On 4th December, EuroCham attended the annual Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) organised by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the World Bank and IFC at the Lotte Hotel in Hanoi. The theme of the VBF was: “Sharing Opportunities in the World of Changing Trade”. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attended and chaired the conference.
The Prime Minister raised current global challenges, including rising protectionism, trade wars, and the risks of falling support for free trade agreements. However, he described how, with the enthuasiasm for and benefits of free trade, Vietnam will seek opportunities for cooperation riding on the flows on peace, cooperation and globalisation.
Vietnam continued its impressive development rate in 2018, estimated at 7 per cent, which is much higher than other countries in the region and the highest in the last decade since the world economic crisis in 2008. In order to take advantage of the cooperation and development opportunities, Vietnam needs the efforts of all Vietnamese enterprises, cooperation and sharing opportunities of FDI and the facilitation and partnership of the Government.
The Government will focus on three issues: maintaining social and political stability and macroeconomic fundamentals; accelerating the improvement of the business environment and enhancing national competitiveness; and prioritising investment in science and technology to improve R&D, invest in infrastructure – in particular, smart and digital infrastructure – and to take advantage of the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, coupled with strong investment in education and human resources.
EuroCham, as the Co-Chair of VBF in 2018 with VCCI, helped to organise and coordinate the conference. The Chamber’s Vice-Chairman, Tomaso Andreatta, and VCCI Chairman Dr. Vu Tien Loc led the presentations of 6 participating VBF Chambers.
EuroCham Co-Chairs, Nicolas Audier and Denis Brunetti, led the EuroCham delegation. Mr. Audier highlighted how EuroCham’s role as the bridge between Europe and Vietnam is now more important than ever, as we enter the final phase of the ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). He also updated the VBF about the Chamber’s activities in Brussels to advocate for the quick ratification of the EVFTA. Mr. Audier outlined that ratification of the EVFTA is not a foregone conclusion: Challenges remain, and the upcoming vote in the European Parliament will be crucial. The EVFTA’s merits as a free trade agreement are undisputed – but its broader social impacts also need to be considered. Issues like labour, social and human rights are high on the agenda of the European Parliament, and EuroCham will continue to highlight the Government’s progressive reforms in order to prove Vietnam’s readiness to implement the EVFTA.
The insights and recommendations of our 16 Sector Committees will help Vietnam unlock the full potential of the EVFTA. However, the market-access issues raised to VBF and the Government still need to be resolved. These include issues in the Pharmaceutical sector, Medical Devices & Diagnostics, Mobility and Wines & Spirits as well as matters related to Human Resource & Training, ICT and the implementation of the Law on Cyber-Security. The full EuroCham Position Paper can be found HERE
Mr. Brunetti highlighted EuroCham’s commitment to the Government’s strategic agenda on embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, enabled by 4G, 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) network infrastructure, knowing that Vietnam seeks to accelerate the digital transformation of all industries, including Manufacturing, Agriculture, Healthcare, Education, Finance & Banking and Energy.
EuroCham wants to support the Government and its enterprises to create an innovation ecosystem under the ‘National Innovation Network Program’ launched by the Prime Minister in Hanoi. European companies are keen to contribute our innovation & high-tech expertise to this pivotal, strategic program. It promises to deliver Vietnam its next wave of high-tech FDI and socio-economic growth. The Chamber recognises the pivotal role of ICT and high-tech innovation in driving Vietnam’s phenomenal socio-economic development over the past 25 years since the inception of mobile communications.
The EVFTA will provide the legal and policy framework and IPR incentives. It will encourage European companies to expand their operations in Vietnam by investing in high-tech R&D initiatives centered around 5G and IoT innovations that will provide the foundation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Vietnam’s accelerated adoption of this, facilitated by nationwide 4G & 5G IoT enabling platforms, coupled with continued institutional reforms, increased focus on education and training in data science and suitable levels of technology transfer, will ensure that all industries become more efficient, productive and cost efficient, securing Vietnam’s global competitiveness and the prosperity of its people.
The VBF will continue to be an important and effective policy dialogue channel between the Government and foreign enterprises: linking the ideas, proposals and recommendations of business with the policy strategy of the Government. Meanwhile, the Government will support all businesses to develop. It is committeed to creating an open, fair and low-cost business environment, facilitating greater trade in import-export activities, reforming management, as well as the modernisation of administrative procedures. Following the opening session, VBF conducted sessions discussing subjects including paying for infrastructure, bringing in relevant knowledge for modern industry, overcoming obstacles to business and other reports of VBF Working Groups.