On December 2, 2015, the European Union and Vietnam signed a free trade agreement (FTA), closing three years of negotiations. The text, made public on February 1, 2016, includes the more traditional trade issues, including SPS and TBT, and trade facilitation, but also extends to other issues such as government procurement, competition policy, intellectual property, cooperation and capacity building, state-owned enterprises, and transparency. Like other recent EU treaties, it also contains a chapter on sustainable development covering both labour and environmental issues.
The investment chapter adopts the European Union’s emerging approach to investment protection. It also includes a new type of investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, consisting of a standing nine-member tribunal to hear cases at first instance and a permanent six-member appeal tribunal.