We welcome the conclusion of the negotiations of a European Union (EU)-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The path is now clear to complete internal procedures leading to the signature, ratification and full implementation of the Agreement. With this in mind, we have instructed our senior officials to develop a joint indicative roadmap and a technical assistance package. It will help Viet Nam integrate successfully as a market economy into the global economy.
The EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement will contribute to strengthening our economies and societies through improved access to each other's markets. It will also help trigger a new wave of high quality investment in both directions, and support Viet Nam’s transition towards a more competitive, smart and green economy. Viet Nam is a market with significant potential. With its 93 million people, a growing purchasing power and a young and dynamic work force, it offers increasing opportunities for the EU's agricultural, industrial and services exports. Furthermore, the agreement is also a significant milestone for ASEAN-EU trade relations overall, and builds towards the ultimate goal of an ASEAN-EU region-to-region free trade agreement. The FTA, together with the EU-Viet Nam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), will help build a stronger partnership. We look forward to the conclusion of the ratification process of the PCA by the EU and the start of its full implementation.
We believe that our strengthened partnership will allow us to better address future challenges on the road towards prosperous, democratic and just societies. We share the conviction that good governance, respect for human rights, the rule of law and adherence to the international rules-based system are determining factors for development. In this context, both sides committed to a swift and smooth implementation of the EU Justice and Legal Empowerment Programme in Viet Nam (EUJULE), aiming to start by the second semester of 2016. The European Union welcomes Viet Nam's ongoing legal institution reforms, stemming from the 2013 Constitution and, in this context, offers its support in implementing those, bringing them in line with the recommendations accepted by Viet Nam in the United Nation's Universal Periodic Review. The European Union will continue to contribute to Viet Nam’s efforts to implement the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, in particular in poverty reduction, health care, justice and the rule of law, quality education, public finance management, sustainable energy, environment and infrastructure.
We reaffirmed our commitment to secure a legally binding climate change agreement applicable to all parties at COP21 in Paris. It must establish a durable platform for limiting global temperature rise to below 2°C, including through a long-term goal, accountability and transparency of contributions, and allowing for strengthening of ambition over time. We are determined to strengthen our cooperation to promote "sustainable energy for all"; and to conclude negotiations for a EU-Viet Nam Voluntary Partnership Agreement promoting sustainable and legal timber trading (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade - FLEGT) by the end of 2016.
We discussed regional and global challenges, including migration and refugee crisis, and agreed to work together to tackle them. We agreed that our strengthened partnership will contribute to ensuring regional peace and stability. We are committed to maintaining peace, promoting maritime security, freedom of navigation and overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea. We share serious concerns over developments, including the large scale land reclamation and agree on the critical importance of refraining from the use or threat of force, of abstaining from unilateral actions and of resolving territorial and maritime disputes through peaceful means in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). We support the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the expeditious conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).
We strongly support the EU's furthering engagement with the region through all ASEAN-led processes and take note of the EU interest in joining the East Asia Summit. We agreed to make a strong contribution to ASEAN–EU relations and consider joint ASEAN–EU policy initiatives on challenges of global concern. We also agreed to explore possibilities for joint EU Viet Nam initiatives in the UN framework.