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EU-Vietnam trade agreement enters into force

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EU exports to Vietnam will be taxed less as of tomorrow, 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. Under the new agreement, the economic benefits go hand in hand with guarantees of respect for labour rights, environment protection and the Paris Agreement on climate, through strong, legally binding and enforceable provisions on sustainable development.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “The European economy needs now every opportunity to restore its strength after the crisis triggered by the coronavirus. Trade agreements, such as the one becoming effective with Vietnam today, offer our companies a chance to access new emerging markets and create jobs for Europeans. I strongly believe this agreement will also become an opportunity for people of Vietnam to enjoy a more prosperous economy and witness a positive change and stronger rights as workers and citizens in their home country.”

Commissioner for Trade, Phil Hogan, commented: “Vietnam is now part of a club of 77 countries doing trade with the EU under bilaterally agreed preferential conditions.  The agreement strengthens EU economic links with the dynamic region of South-East Asia and has an important economic potential that will contribute to the recovery after the coronavirus crisis. But it also shows how trade policy can be a force for good. Vietnam has already made a lot of effort to improve its labour rights record thanks to our trade talks and, I trust, will continue its most needed reforms.”

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) recognised as Geographical Indications.

At the same time, the trade agreement expresses a strong commitment of both sides to environment and social rights. It sets high standards of labour, environmental and consumer protection and ensures that there is no ‘race to the bottom’ to promote trade or attract investment.

Under the agreement, the two parties have committed to ratify and implement the eight fundamental Conventions of International Labour Organization (ILO), and respect, promote and effectively implement the principles of the ILO concerning fundamental rights at work; implement the Paris Agreement, as well as other international environmental agreements, and act in favour of the conservation and sustainable management of wildlife, biodiversity, forestry and fisheries; and involve independent civil society in monitoring the implementation of these commitments by both sides. Vietnam has already made progress on these commitments by ratifying in June 2019 ILO Convention 98 on collective bargaining and in June 2020 ILO Convention 105 on forced labour. It also adopted a revised Labour Code in November 2019 and confirmed that it would ratify the one remaining fundamental ILO Convention on forced labour by 2023.

The trade agreement also includes an institutional and legal link to the EU-Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, allowing appropriate action in the case of serious breaches of human rights.

The entry into force of the trade agreement has been preceded by its approval by EU Member States in the Council and its signature in June 2019, and the European Parliament’s approval in February 2020.

Background

Vietnam is the EU’s second largest trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after Singapore, with trade in goods worth €45.5 billion in 2019  and trade in services of some €4 billion (2018).

The EU’s main exports to Vietnam are high-tech products, including electrical machinery and equipment, aircrafts, vehicles, and pharmaceutical products. Vietnam’s main exports to the EU are electronic products, footwear, textiles and clothing, as well as coffee, rice, seafood, and furniture.

With a total foreign direct investment stock of €7.4 billion (2018), the EU is one of the largest foreign investors in Vietnam. Most EU investments are in industrial processing and manufacturing.

The agreement with Vietnam is the second trade agreement the EU has concluded with an ASEAN member state, following the recent agreement with Singapore. It represents an important milestone in the EU’s engagement with Asia, adding to the already existing agreements with Japan and Republic of Korea.

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In Times of Division, Arts and Culture Bring Us Together: Meet the Davos Cultural Leaders

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Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist, USA, captured during the 'Presentation of the Crystal Award' at the Annual Meeting 2008 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 25, 2008. Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org) www.swiss-image.ch/Photo by Andy Mettler

The World Economic Forum announced today the participation of prominent cultural leaders in the Annual Meeting 2022 in Davos-Klosters. These prominent figures will join their peers from business, government, the media and civil society to advance dialogue on how to reconnect in a post-pandemic era and unite to rebuild a world of inclusivity and sustainability under the meeting’s theme “History at a turning point: Government policies and business strategies”.

Cultural leaders will include former Crystal Award recipients world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and musician will.i.am; portrait and documentary photographer Platon; Verbier Festival and Academy founder and director Martin Engström; Grammy-winning classical pianist Emanuel Ax; singer/songwriter, actress and activist Inna Modja; and new media artist and director Harry Yeff.

“Never has there been a time more important, more pressing, then the present for arts and culture to unite us,” said Joseph Fowler, Head of Arts and Culture at the World Economic Forum. “When you experience culture, there is a sense of expansion when you cease to think about yourself and you feel part of something larger. The creative sectors are some of the most important when it comes to social impact and human connection and when they are coupled with the power of new technologies, arts and culture have an immense potential to nurture a culture of peace.”

Arts and culture will be integrated across throughout the Annual Meeting 2022:

Thepower and potential of the human voice is the focus of Voice Gems – Messages of Hope. Created by Harry Yeff and Trung Bao, the Voice Gems system sculpts over 200,000 particles with fingerprint-like voice data to create the colours and form of the each unique gem stone. The exhibition will feature a total of 17 messages of hope that have been recorded by a diverse selection of people including primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall; creative innovator, entertainer and tech investor will.i.am; poet and author Rupi Kaur; author and disability advocate Sinead Burke; and spiritual leader Sadhguru.

The Annual Meeting concert entitled “Our Shared Humanity” – to be performed byYo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax – is a celebration of humanity and shared hopes for a united and prosperous future. The accompanying immersive backdrop includes images provided by Atlas of Humanity as well as an exclusive filmed performance by dancer and choreographer Ahmad Joudeh. It is also a musical statement of support and solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

In collaboration with the Natural History Museum – London, a selection of photographs from the 2021 edition of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition will be showcased, inviting viewers to gaze through the lens of some of the world’s best wildlife photographers and explore the natural world in all its fragility, diversity and wonder.

Exploring the endless scope of opportunity the Metaversepresents, the Forum has partnered with Microsoft and Accenture to create the Global Collaboration Village. This will be anopen, collaborative platformbuilt together with international organizations, governments, civil society organizations and arts organizations. The overall concept and architecture will be showcased at Davos as well as a prototype of the experience and its functionality. An immersive experience will tell the story of the Sahel and Africa’s Great Green Wall Initiative supported by 1T.org.

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After Two-Year Hiatus, Open Forum returns to Davos at a Crucial Turning Point in History

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As part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022, this year’s Open Forum Davos will focus on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the role of multilateralism for peace in Europe as well as other global challenges.

Taking place for the first time since January 2020, the Open Forum offers a platform for debate and interaction on controversial issues between the public and scholars, business leaders and policy-makers around improving the state of the world.

Young and diverse voices will also play a prominent role in the discussions, with one session on youth mental health co-designed and moderated by students from Geneva, Switzerland. Each session will include at least one member of the Forum’s Global Shapers Community, a wide-ranging network of people under 30 from all walks of life and different parts of the world.

Ignazio Cassis, President of the Swiss Confederation, among other high-level panellists, will be joined by Ievgeniia Bodnya, 27, who mobilized the Global Shaper Hub she leads in Kyiv to build the Support Ukraine Now, a crowdsourcing and sharing information platform for people to support Ukrainians affected by the war. In another session, Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko and his brother Wladimir, Chairman of the Klitschko Foundation, will talk about how the Russian invasion has affected them and their country.

Also present at the Open Forum will be a group of climate activists, including 26-year-old Vanessa Nakate, author and climate advocate who addressed world leaders at the World Economic Forum 2020. The activists will articulate how to turn words into action to fight the climate crisis. Gender equality will also feature prominently in the conversations.

On the digital front, the last two years have seen the blending of in-person and virtual interactions. Peggy Johnson, Chief Executive Office of augmented reality company Magic Leap, will introduce the possibilities of the Metaverse and then join a panel of experts, including Pascal Kaufmann, President and Founder of the Mindfire Foundation, the brain behind Lab42, which is setting up shop in Davos in July and aims to become the largest AI lab in the world.

Additional panellists who will participate in this year’s Open Forum Davos include:

  • Ignazio Cassis, President of the Swiss Confederation and Federal Councillor for Foreign Affairs of Switzerland
  • Stephane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer, Moderna
  • Isabella Eckerle, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Geneva
  • Vivianne Heijnen, Minister for the Environment, Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands
  • Mikaela Jade, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Indigital
  • Peggy Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, Magic Leap Inc.
  • Marco Lambertini, Director-General, WWF International
  • Edward Lewin, Vice-President and Head of Government and Public Affairs, LEGO Group
  • Klaus Moosmayer, Chief Ethics, Risk and Compliance Officer, Novartis AG
  • Seth Moulton, Congressman from Massachusetts
  • Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Laureate, Nadia’s Initiative; Co-Founder, Global Survivors Fund (GSF), Global Survivors Fund
  • Anna Riedl, Cognitive Scientist and Global Shaper, Vienna Hub
  • Philipp Wilhelm, Mayor of Davos
  • Sakena Yacoobi, Executive Director, Afghan Institute of Learning

Open Forum Programme

Monday 23 May

12.30 – 13.30 A Discussion with the Klitschkos

18.30 – 20.00 A Wake-Up Call from Nature

Tuesday 24 May

09.00 – 10.30 Growing Up in the Pandemic

14.30 – 16.00 Working Together for Peace

18.30 – 20.00 Ethical Decision-Making in Times of Crisis

Wednesday 25 May

09.00 – 10.30 Turning Words into Action

12.30 – 14.00 A Discussion about Equality

18.30 – 20.00 Racial Disparities in Refugee Treatment

Thursday 26 May

09.00 – 10.30 The Possibilities of the Metaverse

The Open Forum Davos, now in its 19th year, will open its doors to the public from 23 to 26 January in Davos, Switzerland. It will be held at the Tobelmühle Sports Hall, Tobelmühlestrasse 4 e, Davos Platz, Switzerland. Those who missed the deadline to attend in person can watch the sessions via webcast at www.weforum.org/open-forum #wef22 #openforum. Sessions will be also available on YouTube after the event.

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Countries review progress on global migration compact

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migrants refugees
photo: IOM/Amanda Nero

Although many migrants worked on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, risking their own lives to save others, they were at times denied access to basic services and excluded from recovery plans, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in New York on Thursday. 

Mr. Guterres was addressing the official opening of a meeting to review progress towards implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, adopted by governments in 2018. 

The first International Migration Review Forum will also examine the interplay between migration and broader concerns, including the pandemic, conflict, development finance, and the climate emergency.  

Lessons from the pandemic 

While commending efforts to improve the lives of migrants, such as helping them to integrate into host countries, Mr. Guterres noted that these measures are too often the exception and not the norm. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has painfully demonstrated how far we still are from realizing rights-based, child-sensitive, and gender-responsive governance of international migration for all,” he said. 

Globally, there are an estimated 281 million international migrants worldwide, who have left their home countries for travel, work, or other opportunities, or due to conflict, poverty, natural disasters or other crises. 

Migration is a fact of life, the Secretary-General said, but too often it has been poorly managed, uncoordinated, misunderstood, and vilified.   

Making migration safer 

“Today, over 80 per cent of the world’s migrants move between countries in a safe and orderly fashion.  But unregulated migration – the cruel realm of traffickers – continues to extract a terrible cost,” said Mr. Guterres. 

He underlined the humanitarian, moral and legal imperatives for safe and orderly migration as thousands still die each year in the pursuit of opportunity, greater dignity, and a better way of life.  

“We must do more to break the stranglehold of smugglers and better protect migrants in vulnerable situations, in particular women and girls,” he said. 

Countries must also expand and diversify what the UN chief called “rights-based pathways for migration” and ensure that returns and readmissions are safe and in full accordance with international law. 

The Global Compact represents the international community’s resolve to put human rights into practice to transform how we understand and manage migration, he said.  

 Mr. Guterres said migrants are a part of society and must also be part of the renewed social contract, outlined in his Our Common Agenda report, to build trust, increase participation, and strengthen social cohesion. 

Support for governments 

“The Global Compact speaks to the heart of the mission of the United Nations. It is a global response to a global phenomenon for which we need to be much better prepared.” 

The Secretary-General also highlighted support to Member States through the UN Network on Migration, which has established a mechanism to contribute technical, financial and human resources towards the Compact’s implementation. 

The four-day International Migration Review Forum began on Tuesday and will conclude on Friday.  Roundtables and a policy debate were held on the first two days, with the final two days devoted to plenary meetings. A progress declaration is set to be adopted 

The Secretary-General urged participants to secure a strong political outcome through actionable pledges and strong monitoring and follow-up mechanisms.   

 “Let us keep up the momentum as we work together for a safer and more prosperous future for us all, including migrants,” he said. 

‘Terrible human cost’

In his remarks, the President of the UN General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, emphasized the need to act now, drawing attention to “the terrible human cost”.

He said at least 8,436 migrant deaths were recorded globally between 1 January 2019 and 24 November 2021. A further 5,534 migrants went missing and are presumed dead, adding that these were just the reported numbers.

Behind every number is a family, a community, a life. They seek what we seek. They dream what we dream – Opportunity. Dignity. A better life,” said Mr. Shahid.

“Our ability to protect and to integrate migrants is not only a barometer of the health of our institutions – but of the empathy we feel for our fellow human beings; of our will to do right by our own conscience; of our commitment to upholding the basic human rights of all.”

Mr. Shahid told the conference that as countries work to recover from the pandemic, and to achieve sustainable development by 2030, they will need the contribution from all in society, including migrants.

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