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EU-Vietnam trade agreement enters into force

EU exports to Vietnam is taxed less as of 1 August. This is the immediate effect of the entry into force of the EU-Vietnam trade agreement that will ultimately scrap duties on 99% of all goods traded between the two sides. Doing business in Vietnam will also become easier for European companies: they will now be able to invest and pitch for government contracts with equal chances to their local competitors.

The EU-Vietnam agreement is the most comprehensive trade agreement the EU has concluded with a developing country. It takes fully into account Vietnam’s development needs by giving Vietnam a longer, 10-year period to eliminate its duties on EU imports.

However, many important EU export products, such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals or machinery will already enjoy duty-free import conditions as of entry into force. Agri-food products like beef or olive oil will face no tariffs in three years, while dairy, fruit and vegetables in maximum five years. Comprehensive provisions on sanitary and phytosanitary cooperation will allow for improving market access for EU firms via more transparent and quick procedures.

It also contains specific provisions to address regulatory barriers for EU car exports and grants protection from imitation for 169 traditional European food and drink products (like Roquefort cheese, Porto and Jerez wines, Irish Cream spirit or Prosciutto di Parma ham) recognized as Geographical Indications.

[European Commission]

EU to limit export of ‘sensitive’ tech in response to Hong Kong security law

The EU will limit the export of “sensitive” equipment that could be used for surveillance in Hong Kong as part of a joint response to China’s new “national security” legislation in the region.

EU foreign ministers expressed “grave concern” in conclusions adopted Tuesday (28 July), saying the new law restricts fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong, and calling for measures at both the national and EU level to restrict trade, review extradition rules and halt any new negotiations with Hong Kong.

“The purpose of the various measures and of the package as a whole is to express political support for Hong Kong’s autonomy under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle, and solidarity for the people of Hong Kong,” the conclusions state.

With regards to trade, the joint statement proposed “further scrutinizing and limiting exports of specific sensitive equipment and technologies for end-use in Hong Kong, in particular where there are grounds to suspect undesirable use relating to internal repression, the interception of internal communications or cybersurveillance.”

Earlier on Tuesday (28 July), Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis and trade chief Phil Hogan held a videoconference with China’s Vice Premier Liu He to discuss trade and economy issues.

“Human rights are not the focus of these meetings in general and particularly today’s meeting,” a Commission spokesperson said before the end of the videoconference, adding that “there should be no misunderstanding on China’s part as to our position on these important issues.”


Middle East

GCC pharma summit highlights improvements in production and regulatory environment

Recent initiatives in Gulf countries to facilitate patient access to new medicines and the advantages of integrating regulations related to drug trials and registration region wide were discussed at the GCC Regulatory Affairs Pharma Summit 2020, hosted in Dubai with the support of the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP).

The annual summit, now in its fifth year, was hosted online in view of the global alert against COVID-19, with representatives from the pharmaceuticals industry and healthcare administrations analyzing key drivers of regulatory reforms in the region.

The importance of data and quality management in expediting drug registration and ensuring a safer community was also emphasized by the speakers, especially in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, which called for faster responses in terms of drug trials, approvals and import.

The UAE experience in leveraging its competitive logistics network and ongoing transition into a digital economy to ensure adequate supplies of health essentials across the region was also shared by experts during the two-day summit, held 22-23 July 2020.

The UAE Law No.8 of 2019 on Medical Products, Pharmacy Profession, and Pharmaceutical Establishments has established a modern legal framework under which medical and health-related consumer goods are placed in the local market. The law encompasses processes and requirements related to clinical trials, product registration, licensing, pricing, post-market surveillance and safety reporting, among others.

Best practices and innovations in drug registration, import as well as exports and distribution in the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were presented at the summit. Regulatory requirements related to ensuring quality and safer communities in the region were also discussed in relation to the GxP assurance and validation guidelines that cover manufacturing, control, storage and distribution of pharmaceuticals.

[Salaam Gateway]



Egyptian industry welcomes plan for developing new logistics zones

Egypt is planning to develop new logistics zones in different governorates to promote intra-country trade and make the distribution system more efficient, according to industry representatives interviewed by Zawya Projects.

Recently, local newspaper Al Mal had reported that Egypt is planning to set up three logistics zones in Sharkia, Red Sea and Suez with a total investment of 14.5 billion pounds ($908 million). It quoted Ibrahim Ashmawy, head of the Internal Trade Development Authority (ITDA) as saying that the goal is to build 60 regional logistics zones until 2030, divided into eight central areas, three of which are being implemented, along with 52 regional zones, 11 of which are currently being implemented.

Fathy El Tahawy, deputy head of the Household Equipment Division in the Cairo chamber of commerce told Zawya Projects that the new zones would facilitate the setting up of large distribution facilities that would reduce transportation costs.

Samir Aref, Head of the 10th of Ramadan Investors Association, and a member of the Export Council for Engineering Industries, said that ITDA’s logistics zones would ensure smoother distribution of goods across all governorates, accelerate internal trade and ultimately foster competition among merchants to supply high quality goods at competitive prices. He added that the Sharkia governorate would include two logistics zones in Belbeis and Zagazig.

There are currently three major logistics zones in Egypt representing a total investment of about 25 billion pounds ($1.6 billion).