MOU Signing Ceremony between EuroCham and Vietnam Maritime Administration, Ministry of Transport in Hanoi

The European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) joined the Vietnam Maritime Administration (Vinamarine), Ministry of Transport, in a special Conference on 30 July 2020 in Hanoi. The partners updated on Opportunities and Challenges for the marine industry in light of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) about partnership on maritime relations in Vietnam.
    
              
The event gathered leaders and experts from the Vietnamese maritime sector and European business partners with several of them also joining via video conference from Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong, Da Nang, Quy Nhon and Vung Tau. Participants came from agencies of Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Industry and Trade, General Department of Customs, maritime port administrations of localities, diplomatic missions, business associations, universities, enterprises and the press.
     
       
Representing EuroCham’s Executive Committee EuroCham Vice-Chairman Mr. Jean-Jacques Bouflet affirmed the conference as a crucial one to unlock the full potential of the historic EVFTA and build stronger bridges through trade, investment, and co-operation. The trade deal is particular importance to maritime trade – since an increased trade in goods cannot happen without transport networks, supply chains, and logistics infrastructure; or, indeed, without the companies who facilitate them. Therefore, EuroCham and its 17 Sector Committees, including the Transport and Logistics Sector Committee, hope to come to a regular exchange to reach towards the common goal of providing a framework for cooperation in areas like supporting the understanding and implementation of the EVFTA in the fields of maritime and sea freight of Vietnamese enterprises and European investors operating in Vietnam. Furthermore, the Chamber is also particularly eager to bring support to help Vinamarine in assisting Vietnamese enterprises, especially those providing port, transportation – logistics services, to develop the connection with Europe.
    
Ms. Nguyen Son Tra, Deputy Head of the WTO Division, Multilateral Trade Policy Department under Ministry of Industry and Trade shared about expected impacts of the EVFTA on import – export activities between Vietnam and Europe in various aspects: tariff reductions and removals, customs and trade facilitation, ensuring protection of geographical indications.
      
Introducing specific areas of the EVFTA that will be of interest to marine companies, Mr. Oliver Regner, EuroCham Executive Director recommended collaboration opportunities between EuroCham and its Sector Committees including the one on Transportation and Logistics with Vinamarine and further Vietnamese stakeholders. Partners would: (i) share information, expertise, best practice and technology; (ii) strengthen the logistics chain in Vietnam of warehousing, contract logistics, trucking, distribution, supply chain management; (iii) explore and develop investment and cooperation in construction, operation of shipping lines, ship/container building; and (iv) promote research, capacity building on sea freight and trade development. 
     
        
From the perspective of a leading company in Vietnam´s marine industry, Mr. Le Quang Trung, Deputy Director of Vietnam National Shipping Lines agreed that the EVFTA brings opportunities but also poses challenges for Vietnamese enterprises, including the marine industry. When the trade deal comes into force on 1 August 2020, the volume of imported goods into Vietnam will significantly increase, similar to demand of transportation between Vietnam and the EU. To facilitate business operations, companies need support of the Government and management authorities to access to full preferential mechanism and prepare adequate capability ahead of the new investment wave given by EVFTA. In particular, Vinalines is studying a proposal to establish a “Vietnam House” logistics center in Belgium that provides a door-to-door logistics service for customers in both Vietnam and the EU.
    
From the perspective of an educational institution, Associate Professor Dr. Pham Xuan Duong, President of Maritime University also suggested various potentials for cooperation with EU partners under the EVFTA framework, in regard of human resources, joint ventures, etc. Closing the presentation part, Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuong, Vice Director of Shipping and Maritime Services under Vinamarine highlighted a proposal from the administration´s viewpoint, such as implementing a strategy for developing a seaports vision to 2030; enhancing capability of maritime industry, connectivity, reviewing sea port system; applying information and technology, piloting maritime information management system (PORT-Management Information System); mobilising domestic and foreign investment sources; developing logistic centers linked to ports.
   
     
In the panel discussion session, EuroCham members CMA-CGM and DEEP C provided extensive experience and proposals for Vinamarine to consider supporting and cooperating with multinational companies and foreign investors in the shipping line, port and logistic industry.
  
Vinamarine Deputy Director Mr. Hoang Hong Giang welcomed the suggestions of EuroCham and of CMA-CGM North Vietnam Branches Manager Ms. Tran Hoai Phuong on container building in Vietnam. Currently, up to 90% of containers in the world are produced in China. The proposal is especially appreciated in context of the current trend of shifting manufacturing from China to other countries. In the post-COVID-19 period, the development of this industry should be considered. Secondly, the proposal on platform development and digital solutions for container reuse with Smartlog is also welcomed. The Deputy Director pledged to further discuss with the company to understand deeper the details, legalise the proposal and implement widely, with expectation that logistic cost will be cut significantly while efficiency is enhanced. Regarding attracting used ship disposal for recycling, Vinamarine has noted it for consideration during the revision of the new draft Law on Environmental Protection.
    
Receiving recommendations from DEEP C General Director Mr. Bruno Jaspaert on third-party operated jetties and particularly intermodal solutions to reduce logistics costsand utilise available resources, Vinamarine Deputy Director Mr. Hoang Hong Giang also appreciated EuroCham for its active coordination with Vinamarine. The Chamber would play a key role as the bridge between Vietnam and the EU, representing the voice of the European business community in Vietnam. He also shared that Vietnam has been supporting multimodal transportation and Vinamarine has been studying on drafting a Resolution on connection of transportation modes in order to facilitate earliest possible delivery of goods at ports.
    
     
Mr. Giang also shared that Vietnamese companies’ ideas to build new containers, establishing the Shared Logistics Service Center as well as Vietnam House and Flanders Gateway in Europe are to be considered and Vinamarine hopes that, with the upcoming implementation of the EVFTA, EuroCham and its members can support the Vietnamese companies by sharing technology transfer to enhance logistic efficiency, and developing comprehensively the connection of transportation modes, enhancing management and operation expertise, organising trainings, as well as holding regular networkings and exchanges between European and Vietnamese companies to institutionalise their common ideas and proposals.
     
     
After the EVFTA Conference, EuroCham Vice-Chairman Mr. Jean-Jacques Bouflet and Vinamarine Deputy Director Mr. Hoang Hong Giang co-signed the Memorandum of Understanding between EuroCham and Vietnam Maritime Administration on partnership on maritime relations in Vietnam.
    
         
Together, EuroCham and Vinamarine are looking forward to work together to ensure a smooth and successful implementation of the EVFTA in the maritime sector. EuroCham believes this MoU signing is just the start of a long and fruitful relationship of co-operation and information-sharing between the Chamber and Vinamarine, Ministry of Transport, and can also set an example for the other EuroCham’s Sector Committees and Vietnamese authorities in the upcoming time.

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Sources: Vinamarine & Smartlog

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