The way in which this EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement has been put together is similar to the EU-Japan EPA. For importers and exporters, the (phased) reduction of import duties and obligations that apply to certain products or their elimination are particularly important.
Import duties in both the Union and Vietnam on a large number of products will be 0% with immediate effect from 1 August. For other products, the reduction will be spread over several years. The number of years and the nature of the phasing out vary from product to product. However, a limited number of variants have been chosen that can be applied, varying from "A", whereby the duties are immediately 0%, to "B15", whereby the phase-out is spread over a period of 16 years.
At the bottom of this article you will find a link to the website of the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland and a link to the Official Journal L186 of the European Union.
What is important to know when exporting to Vietnam?
In order to prove this preferential origin on import into Vietnam for goods from the European Union (EU), the importer in Vietnam must use a declaration of origin. This is the so-called 'REX declaration', issued by the exporter in the Union. Therefore, exporters must register with customs as a "Registered Exporter" (REX), if they have not already done so. The number assigned is used in the Attestation of Origin. It should be mentioned on a document (or a trade document) that accompanies the shipment. Often this is the invoice that relates to the shipment.
What if you are importing from Vietnam?
When importing into the EU, you must also prove that goods originate in Vietnam and are therefore eligible for a preferential tariff. For this purpose, you must submit a certificate of origin EUR.1. For shipments with a value of up to €6,000 of originating goods, a declaration of origin signed by the exporter is also sufficient.
Transitional provisions from GSP to the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
The EU had already granted trade preferences to Vietnam under the GSP (Generalised System of Preferences). These will expire on 1 January 2023. During the period that both the GSP and the EU-Vietnam FTA are in force, you as an exporter or importer can decide which arrangement you use.
As an EU importer, are you making a claim for preference under the EU-Vietnam FTA and is that tariff less favourable than the one under the GSP? Then the rate under the APS will still apply. This concerns the APS rate as it applies on 31 July 2020. Any adjustments to the APS rate after this date will not be applied. All the conditions for the preferential rate must then be met. Thus, the preferential customs duty based on the EU-Vietnam FTA will never be higher than the preferential customs duty under the GSP. This rule will be applied automatically and will last for the first 7 years after the EU-Vietnam FTA has entered into force.
When products are exported from Vietnam under the GSP, the rules of origin of the GSP are applied. This also applies to the proofs of origin. Thus, for exports from Vietnam under the GSP, a proof of origin under the REX system is required. As an importer into the EU, you cannot claim tariff preference under the GSP by using a proof of origin that falls under the EU-Vietnam FTA. The same applies vice versa.
What exceptions are there?
Exceptions and peculiarities; there are plenty of them. It is especially important to know that they can exist. Carefully research per product you want to import/export in which category it falls and what the reductions and conditions are.