Ho Chi Minh City – 8 December: 2016 marks the 18th anniversary of EuroCham Vietnam, the most representative organisation of European business in the country, an organisation that grew from a modest group of 60 companies in 1998 to one of the largest European chambers of commerce in Southeast Asia, with 950 members today.
On its 18th anniversary year, EuroCham accelerated its activities and engagement, having shown what a mature and professionalised organisation can do when its purposes are clear and its capabilities aligned and sustainable. The amount of milestones activities put forth by EuroCham this year shows how the organisation that better represents the European-Vietnamese business community has been active as its voice and its focal point.
Launching its Whitebook every year since 2009, EuroCham gave its members and Sector Committees a medium which reflects the recommendations of its members to the Vietnamese Government. The Whitebook is always met with high expectations and distributed to various sectors of Government. This publication is one of EuroCham’s landmark activities and has made a difference in the way business interacts with Vietnam’s public sector, while contributing to a culture of better consultative policy-making in the country. Today, the Whitebook launch is an important political event in Vietnam. Its February 2016 launch was accompanied by a half-day conference, attended by a number of high-level officials of the Government and receiving extensive attention from the media.
EuroCham is also a platform for companies of specific industries to meet and discuss matters of common interest. In 2016, EuroCham established New Sector Committees, including International Quality Generics, Medical Devices and Diagnostics and Mobility, now counting 16.
The organisation has also taken a strategy of opening its doors to the media, developing internal media management capabilities which allowed it, not only to welcome the media to its activities more often, but to organise events such as “Meet the Media” in Hanoi and HCMC, a new approach which brings about a direct interaction with journalists and media makers.
Also, for the first time in 18 years, EuroCham launched its EuroCham Central Vietnam Chapter this past November, its first representation outside of HCMC and Hanoi, having carried out the first EuroCham Central Vietnam Business Forum on the occasion.
Having received the Prime Minister’s Award in 2011 for its contribution to the development of Vietnam, EuroCham continues to grow as a trusted dialogue partner for the Vietnamese Government. The Chamber has been a crucial organisation in helping the European business community in Vietnam to convey their messages to the authorities, either through its intensive day-to-day advocacy work, or the numerous multi-topical business-to-Government dialogues that EuroCham organises throughout the year. In 2016, for instance, EuroCham and its members met with numerous leaders, among which Vietnam Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Deputy Governor of State Bank Madam Nguyen Thi Hong, Secretary of Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee and Member of the Politburo Dinh La Thang, to name but a few. EuroCham’s early engagement with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s Government allowed the Chamber to build effective bridges to the present Government, having been able to effectively cooperate on trade issues and recommendations on behalf of its members.
But EuroCham’s efforts to bring its members closer to decision-makers are not limited to Vietnam. In addition to the historically close cooperation with the EU Delegation to Vietnam and the European Countries’ Permanent Representations in Vietnam, EuroCham has succeeded in attracting high-level EU officials to business events and closed meetings. These are occasions where EuroCham members have the opportunity to interact directly with the European Single Market’s decision-makers and the organisation has gained a respected reputation in Europe as the focal point for European business in Vietnam. In 2016, EuroCham accompanied the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan, as well as the EU’s Chief Negotiator for the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), Mauro Petriccione. In the past, the EU’s top officials also participated in EuroCham activities in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, among which were the former President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso (2014), Vice-President of the European Commission, Antonio Tajani (2013) and Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council (2012).
Beyond an advocacy-focused Chamber itself, EuroCham is also a platform for other European national chambers, which have affiliated themselves with the organisation, contributing to a more united voice of the European business community over the last 18 years. Because of the immediate success of its early years, EuroCham built a sort of credibility that allowed it to merit the trust of 8 national European National Business Associations (BAs), which gradually joined as affiliated organisations since 2003. This relationship has strengthened EuroCham as a key business association, but also a platform built for the collective effort of its affiliated organisations, mirroring the strength of European collectiveness on Vietnamese soil.
On the occasion of its Annual Christmas Party, organised on the day of its 18th Anniversary (8th December 2016) EuroCham Chairman Michael Behrens said: “EuroCham is now 18 years old, but the business community it represents has reached its maturity a long time ago. A EuroCham that learns from these companies is an organisation that runs smoothly, efficiently, sustainably, and lives up to the standards of reliability and credibility that describe European businesses, products and professionals. We are proud to lead this organisation and mindful of the responsibility to continue its legacy, while taking it forward and towards the future, in a context where Europe will be the preferred trade partner of Vietnam outside Asia, under what we all hope will be a game-changing EVFTA”.
The EuroCham Christmas Party marked the 18th Anniversary of EuroCham, and took place at the Sofitel Plaza in Ho Chi Minh City on the 8th December 2016, after a previous celebration in Hanoi on the 6th December.