Whitebook 2018 launched: Celebrating a Decade of EuroCham Advocacy with the EVFTA in Focus


Hanoi, 15 March - The European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) launched the 10th edition of its annual Whitebook. The publication was released at the Chamber’s annual flagship conference Whitebook Launch and EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement Outlook,  this year held under the theme “The EVFTA: Building on 30 years of FDI | 20 years of EuroCham | 10 years of Whitebook”. 2018 marks both EuroCham’s 20th anniversary and the 30th anniversary of the Law on Foreign Investment which enabled Vietnam to receive its first wave of foreign investments.
The 10th edition of the Whitebook is a collective expression of the views of EuroCham member companies operating in a wide range of industries. The publication echoes the European business community’s desire to support the Vietnamese Government to develop the current legal framework, contributing to a prosperous business environment in Vietnam for the benefit of all companies, investors and society. Beyond trade and investment issues and recommendations from the European business community to the Vietnamese Government, the Whitebook Launch and EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement Outlook 2018 conference was also dedicated to an in-depth discussion of the implementation of the EVFTA, expected to come into force this year. 

The half-day conference engaged key stakeholders and the media, featuring speeches by dignitaries including H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, H.E. Vice Minister Tran Quoc Khanh  and the EU. Ambassador do Vietnam H.E. Bruno Angelet. The conference's agenda also featured presentations and a stakeholder dialogue whereby trade experts and business representatives discussed the opportunities brought by the EVFTA (expected to be ratified this year). Representatives of the European business community presented trade and investment issues in dedicated session, to which the Vietnmese Government had the opportunity to respond. Several ministries were presented recognition awards for their continued engagement with EuroCham over the past decade.  

Against the backdrop of the EVFTA’s implementation, the conference gathered participants from a wide 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.

The Whitebook Launch and EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement Outlook 2018 conference was held jointly by EuroCham, the Delegation of the 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).

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue addressed the participants in an opening speech, underlining the significance attributed by the Vietnamese Government to the EVFTA. H.E. Bruno Angelet, EU Ambassador to Vietnam, highlighted in his keynote speech that the Agreement represents an important milestone in the bilateral commercial, economic and investment links between Vietnam and the European Union. Similarly, Mr. Hoang Quang Phong, Executive Vice Chairman of VCCI, emphasised the future impact of the EVFTA for both Vietnamese and foreign enterprises in his address, praising VCCI’s cooperation with EuroCham in raising awareness of the benefits of the Agreement.

Dividing EuroCham’s slot, Co-Chairmen Dr. Gellert Horvath and Mr. Nicolas Audier conveyed EuroCham’s overall position: the potential of the EVFTA and the strength of Europe-Vietnam business relations can only be fully unleashed if required changes to the Vietnamese legal framework are enacted in a timely manner. They also highlighted that these changes would benefit not only the country’s openness towards European business, but ultimately its integration both on a regional and global levels. 

The conference attracted more than 100 Government representatives from almost all of the 19 Ministries, as well as representatives of the National Assembly, Office of Government, Vietnam International Arbitration Office and delegates from Northern provinces representing Peoples’ Committees and Trade and Investment Promotion Agencies. 
Ambassadors and diplomatic corps from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK, and many other European Embassies also attended the conference. They were joined by other high representatives and diplomatic staff from a number of non-European missions to Vietnam, reflecting a widespread interest in the developments of the EVFTA. 
Chairs and representatives of EuroCham’s Sector Committees – key contributors to the Whitebook 2018 – together with delegates of different Ministries, presented their key issues and recommendations and engaged in a dialogue on five topics: Healthcare; Agriculture, Food and Nutrition; Consumer Choice; Sustainability and Efficiency; Legal, Tax and Customs. 
In his closing remarks, Co-Chairman Nicolas Audier stressed the importance of this annual event, as a milestone in reinforcing a continuous dialogue between EuroCham and Government authorities for many years, stressing the urgency of making the EVFTA a reality in practice.

500 copies of the 10th edition of the Whitebook will be provided to Ministries, Embassies and Consulates; Chambers of Commerce; national and international organisations; media and trade missions visiting Vietnam. On 21st of March, the Whitebook 2018 will be presented in Ho Chi Minh City. Over the next few months, EuroCham will also organise a series of meetings panel discussions in several provinces in Vietnam, focusing on selected topics and the implementation of the EVFTA. Like in previous editions, EuroCham will deliver the Whitebook 2018 to the European Commission and the European Parliament. 
The EuroCham Whitebook 2018 will be available for download at www.eurochamvn.org/whitebook2018. EuroCham members, selected organisations, and media can obtain a free hard copy on request at EuroCham offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

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