ADVOCACY UPDATE (01 JAN - 02 JUN 2020)

I. EVENTS

1. Vietnam Responsible Business Forum- Ho Chi Minh City, 25 November 2019

On 25 November 2019, EuroCham co-organised the Vietnam Responsible Business Forum with the International Labour Organisation, VCCI, OECD and the EU Delegation. The Forum presented wide-ranging discussions on maximizing the positive contribution of business to sustainable developmental goals and labour rights.
EuroCham Vice-Chairman Jean-Jacques Bouflet delivered an opening speech and presentation on “EVFTA - Expectations of the European Business Community and European Consumers for a Conducive Environment for Sustainable Growth”. EuroCham Vice-Chairman Jean-Jacques Bouflet and Executive Director Oliver Regner moderated a panel discussion “FTAs and Sustainable Development” and delivered presentations on “Future of Cooperation for Responsible Business”, while EuroCham Human Resources & Training Sector Committee Co-Chairwoman Sarah Galeski moderated a thematic discussion themed “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.”
    
 
           

2. EVFTA - Opportunities and Strength for Vietnam’s sustainable economic development - Hanoi, 5 January 2020

On 5 January 2020, the National Assembly's Economic Committee, in collaboration with the Institute of Training, Consulting and Economic Development (IDE), organized the Workshop: “EVFTA - Opportunities and Strength for Vietnam’s Sustainable Economic Development”. The event was attended by representatives from the National Assembly’s Economic Committee, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Central Institute of Economic Management, economic experts and nearly 200 representatives from businesses.
EuroCham Vice Chairman Nguyen Hai Minh highlighted in his speech that the EVFTA will not only benefit Vietnamese companies in trade, thanks to the elimination of duties, but will also bring a huge opportunity for them to plug themselves into the global value chains organized by EU companies. However, there is still a big question about the capability of Vietnamese enterprises to realize the opportunity, given their limits in technology, capital, human resource, and corporate governance. Vietnam should also try its best to prepare for the EVFTA, focusing more on developing a high-quality labour force, enhancing the public-private partnerships and also the awareness of Corporate Social Responsibility for local companies.
    
       

3. Investment and Business Development Forum 2020 - Ho Chi Minh City, 6 January 6 2020

In HCMC, on 6 January 2020, EuroCham Vice-Chairman Jean-Jacques Bouflet participated in the first roundtable themed “Panorama Overview of the Vietnam’s Investment and Business Development 2020” with VCCI Chairman Mr. Vu Tien Loc; and the Head of Central Economic Committee’s General Economics Department Mr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh.
Vice-Chairman Jean-Jacques shared the importance of the EVFTA in Vietnam’s macro-economics in 2020, and some of the difficulties regarding ratification in the European Parliament. EuroCham also shared the recommendations of the European business community regarding legal access, simplification of procedures and market access.
   

    

4. Ho Chi Minh City Department of Customs’ Honouring Enterprises Ceremony - Ho Chi Minh city, 13 January 2020

On 5 December 2017, Ho Chi Minh City Department of Customs organised the Honouring Enterprises Ceremony with the participation of the Chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong; Vice-Chairman of HCMC People’s Committee Tran Vinh Tuyen; Vice-Minister of Finance Vu Thi Mai; Director General of the General Department of Customs Nguyen Van Can, Deputy Director Mai Xuan Thanh; HCMC Department of Customs and other departments; Consulate generals in HCMC and Chambers of commerce. HCMC DOC affirmed cooperation with the business community will continue being a focus of 2020.
EuroCham Vice-Chairman Nguyen Hai Minh participated and delivered a key note speech representing the foreign business community, which recognised Vietnam’s strong efforts in accelerating administrative reforms, simplifying customs procedures and strengthening cooperation with the business community. EuroCham also asked for Vietnamese customs’ attention on issues of origin of goods and trade facilitation requirements under the EVFTA. EuroCham received an award of merit from HCMC DOC honouring the chamber’s active contributions in 2019. Several of EuroCham’s corporate members were also honoured at the event.

    
    

5. The Annual Vietnam Business Forum - Ha Noi, 10 January 2020

On 10 January 2020, EuroCham representatives led by Mr. Nicolas Audier, EuroCham Co-Chairman, attended the Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) in Hanoi, which was chaired by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
EuroCham’s presentation was delivered by Vice-Chairman, Mr. Ywert Visser. EuroCham’s position paper was sent to VBF with compiled inputs from GGSC, CLVN, FAABS, NFG, HR&T SC, ICT SC, Mobility SC, Cosmetics SC, W&S SC, PG, T&H SC.
At the forum, businesses received direct feedbacks from: MOF on upcoming financial legislative changes; MPI on draft Laws of PPP, Enterprises and Investment; Department of Technology Examination and Assessment (MOST) on goods labelling and technology transfer; Electricity and Renewable Energy Agency (MOIT) on Made-by-Vietnam-Energy Plan.
By December 2019, EuroCham had received written responses from MOF and GDC on topics of TLSC, HR&T SC, Mobility SC, and Tax&TP SC following the mid-term VBF 2019.

     

       

6. EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement event in Brussels - Brussles, January 2020

EuroCham Chair Nicolas Audier spoke at an event in Brussels with the EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan, Vietnam's Vice-Minister of International Trade Quoc Khanh, and the EU Ambassador to Vietnam Georgio Aliberti, alongside business associations supportive of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).
Mr Audier stressed the need for MEPs to vote in favour of the EVFTA in the European Parliament, while both the EU Trade Commissioner and others praised EuroCham for its strong support of the agreement.
More details of the events can be found here.
     
   

7. EuroCham Discusses COVID-19 and the Recommendations of the Business Community with Chairman-Minister Mai Tien Dung - Hanoi, 15 April 2020

On 15 April 2020, EuroCham Vice-Chairman Nguyen Hai Minh participated in a meeting between Chairman-Minister of the Government Office H.E. Mr. Mai Tien Dung and the business community on COVID-19. EuroCham welcomed measures taken by the Government and provided recommendations to support business and manufacturing activities to continue as far as possible. Also participating in the meeting were representatives of local Vietnamese business associations, large corporations and foreign chambers including EuroCham, USABC, and KoCham.
Providing feedback at the request of the Minister-Chairman, EuroCham Vice-Chair Mr. Nguyen Hai Minh affirmed the trust and support of the European business community in the Government’s efforts and awareness of the importance of these measures. He also shared the chamber’s recently-released Business Climate Index (BCI) of quarter 1 2020, which recorded the lowest score to date of 26 points. Sharing recommendations of EuroCham members and Sector Committees, Mr. Nguyen Hai Minh suggested not restricting the production and service activities to only production of essential goods. In the meantime, he said that the Government needs to specifically define in detail “essential goods or services” and specifically regulate the documents required for transportation in the current situation.
EuroCham welcomed the supportive measures taken by the Government, but further requested that the beneficiaries of the supporting package be expanded and not limited to a few prioritised or key industries. Policies to reduce or exempt tax and insurance, rather than defer them, would also be welcomed. The representative of EuroCham also conveyed messages of Sector Committees on topics from pharmaceuticals and medical devices to wines & spirits and cosmetics. Issues included the reduction of pre-clearance checking of customs, enhancement of applying e-signature and e-document submission, and the review process of imported hand sanitiser, among others.
In response to EuroCham’s requests, Minister-Chairman H.E. Mr. Mai Tien Dung said that he shared the difficulties of European companies’ operation in Vietnam during this pandemic and agreed to take into account all points and proposals. In particular, he supported reducing pre-clearance checking of customs; accepting EU/US standards for the COVID-19 test; and agreed that it is difficult to define essential and non-essential goods. Regarding e-signature and e-documents, the Government aims to push all provinces to adapt the public portal.
More details of the event can be found here

    
     

8. Teleconference “Introduction of the National Public Service Portal and Benefits for Businesses” held by Prime Minister's Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform - Hanoi, 19 May 2020

On 19 May 2020, the Prime Minister's Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform jointly held a teleconference "Introduction of the National Public Service Portal and Benefits for Businesses”. The conference aimed to enhance the E-government initiative and the delivery of online public services to citizens and businesses. EuroCham has also submitted its Sector Committee members’ inputs to VBF for consolidation and discussion at the meeting as well as further follow-up.
On behalf of EuroCham, Vice-Chairmen Nguyen Hai Minh and Ywert Visser attended the workshop. In the panel discussion, Mr. Nguyen Hai Minh contributed opinions gathered from the European business community. He said that EuroCham appreciates the administrative procedure reform of the Government over the last 4 years, particularly in the fields of taxation, customs and business registration.
Furthermore, administration reform mainly depends on 2 factors: people and technology. For the national public service portal (NPSP), through collecting a number of feedbacks and recommendations from members, EuroCham realised that there are remaining challenges, especially inconsistencies in implementation among localities. For example, to submit documents, businesses only need to go to the NPSP. However, in fact, some provincial or municipal officials still require paper dossiers. In many cases, even when using electronic customs procedures, Mr. Minh expressed concern about the consistent application mechanism, mandatory use requirements, or the status of electronic customs procedures where the supporting documents still need to be printed and stamped instead of using E-signatures.
Answering questions of businesses at the conference, Minister-Chairman Mai Tien Dung stated that all the opinions, proposals and recommendations from the delegates were recognised by the ACAPR. These ideas will be researched, improved and completed on the NPSP in the near future in order to create the most favourable conditions for people and businesses.
The national public service portal made its debut on December 9th 2019. It now has more than 140,000 registered accounts, 35 million visits, 7.3 million documents and processed more than 68,000 documents. It is estimated that as much as VND 6,490 billion has been saved thanks to online public services a year, which includes VND 3,036 billion from the portal.

More details of the event can be found here
    
    

9. Conference between the Prime Minister and businesses “Working Together, Overcoming Challenges, Seizing Opportunities, Recovering the Economy” - Hanoi, 9th May 2020

On 9 May 2020 in Hanoi, the Office of the Government, in co-ordination with the Ministry of Planning and Investment, organised a conference between the Prime Minister and businesses with the theme “Working Together, Overcoming Challenges, Seizing Opportunities, Recovering the Economy”. H.E. Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc chaired the event.
This conference was organised in a special format with the largest access-scale ever via video conference with 63 provinces and cities, 30 ministries and Government agencies and broadcast live on national television. About 800,000 businesses nationwide, as well as over 5 million households and people across the country could follow the event.
On behalf of EuroCham, Chairman Nicolas Audier attended the event and delivered a speech. “EuroCham welcomes the swift and decisive actions of the Government to address the spread of this pandemic. Vietnam’s response – combining swift public health measures with an effective economic package – has been recognised around the world as a model for other countries to follow. These actions have also helped to maintain the confidence of European enterprises, who continue to see Vietnam as a safe, attractive and competitive place in which to do business”, said Mr. Audier.
In his speech, EuroCham’s Chairman also stressed the importance of the ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). For a country so integrated into global supply chains and capital flows, it is essential that Vietnam protects not only its domestic enterprises but also supports the foreign companies who will be crucial to the country’s economic growth – particularly exports – once the international community has the disease under control and once global trade returns to normality. In this light, a successful ratification and implementation of the EVFTA is now more important than ever.
In addition, some other measures could be taken to ensure the continuity and fluidity of the economy. In particular, EuroCham recommends the Government of Vietnam ease the process for visa application for foreign experts coming to Vietnam and maintains the validity of marketing authorization of pharmaceutical products to ensure the supply of medicines.
More details of the event can be found here
    
     

10. Conference on recommendations for regulatory, policy and administrative procedure reforms to support post-COVID-19 business recovery - Hanoi, 26 May 2020

On 26 May 2020, the Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform, led by Chairman of the Government Office H.E. Minister Mai Tien Dung, with the participation of delegates from ministries and representatives from various business associations, held a conference on “Recommendations for Regulatory, Policy and Administrative Procedure Reform to Support Post-Covid-19 Business Recovery”. According to a recent survey by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, up to 85.7% of businesses have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, while about 47.2% of the respondents said their businesses could not export products, the survey showed.
EuroCham Vice-Chairman Nguyen Hai Minh presented about EuroCham foreign businesses’ concerns and recommendations at the meeting.
     
      

II. MEETINGS

1. EuroCham and EuroCham Sector Committees Meetings with EU Delegation - Ho Chi Minh City, 15-17th January 2020

From 15 to 17 January, 2020, EuroCham and EuroCham Sector Committees had various meetings with the EU Delegation’s Trade Mission to prepare the implementation of the EVFTA and address key issues for sectors with the participation of Dr. Carsten Schittek (Minister Counsellor, Head of the Trade and Economic Section) and Mr. Bartosz Cieleszynski (First Secretary, Trade & Economic Affairs). The delegation from EuroCham was led by Chairman Nicolas Audier; Vice-Chairman in charge of Advocacy Jean-Jacques Bouflet, together with the participation of Chairpersons and representatives from  FAABS, IQMED-G&B, Mobility SC, Pharma Group, and W&S SC.
      
    

2. Courtesy calls to key Ministries and VCCI - Hanoi, 16-17 January 2020

On 16-17 January 2020, EuroCham Vice-Chairman Nguyen Hai Minh led a EuroCham delegation to pay courtesy calls to key Ministries and VCCI. EuroCham Board member Soren Roed Pedersen also joined the meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The EuroCham delegation paid a visit to MOFA Department of Foreign Affairs of Localities Director Nguyen Hoang Long; MOIT Department of Multilateral Trade Policy Director Luong Hoang Thai; MPI Foreign Investment Agency Director Do Nhat Hoang; and VCCI Chairman Dr. Vu Tien Loc.
EuroCham handed over the 2019 EVFTA report; shared information about the WhiteBook 2020 launch and explored the possibility of Minister’s attendance; and exchanged information and proposed continued cooperation in 2020.
    
 
    

3. Meeting with the Ministry of Planning and Investment on impacts of coronavirus outbreak - Hanoi, 11 February 2020

On 11 February 2020, the Ministry of Planning and Investment called an urgent meeting with chambers of commerce and enterprises in Vietnam to assess impacts of coronavirus outbreak on business operation and investments. EuroCham Vice-Chairman Nguyen Hai Minh attended on behalf of EuroCham and shared the concerns of Board members and Sector Committees; particularly on manufacturing of companies relying on materials sourced from China; requesting solutions to support companies, and focusing on European tourists and MOH’s updates in English.

4. EuroCham meeting with Director of MOFA’s Department of Foreign affairs of Localities - Ho Chi Minh City, 28 February 2020

On 28 February 2020, Dr. Nguyen Hoang Long, Director of MOFA’s Department of Foreign affairs of Localities had a meeting at EuroCham’s office with EuroCham Chairman Nicolas; Vice-Chairman Jean-Jacques Bouflet and EuroCham Secretariat to discuss the Meet Europe event in 2020 with the main theme of EVFTA implementation and EU businesses promotion.
    

    

III. SECTOR COMMITTEE UPDATE

1. Digital Sector Committee

On 13 March 2020, EuroCham’s Information and Communication Sector Committee changed its name to the Digital Sector Committee to open their door to a broader variety of enterprises whose business is related to innovative technologies. The Digital SC are keen to welcome members from all economic sectors where digital technologies have a major role and whose perspective would be valuable to integrate in our advocacy efforts. 
In April 2020, Digital SC issued its third newsletter. The newsletter includes a summary of Digital SC’s rebranding topics, report on recent activities and articles on Industry 4.0 and Education. More details of the newsletter can be found here
   
    
On 29 May 2020, Digital SC elected Mr. Alexandre Sompheng from Ekino Vietnam to be the new Chairman. Mr Sompheng has a wealth of experience working in the IT and services industry and is highly skilled in digital architecture and applications. Mr. Sompheng is committed to building a stronger Digital SC by developing its membership, organising events, building bridges with other groups of common interests and increasing external communication.

2. Human Resources & Training Sector Committee

On Friday 8May 2020, EuroCham hosted a webinar with two special guest speakers from Baker McKenzie – an active member of EuroCham’s Human Resources & Training Sector Committee. The event brought together over 50 participants to discuss how companies can handle cost-saving measures and labour issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
   

   
EuroCham Executive Director Oliver Regner hosted the event, which also featured Mr Van Trung Khuat, Senior Associate at Baker McKenzie; and Mr Tung Phong Luc, Paralegal at Baker McKenzie. More details of the event can be found here.

 

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