On the 23rd of July, the Private Economic Development Research Board (Board IV) under the Advisory Council on Administrative Procedure Reform of the Prime Minister (ACAPR) and the newly-established Vietnam Aluminum Bar Association co-organised a conference on the EU–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). Attending this conference, EuroCham Vice Chairman Nguyen Hai Minh delivered a speech and participated in the panel discussion about the opportunities and challenges for businesses in Vietnam and how Vietnamese businesses should equip themselves for this new period.
The conference also welcomed the participation of economic expert Bui Kim Thuy, Dr. Vo Tri Thanh, Director of the Institute for Brand and Competitiveness Strategy, Mr. Nguyen Duc Tung, Head of the Office of the Private Economic Development Research Board, and Mr. Florian Beranek, Lead Expert on Societal Responsibility of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.
Economic expert Bui Kim Thuy highlighted the origin-related regulations, one of the keys for domestic firms to make full use of the advantages arising from not only the EVFTA, but also other FTAs that Vietnam has signed. Agreeing with this opinion, Dr. Vo Tri Thanh added that Vietnamese enterprises should attach greater importance to overcoming non-economic barriers as stipulated in the EVFTA, while elaborating that they must meet not only quality standards, but also criteria set on environmental impacts and labour.
Representing EuroCham, Vice-Chairman Nguyen Hai Minh emphasised that the demand from the EU for imported aluminum is high and Vietnamese enterprises have not yet exploited fully the potential of this market. Currently, exports to the EU only account for 5% of Vietnam’s total exported aluminum. With the EVFTA, the tariffs for various products, including aluminum, will decrease enormously immediately or over time with certain roadmaps. It is a big opportunity for Vietnam in general, and the aluminum industry in particular, to target the broad market of the EU. However, he also agreed with the opinions of other experts, that Vietnamese enterprises have much to do to utilise all the benefits from the FTA. He expressed the same concern about the rules of origin, urging appropriate actions not only from domestic enterprises, but also from the Government, to prevent fraud as well as to protect the local production and consumers.
Mr. Nguyen Duc Tung mentioned that the pace of the country’s international economic integration has been faster than that of institutions and policies. He emphasised that working sessions should be held in order to have an in-depth understanding of the operations and obstacles of local firms. Board IV, based on the outcomes of such sessions, could submit relevant reports to the higher level, i.e., Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, for pushing the reform of the policies to support domestic enterprises.