A seminar entitled, “The labour issue in free trade agreements (FTAs) - international experience - opportunities and challenges for Vietnam ” was held in Hanoi on April 29.

Co-organised by the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Office in Vietnam, the first-ever event took place in the context of the Vietnamese government holding negotiations on a number of bilateral and multilateral FTAs, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, and preparing for negotiations on the EU-Vietnam FTA.

According to Nguyen Kim Phuong, Deputy Director of MoLISA’s Department for International Cooperation, Vietnam has not yet signed any bilateral or multilateral agreements with articles on labour standards.

Therefore, labour standards are considered a new issue for Vietnam in its TPP negotiations.

The participants at the seminar emphasised the need to raise awareness and consensus on negotiating on labour and trade unions in FTAs.

In addition, plans to complete national law must be built and implemented as soon as possible alongside strengthening the capacity of the labour inspection and information-statistical systems, they added.

To date, TPP member countries have held six negotiation rounds and the seventh is expected to take place in Ho Chi Minh City in late June.

TPP is the first free trade agreement where Vietnam joins negotiations containing commitments on labour standards, including trade union freedom./.