Why does the EU want to treat the UK worse than Vietnam?

Graham Charles Lear
5 min readJun 26, 2019


I think we all know why but here are some actual facts

Yesterday the EU’s Council of Ministers approved the EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements. EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and Romanian Minister for Business, Trade, and Entrepreneurship Ștefan-Radu Oprea will sign the agreement on the EU’s behalf in Hanoi this coming Sunday, 30 June.

On Sunday the EU will sign a trade deal with Vietnam. Vietnam will :

  1. Not be forced to be a member of the Customs Union

2. Not be forced to be a member of the Single Market

3. Not be forced to have its laws decided in Brussels by a foreign court

4. Not be forced to pay vast amounts to the EU each year

5. Not be forced to subsidize poorer EU countries

6. Not be forced to accept freedom of movement of EU citizens.

In effect, Vietnam will have free trade with the EU, but without the ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ obligations

  1. Vietnam represented only 0.6% of EU global exports in 2018

2. Vietnam bought only €11.1 billion of goods from the EU last year

3 The UK bought €301.4 billion of goods from the EU last year — 27 times that of Vietnam

4. Vietnam was responsible for an EU trade DEFICIT in 2018 of €27 billion Euros

5. The EU had a trade SURPLUS OF €107.3 billion of goods with the UK last year (approx £96 billion GBP)

6 Summary: the EU earns massively from the UK, but loses in trade with Vietnam

The trade agreement with the former French colony of Vietnam will eliminate nearly all customs duties on goods traded between the two sides in a progressive way. The EU says that 99% of products will have no tariffs when the deal is fully in force.

The EU’s Commissioner for Trade, who was appointed with no trade experience.

The EU has a Commissioner for Trade, appointed by Jean-Claude Juncker. Her name is Cecilia Malmström. She was appointed by President Juncker despite the fact that she had no experience of trade.

On Sunday she will be in Vietnam signing this new agreement. An indication of Ms. Malmström’s and the EU’s priorities can be observed in the five key achievements listed in the EU’s factsheet on this trade agreement with Vietnam. Third on the list is ‘Protecting Geographical Indications’.

“169 traditional European food and drinks products from a specific geographical origin will be protected against imitation on the Vietnamese market. This includes famous European delicacies like Champagne, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Rioja wine, and Feta cheese.”

Once again we see the EU focusing on matters of interest to other EU member states but of little interest to the UK. Readers may also like to know that the EU insisted that Vietnam must recognize ‘Made in EU’ as the mark of origin of goods it imports from EU member states. Not ‘Made in the UK’ or ‘Made in France’, but ‘Made in EU’ — as if the EU were a country.

What has the EU actually achieved with this deal?

Not much. Vietnam already benefited from zero tariffs on a wide range of products.

As the EU admits in one of its documents “Many Vietnamese products currently benefit from trade preferences offered unilaterally by the EU under the General Scheme of Preferences (GSP). The agreement will allow Vietnam to maintain free access to the EU market for those products also in the future, even if its economic situation no longer justifies a preferential treatment reserved for developing countries. In addition, the agreement will lead to a gradual tariff elimination for the remaining products.”

Critically, the EU has a trade deficit with Vietnam of €27 billion. Vietnam sells the EU almost three and a half times more than the EU sells to Vietnam.

The EU had a trade SURPLUS with the UK in 2018 of €107.3 billion (approx £96 billion GBP). The EU sold over €301 billion of goods to the UK last year.

MPs denied any say on this trade deal

Trade is one of the areas of ‘exclusive competence’ of the EU Commission. This means that the unelected Ms. Malmström oversees all negotiations for trade agreements. Member state governments such as the UK cannot discuss trade separately.

On Sunday this EU Commissioner will be accompanied in Hanoi by the Romanian Minister for Trade Ștefan-Radu Oprea. Together they will represent the UK and the other 27 member states. The UK Secretary of State for International Trade, the Rt Hon Dr. Liam Fox MP, is not invited, nor is any other minister of any other member state.

Meanwhile, in the UK, British Remain MPs will be still talking about Brexit, and about their claim that there is a democratic need for Parliament to decide on it. They will, of course, ignore the fact that the EU denies them any democratic say on its latest trade deal — or indeed on any trade deals.

For decades the EU did almost nothing about international trade. They still haven’t managed to do a trade deal with the world’s largest economy, the USA, nor with China, or India, or Brazil or most of the world’s largest economies.

Since the UK’s Referendum, the unelected EU Commission have been falling over themselves to announce trade deals, so much so that we have seen the same trade deal announced on many different occasions, as it passes through the EU’s laborious processes. We confidently predict the same thing will happen with this deal with Vietnam.

The EU earns from the UK, but it doesn’t from Vietnam. The EU is NOT demanding that Vietnam has a membership of the Customs Union or Single Market, nor jurisdiction of the ECJ, nor vast annual payments to the EU, nor freedom of movement.

Finally, a few questions to Remain MPs

Are you happy that a trade deal has been negotiated with Vietnam, over which you had no say and no control?
Are you not the tiniest bit concerned about the effect on UK jobs and on the UK economy?
Wouldn’t you like to ask questions about the potential flooding of the UK market with cheap Vietnamese products?

There are two main points here. Firstly this is not the rights and wrongs of this trade deal, but the fact that MPs can’t even question it. Secondly here is another trade deal without all the encumbrances of EU membership.

The next time Remain MPs are bleating about ‘Parliament having a say’, readers may want to ask themselves why these MPs never demand a say on all the vital areas controlled by the EU, and over which MPs have no say whatsoever.

Readers may also wonder why the UK can’t have a simple trade deal with the EU when all our laws and regulations are currently aligned.

[ Sources: EU Commission statements, press releases, factsheets | Eurostat official EU stats agency ]



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.