference in December 2005.


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Some details 

Members were eager to get down to the discussion of specific points in the draft report.

Investment regime: Several members pointed out that Viet Nam discriminated between domestic and foreign investors and asked when the discrimination would be lifted. Some noted that certain sectors were prohibited for investment and asked for a specific list. Viet Nam said that new laws to abolish the discriminations would be presented to the National Assembly at the end of 2005. Viet Nam explained that the prohibited sectors were the same for domestic and foreign investors and included those related to national security, public order and protection of the environment. Viet Nam promised to circulate a list.

Subsidies: One member mentioned Viet Namís request to be granted a transition period in order to implement the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures Agreement. This member stated that Viet Nam would not automatically get a transition and encouraged Viet Nam to use subsidies not prohibited under the WTO agreements. Other members said that they also wanted Viet Nam to implement the Subsidies Agreement upon accession. One developing country member argued that Viet Nam should be entitled to special and differential treatment on subsidies.

Trading rights: A member noted that Viet Nam discriminated between domestic and foreign enterprises regarding trading rights. Several members said that the current legislation violated Articles 3 (National Treatment) and 11 (Quantitative Restrictions) of GATT. They expressed concern regarding the current situation and called on Viet Nam to be in full conformity upon accession.

State owned enterprises: Several members requested more information on Viet Namís state owned enterprises, including their products and activities and their role in international trade. Viet Nam said that it had remarkably narrowed its list of state owned enterprises since the last meeting and that their activities included national defence and security, and poverty elimination.

Quantitative restrictions: Several members referred to import restrictions applied to used goods (such as used engines or used tyres), spare parts and motorcycles (engine size exceeding 175cc). One member argued that while they understood that Viet Nam used these restrictions for health and safety reasons, the same objectives could be reached using measures that do not restrict trade so much. Viet Nam replied that due to its current level of development it was unable to put into place such standards.

Sanitary and phytosanitary measures: Viet Nam dropped an earlier request for limited transitions to implement the SPS Agreement. Viet Nam pledged to comply with the SPS Agreement from the date of accession.


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No date has been set yet for the next meeting which could be in the first half of 2005.


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Working party members: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, European Union and member states, Honduras, Hong Kong China, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyz Republic, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Romania, Singapore, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Turkey, United States, Uruguay.

Chairperson: Seung Ho (Rep of Korea)

Viet Namís Working Party was established on 31 January 1995. The previous meeting of the Working Party was held on 15 June 2004. Bilateral market access negotiations are well underway and will continue.