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On 4 August 2015 the successful finalization of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations between the EU and Vietnam have been announced (as mentioned in the blog). The intention is that the FTA will be signed beginning of December 2015.
However, many things happened since August.
As announced too, the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have been successfully finalised. The future will show what impact the TPP will have on the negotiations between the EU and the U.S. on the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). It is obvious that the political landscape and the pressure has much increased for both parties, internally (will TPP standards find its ways into the TTIP?) as well as externally (protests in Berlin of over 150,000 citizens).
Nonetheless, the EU continued to be focused and active:
The European Commission announced on the 15 November 2015 that the relationship with Australia will be deepened and that it is planned to start FTA negotiations in a very near future.
On the 16 November 2015 the European Council announced its approval to start FTA negotiations with the Philippines. This will be the third ASEAN country with whom the EU will negotiate a FTA (still to be ratified: Singapore and Vietnam). Others will come, since the EU has started FTA negotiations with Malaysia in 2010 (seven rounds of negotiations have been held) and with Thailand in 2013.
The last one to be mentioned is the EU - Japan FTA. The negotiations started in 2013 and the EU has pushed Japan to finalize those negotiations towards the end of 2015. However, in the last months Japans trade negotiators were kept busy with the TPP negotiations. Returning to the EU negotiations with new confidence, Japan pushes now for similar standards such as the ones mentioned in the TPP and the TTIP, to which the EU may not easily agree with. To cut a long story short, it has just been announced that the negotiations will not be finalised in 2015.
It will be interesting to see the future developments. The EU keeps its trade agenda busy and continues its efforts to enhance trade for companies. Not only on the FTA side, but also with the upcoming Unions Customs Code, which will enter into force on 1 May 2016. We will keep you posted.
To the above mentioned topics: