(Jan. 23, 2009) On December 25, 2008, Vietnam and Japan concluded an Economic Partnership Agreement; it is expected to come into effect early in 2009, following ratification by each party. It was signed in Tokyo by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Hirofumi Nakasone, and the Minister for Industry and Trade of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, Vu Huy Hoang. (Joint Statement at the Signing of the Agreement Between Japan and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam for an Economic Partnership, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) website, Dec. 25, 2008, available at http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/vietnam/epa0812/joint.html.) The goal of the Agreement is to strengthen bilateral economic, trade, and investment cooperation and the scope is broad, including goods, services, investment, business environment improvement, and labor and technical cooperation. The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), with provisions designed to assist Vietnam in developing support industries, improving human resource training, encouraging investment from Japan in the spare parts manufacturing industry, and creating other business cooperation opportunities. The MOU was also completed on December 25.
According to Vietnam's chief negotiator on the deal, Phan The Rue, the Economic Partnership Agreement will provide access to capital, technology, raw materials, and other commodities, creating a firm foundation for a future bilateral free trade area. (Text of the Agreement in English translation, MOFA website, http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/vietnam/epa0812/agreement.pdf (last visited Jan. 15, 2009); Vietnam, Japan Sign Economic Partnership Deal, VIETNAM LAW AND LEGAL FORUM, Jan. 15, 2009, available at http://news.vnanet.vn/vietnamlaw/service.asp?CATEGORY_ID=1&SUBCATEGORY_ID=