EU import laws could hurt Viet Nam exports

“The practical implications of the new decision making process will likely extend the duration of the proceedings and reinforce the technical legitimacy of the EU Commission under political pressure,” said Olivier Prost, a partner at international law firms Gide Loyrette Nouel’s Brussel’s office and former director of the legal affairs division at the World Trade Organisation.

It is likely that before the Anti-dumping Committee meets, the EU Commission will adopt provisional duties after the Appeal’s Committee has acted.

The EU might also increasingly use countervailing measures and even “combined anti-dumping/antisubsidiary investigations, causing additional problems for Vietnamese exporters, Prost said.

He said there was growing demand within the EU for protection against international “trade distortions”, given substantial state aid in sectors such as renewable energy and telecoms.

What Vietnamese companies should note was the increasing political role of the European Parliament in such issues as labour costs, the environment and reciprocity, Prost added.

“Future possible trends in the use of anti-dumping and countervailing duties will be more proceedings with emerging markets, under the control of the World Trade Organisation,” he said.

On the subject of “zeroing” – the method used by the US in calculating dumping margins which many foreign experts consider unfair, and the EU and Japan have been trying to persuade the US to scrap – Pieter Jan Kuijper, former director of the Legal Affairs Division of WTO said: “In recent cases, the US has not used zeroing. It can be expected that this method will no longer be applied.”

In addition, foreign experts and Vietnamese authorities also raised concerns over the upcoming free trade agreement with the EU.

“Signing the FTA does not mean the elimination of trade remedies,” Prost said.

After the signing, the two parties could still apply these measures. This was particularly relevant to countries that were not recognised as market economies. In FTA negotiations, it was important Viet Nam be recognised as a market economy, especially in the FTA with the EU, he added.

Meanwhile, Dinh Thi My Loan, president of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Trade Remedies Council, also stressed the importance of being recognised as a market economy.

“The non-market economy status would adversely impact on Vietnamese exporters. In the upcoming FTA with the EU, we have to prepare well to be recognised as a market economy. We have to prepare for the worst situation as well. If Viet Nam is not recognised, we should at least urge to get the recognition no later than China,” Loan said.

So far, the EU has conducted 10 anti-dumping investigations – particularly when it comes to Vietnamese exports. Although the number seems insignificant, it poses a high risk to this market, according to Prost.

Although he acknowledged that the number of anti-dumping cases had reduced markedly in recent years, he anticipated “antisubsidiary cases will continue to rise”.