EuroCham Whitebook 2017 Launch and EU-Vietnam FTA Outlook

The European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) is pleased to announce the official launch of the 9th edition of its annual publication: Whitebook 2017. The Whitebook provides a concise view of key concerns affecting European businesses in Vietnam in regards to trade, investment, growth and employment. This is the 9th edition of EuroCham’s annual advocacy publication on trade and investment issues and recommendations.

The Whitebook was launched at a half-day conference engaging key stakeholders and the Media. The event included 4 panel discussions, speeches by dignitaries and a presentation on the status of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). The “EUROCHAM WHITEBOOK 2017 LAUNCH & EU-VIETNAM FTA OUTLOOK” took place on the 2nd of March from 8:00 am to 14:00 pm at Melia Hanoi and attracted nearly 300 participants. The conference was held jointly by EuroCham with support from the Delegation of European Union to Vietnam (EU Delegation), The EU-Vietnam Business Network (EVBN), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

Against the backdrop of the recently concluded EU-Vietnam FTA (or “EVFTA”, expected to come into force in early 2018), the conference gathered participants from a large range of Ministries, Government authorities and Provinces, as well as European Embassies. The presence of leading European and local companies reflected the strong interest of the business community in Vietnam, particularly in the context of the upcoming bi-lateral trade treaty.

The 9th edition of the EuroCham Whitebook 2017 is a collective expression of the views of EuroCham member companies, which operate in a wide range of industries. The publication echoes the European business community’s desire to support the Vietnamese Government in the development of the current legal framework; and a positive business environment in Vietnam, for the benefit of companies, investors and society.

Underlining the significance attributed by the Vietnamese government to the EVFTA, Vice Minister Hoàng Quốc Vượng, Ministry of Industry and Trade, addressed the participants in an opening speech.

H.E. Mr. Bruno Angelet, Ambassador-Head of the EU Delegation, highlighted in his key note speech that the treaty represents an important milestone in the bilateral commercial, economic and investment links between Vietnam and the European Union. Similarly, Dr. Vu Tien Loc, President and Chair of VCCI emphasized in his key note speech the future impact of the EU-Vietnam FTA both for Vietnamese and foreign enterprises, and welcomed the initiative to cooperate even closer with EuroCham. EuroCham Chairman Michael Behrens stated in his key note speech that the bilateral treaty with the EU was another step forward to further integrate Vietnam into the global economy.

The conference attracted more than 100 Government representatives from almost all of 19 ministries. EuroCham was particularly honoured to welcome representatives of the National Assembly, Government Office, Vietnam International Arbitration Office as well as delegates from 10 Northern provinces representing Peoples’ Committees and Trade and Investment Promotion Agencies.
Ambassadors from Bulgaria, Ireland, Greece, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland and many more trade counsellors of European Embassies attended the conference. This year the interest of non-European representatives in developments of the EVFTA was reflected by the large number of ambassadors and diplomats from Australia, Canada, Egypt, Russia, Sri Lanka, Uruguay joining the conference.

Chairs of Sector Committees - key contributors of the Whitebook 2017 - together with representatives of different Ministries joined panel discussions in four sessions discussing on four thematic areas, grouping different industries and topics: Food and Health; Consumer Choice; Customs, Tax and Legal; and Sustainability and Efficiency.
 
In his closing remarks, Michael Behrens shared with the audience that the Whitebook 2017 Launch is the starting point for further in-depth dialogues between EuroCham’s Sector Committees and the respective Ministries and government authorities.

1,500 copies of this year’s edition of the Whitebook will be provided to Ministries, Embassies and Consulates, Chambers of Commerce / Business Groups (Foreign and Local), media, trade missions to Vietnam and distributed at conferences in Vietnam and Europe. In coming weeks, the Whitebook 2017 will also be presented in selected provinces. The Conference will be followed by a series of meetings and panel discussions to provide further insight into the EVFTA under the cooperation between EuroCham, VCCI, the EU Delegation, EVBN and MOFA and other stakeholders. EuroCham Whitebook 2017 will be available for download at http://www.eurochamvn.org/Whitebook by mid March 2017. EuroCham members can obtain a copy free of charge on request at EuroCham offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city.

H.E. Mr. Bruno Angelet, Ambassador-Head of the EU Delegation to Vietnam commented: “I welcome and strongly support the launch of the EuroCham's Whitebook. 2017 marks a milestone year for the relations between Vietnam and the European Union. This is the year that requires the greatest endeavour from both sides to make the best preparation for the future implementation of the bilateral EU- Vietnam FTA. The publication offers an important vehicle to convey the concerns, problems and suggested solutions of the business community to the authorities in this important context."

Dr. Vu Tien Loc, President and Chair of VCCI commented: “EuroCham Whitebook as well as its Official Launch taking place annually are always highly appreciated by VCCI. With the EVFTA implementation shortly arriving, I believe EU – Vietnam relation should be further developed than ever. For this reason, it is a pleasure for VCCI as the national organisation representing the Vietnamese business community (including domestic and FDI enterprises) to cooperate with EuroCham to organise practical activities aiming to enhance the connection of the EU FDIs and Vietnam domestic businesses.

Mr. Pierre-Jean Malgouyres, Chairman of the EU-Vietnam Business Network (EVBN) expressed his support for the Whitebook and follow-up actions for the benefit of both European and Vietnamese businesses. Within the framework of the 3rd EVBN Food & Beverage Trade Mission, which gathered around 30 visiting companies from the EU, which also attended the Whitebook Launch; Mr. Malgouyres said “EVBN and EuroCham have been cooperating on many advocacy activities throughout 2016. EVBN was proud to give 30 European businesses the opportunity to engage with stakeholders on the occasion of the Whitebook 2017 launch. Highlights of their participation were the engagement with Vietnamese provincial representatives and the panel discussions on Food and Health as well as Consumer Choice. The companies from 14 different European countries were visiting Vietnam for a 4-day mission to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi organised by EVBN. Whilst focussed on B2B meetings to find suitable business partners for their market entry in Vietnam, attending the Whitebook 2017 Launch gave the companies relevant first-hand information on the opportunities and challenges the Vietnamese market offers."
 
Michael Behrens, EuroCham Chairman said: “I am proud to present the 9th edition of our Whitebook. This publication is the materialisation of EuroCham’s rationale: advocacy, compiling our yearly work of building bridges between business and government. As in previous years, the Whitebook gathers key recommendations from the European business community in Vietnam. It is a collective message that cuts across industries and companies, providing an accurate illustration of the expectations and recommendations of EuroCham members and partners. This year, we added a new element, as selected Sector Committees also present their recommendations for the implementation of the EVFTA. EuroCham will continue to work with the Central Government, Provincial Governments, and other stakeholders. This  beneficial to policy-making and contributes to an ever progressing business environisment in Vietnam.”

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