ADVOCACY UPDATE: MAY | Week 2-4 |&| JUNE | Week 1-2

The Advocacy Update, posted regularly, is dedicated to updating our members and visitors on EuroCham's advocacy action on behalf of its members and Sector Committees. For general information on events which might be referred to in this section kindly follow the mentioned links or check our Events section. This Update includes information on: 1. Advocacy in Events / 2. Meetings with Government and other Stakteholders / 3. Sector Committee Updates

MAY | Week 2-4 |&| JUNE | Week 1-2

I. Advocacy in Events

1. MOLISA Conference on Social Insurance for foreign employees in Vietnam | Ho Chi Minh, 26 May 2017
EuroCham's Human Resources and Training Sector Committee presented at this workshop, which aimed to collect comments from the business community in regards to the draft Decree on compulsory social insurance. The event was co-hosted by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs, and the Vietnam Social Insurance Authority. The conference gathered 60 participants, including representatives of MOLISA, the Government Office, DOLISAs, social insurance authorities of provinces in the southern region, foreign chambers of commerce; along with invited companies with a large foreign workforce. In its presentation, EuroCham raised that the participation in compulsory social insurance should be a right with an optional nature for employers and foreign employees; but not an obligation. In addition, social insurance benefits should cover 3 regimes: sickness, maternity and labor accidents only. Regimes of retirement and survivorship allowance should not be compulsory for foreign employees, given the fact that a large number of foreign employees work in Vietnam for short periods of time.
2. VCCI Seminar Assisting Provinces on Trade, Investment & Tourism Promotion in Preparation for the Vietnam Business Summit | Hanoi, 2 June 2017
Mr. Soren Roed Pedersen, EuroCham Board Member, attended and delivered a speech on How to export goods from Vietnam to the EU? at the Seminar "Assisting Provinces on Trade, Investment & Tourism Promotion in Preparation for the Vietnam Business Summit"; organised by Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam in Hanoi. The Seminar aimed to provide guidelines to provincial authorities on how to showcase their potential in trade, investment, tourism, and culture; in preparation for the upcoming Vietnam Business Summit - to be held on 7th November 2017, in Danang. EuroCham joined as an invited foreign business association to present about goods and services that may have advantages in the EU and the sectors in Vietnam that are most attractive to EU investor. The upcoming EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) deserved special attention in Mr. Pedersen's address. Moreover, he also shared experiences on how to meet the demand of the EU's market and what needs to be considered while dealing with European partners and investors. Mr. Pedersen reiterated EuroCham's willingness to support the Government, as well local authorities to promote trade between Vietnam and the EU, and make the most of benefits under EVFTA. The inputs and contribution given by EuroCham were appreciated by the authorities, which later followed up with EuroCham go have more other details in the presentation.

3. TLSC Workshop on publishing of Freights and Surcharges of Ocean Container Shipping and Seaport Charges | Ho Chi Minh, 8th  June 2017
EuroCham and its Transportation & Logistics Sector Committee together with the Vietnam Maritime Administration (VMA) under the Ministry of Transport, co-organized the Workshop on Publishing of Freights and Surcharges of Ocean Container Shipping and Seaport Charges. The event was dedicate to the new provisions introduced in Decree No. 146/2016/ND-CP on publishing of Freights and Surcharges of Ocean Container Shipping and Seaport Charges (Decree 146); Decision No. 3863/QD-BGTVT; and Decision No. 3946/QD-BGTVT on the pricing framework at Vietnamese seaports. The workshop gathered interest of 150 participants, ranging from public officials, relevant businesses, and shipping line representatives in in Ho Chi Minh City and the South-Eastern region. From 1st July, seaport and shipping companies shall publish their service charges, as wel as the freights, service charge and surcharges on the their company's website, which can be verified by VMA. This publication can also be requested to be submitted to the State authorities. This will help to ensure transparency and avoid charging unreasonable charges to import/export businesses, which were reportedly paying additional fees collected by shipping companies. However, some recommendations from concerned enterprises remain, which were raised at this workshop by EuroCham members. Mr. Bui Thien Thu, Deputy Director of VMA answered a question regarding the lack of compliance, announcing that there would be measures applied in accordance with the Price Law No. 11/2012/QH13. Representatives of the EuroCham Transportation and Logistics Sector Committee expressed their willingness to cooperate with the authorities to ensure the smooth transition to the framework established by Decree 146. Particularly, EuroCham is looking forward to the decision guiding implementation of Decree 146, which will be issued shortly as informed by VMA at this Conference. More details about the event can be found here.

4. Vietrade Workshop on Promoting furniture and handicraft to the European Market | Ho Chi Minh, 13 June 2017
EuroCham Vice Chairman, Mr. Nicolas Audier was invited to present on the "EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement: Opportunities and Challenges for the Development of Vietnam's Handicraft and Furniture industry". His presentation was delivered at the workshop Promoting furniture and handicraft to the European Market, co-organised by the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade), under the Ministry of Industry and Trade;  and the EU-Vietnam MUTRAP project. The event had the participation and presentation of Ms. Bui Thi Thanh An, Deputy Director of Vietrade; Ms. Jana Herceg - Deputy Head of Economics & Trade Section of the EU Delegation to Vietnam; and Mr. Nguyen Quoc Khanh, Chairman of the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association (HAWA). Joining the list of speakers and panelists were also Ms. Trang Tran and Mr. Johannes Schwegler, an expert from Swiss Import Promotion Programme (SIPPO).  With the entry into force of the EVFTA in 2018, most of the handicraft and furniture exported from Vietnam to the EU will be exempted from taxes, especially for processed wood. Price of wood processing machinery and equipment imported from EU will also be subject to less charges. Moreover, Vietnamese companies will be able to enjoy favourable conditions when importing more timber from the EU, aiming at producing products of better quality. EU partners can support Vietnamese companies by providing high-technology, technical solution, machinery and design; enhancing work efficiency and awareness on product origin, as well as Corporate Social Responsibility. Eurocham expects EU-Vietnam trade in this sector to increase significantly after the EVFTA comes into force.  More details about the event can be found here.
5. VCCI Kick-off Ceremony of the programme “Improving the Quality of Vocational Training in Aquaculture” | Ho Chi Minh, 14 June 2017
Mr. Joshua James, EuroCham Board Member, and Mr. Thierry Rocaboy, Chairman of EuroCham Food, Agri & Aqua Business Sector Committee (FAABS) attended the Kick-off Ceremony of the new programme "Improving the Quality of Vocational Training in Aquaculture:, co-organised by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry - Ho Chi Minh City Branch (VCCI HCM) - and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises (NHO) in Ho Chi Minh City. The event had the participation of Ms. Kari Wollebaek, Deputy Head of Mission of the Norwegian Embassy, as well as representatives from NHO, VCCI HCM, local authorities, schools, educational institutions, local and foreign business associations. 
The event marked the signing ceremony regarding the establishment of an Advosory Board between VCCI HCM and NHO, aiming at providig strategic imput for activities to foster vocational training in aquaculture. This initiative follows the successful cooperation in vocational training undertaken before between the two entities in automobile repair and hospitality. During the event, Mr. James had the opportunity to exchange greetings with Mr. Nguyen Quang Viet, Deputy Head of the Institute for Vocational Training under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs; while Mr. Rocaboy also greeted Ms. Vo Thi Thu Huong, Secretary of the Vietnam Pangasius Association. 
II. Meetings with Government and Other Stakeholders
1. APEC Ethics Initiative Roundtable | Hanoi, 23 May 2017
Representatives from APEC met with all EuroCham Healthcare Forum Sector Committees (Pharma Group, Medical Devices and Diagnostics and International Quality Generics), together with representatives from the Ministry of Health, the Vietnam Woman's Union, and other local relevant associations. This roundtable aimed to provide an introduction on Business Ethics for APEC SMEs Initiative, launched in 2010 as the world’s largest public-private partnership towards strengthening ethical business practices in several industrial sectors - including pharmaceuticals and medical devices. The meeting also served to prepare the stakeholders for the upcoming APEC Ethics Forum, to be held in November 2017 in Vietnam.
2. Meeting with National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIDAQ) under Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development | Hanoi, 26 May 2017
Mr. Ngo Hong Phong, Deputy Director General; together with Mr. Pham Hoang Duc, Deputy Head of the Division of Fisheries Products' Quality at NAFIQAD (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development); welcomed a EuroCham delegation composed of Vice Chairman Gellért Horváth and FAABS Sector Committee Chaiman Thierry Rocaboy. Both sides exchanged greetings and discussed how to better work together towards the improvement of food safety, laboratorial testing facilities and inspection work. Mr. Rocaboy urged for the establishment of regular dialogues between relevant authorities and FAABS. NAFIQAD also expressed willingness to join future projects on enhancing the quality of "food, agri & aqua" products, and also contributing to the cooperation that EuroCham has been engaging in with the Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality. 

EuroCham Vice Chairman Gellert Horvath and with NAFIDAQ Director Pham Hoang Duc and the Chairman of EuroCham's FAABS Sector Committee, Mr. Thierry Rocaboy

3. Meeting with Vietnam Social Security | Hanoi, 26 May 2017
Mr. Pham Luong Son, Deputy Director General; and representatives of Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Department welcomed a EuroCham delegation led by Vice Chairman Gellért Horváth and representatives from International Quality Generics Sector Committee. Both sides have exchanged greetings and EuroCham officially introduced the new International Quality Generics (IGQx) Sector Committee to Vietnam Social Security officials. IQGx also took the chance to raise three topics included in the Whitebook 2017 to Mr. Son, as well as discuss how to better work together towards improving the access of Vietnamese patients to quality, affordable, and sustainable drugs in the future.
EuroCham Vice Chairman Gellert Horvath with  Mr. Pham Luong Son, Deputy Director General and two other representatives from MOH

4. Meeting with Bac Lieu People’s Committee | Ho Chi Minh, 6 June 2017
A EuroCham delegation led by Chairman Jens Ruebbert, together with Business Associations and some of EuroCham's Sector Committees (FAABS, Tourism & Hospitality, Human Resources & Training) joined a meeting with a delegation of the People’s Committee of Bac Lieu Province, led by its Chairman, Mr. Duong Thanh Trung. The meeting was hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs for Provinces (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), with the background of attract FDI into Bac Lieu in key areas: fisheries development, especially shrimp production; renewable energy; education & training; health & media services; and tourism. This meeting also featured the official  invitation from the Bac Lieu Province PC  for EuroCham to be present at the Investment Conference in Bac Lieu, to take place in the near future. EuroCham will keep it Sector Committees and members updated in this regards.
Please refer to this link for further information on Bac Lieu investment opportunities. More details about the meeting can be found here.

EuroCham Delegation the Bac Lieu People's Committee Delegation
III. Sector Committee Updates 
[15 June 2017] TLSC Training Model Working Group’s activities
The EuroCham Transportation and Logistics Sector Committee, together with members of the Cooperative Training Model Working Group led by Mr. Jurgen Webber, have established the Vocational Board for Logistics. The Board will give development directions for a dual vocational training programme, implemented according to European standards in Vietnam. 

EuroCham members, in collaboration with the HCMC University of Transport and nine international leading logistics companies in Vietnam, will start a 3-year dual vocational training programme in freight forwarding: beginning in September 2017 for 15 apprentices per year. After finishing the programme, graduates will receive a certificate of completion and be qualified to work in this field iunder an international standard qualifications framework. 

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