ADVOCACY UPDATE (11 July 2019 – 15 Aug 2019)

I. EVENTS

1. EuroCham held a dialogue with Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee | 11 July 2019 | Ho Chi Minh City

On the 11th of July, a EuroCham delegation led by Chairman Nicolas Audier held a fruitful dialogue with the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee. Chairing the session, HCMC Vice-Chairman Tran Vinh Tuyen and city departments welcomed EuroCham and briefed the Chamber on the specific strengths and challenges of Ho Chi Minh City. Mr. Tran Vinh Tuyen directed the departments to conduct research and provide an EVFTA implementation plan. Specifically, this includes a review of policies and regulations to ensure they are in line with EVFTA commitments, facilitate administrative reforms, and focus on human resources to meet the demand for international integration.


Chairman Nicolas Audier affirmed that the currently signed EVFTA will open a new window of trade and investment opportunities, leading the way for a new wave of EU investment to Vietnam. The Chamber’s Chairman expressed EuroCham’s full commitment and enthusiasm to contribute and further work for the upcoming ratification and implementation of the agreement.

Taking this opportunity of the bilateral dialogue, representatives from EuroCham Sector Committees such as Food and Agri-Aqua, Green Growth, Transport and Logistics, Wines and Spirits, etc. also raised their ideas and recommendations for the implementation of the city’s Resolution 54 and policies on tax and customs regimes. Sector Committees received feedback from Vice-Chairman Tran Vinh Tuyen and relevant departments, as well as an invitation to join the city’s initiatives and projects such as implementing an “Innovative City” pilot.
More details: click here 

2. EuroCham spoke at VCCI Seminar “Identifying the Opportunities of Trade and Investment in the context of the EVFTA” | 10 July 2019 | Hanoi

On the 10th of July, EuroCham Vice-Chairman Nguyen Hai Minh attended and delivered a speech at a seminar on: “Identifying the Opportunities of Trade and Investment in the Context of the EVFTA”. The Seminar also welcomed the participation of Mr. Ngo Chung Khanh, Deputy Director of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department, Ministry of Industry and Trade, as well as Ms. Magdalena Ciesielska, Deputy Head of Trade and Economic Affairs at the EU Delegation to Vietnam and Dr. Vu Tien Loc, Chairman of VCCI.


In his speech, Mr. Nguyen Hai Minh highlighted that the EVFTA will not only help Vietnamese companies export their products with international standards, but also bring a huge opportunity for Vietnamese companies to plug themselves into the value chains organised by the EU companies. However, at this stage, Vietnamese enterprises are still limited in technology, capital, human resources, and corporate governance. This prevents them from connecting to such supply chains as well as from meeting high standards of the EU related to hygiene, safety, and working conditions. In the upcoming time, domestic businesses will see increased pressure not only from the EU, but also from third countries to utilise the benefit of the FTA.

Mr. Nguyen Hai Minh also reiterated the commitment of EuroCham in accompanying Vietnam to prepare the ground for smooth and effective implementation of the EVFTA.
More details: click here 

3. EuroCham spoke at Conference “The EVFTA – Opportunities and Challenges for Businesses in the Aluminium Industry in Vietnam” | 23 July 2019 | Hanoi

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 Aluminium Bar Association co-organised a conference on the 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. He emphasised that the demand from the EU for imported aluminium is high. The EVFTA is a big opportunity for Vietnam in general, and the aluminium industry in particular, to target the broad market of the EU. However, Vietnamese enterprises have much to do to utilise all the benefits from the FTA. He expressed the concern over 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.
More details: click here 

4. “EU–Vietnam Trade Forum: EVFTA - New Horizon for Extensive and Comprehensive Cooperation” | 30 July 2019 | Hanoi

On the 30th of July, following a joint action plan to promote the recently signed EVFTA and EVIPA, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) and the EU Delegation to Vietnam, in collaboration with EuroCham, organised the very first Vietnam–EU Trade Forum with the theme: “The EVFTA: New Horizon for Extensive and Comprehensive Cooperation” in Ho Chi Minh City. The conference was attended by 400 participants, including the EuroCham Board and 160 of the chamber’s members.


In the plenary session, EuroCham’s Vice-Chairman Jean-Jacques Bouflet delivered a presentation entitled “The Free Trade Agreement: Business Perspectives on Exports and Bilateral Cooperation Opportunities”. Mr. Bouflet emphasised that, with the trend of European enterprises working with local partners for manufacturing in Vietnam, there would be a wide range of opportunities for Vietnamese enterprises to upgrade their capability in terms of technology, governance, and standards. EuroCham member Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions also delivered a presentation on innovative business thinking on the breakthrough opportunities that the EVFTA provides.

In the next session, EuroCham Vice-Chairman Nguyen Hai Minh and Mr. Vincent Gothknecht, representative of EuroCham’s member company Schroeder KG Vietnam joined 2 parallel panel discussions, moderated by Ministry of Industry and Trade's Department of European–American Markets, to share their opinions about the opportunities for export of agriculture products, as well as sectors of textiles, garments, footwear, bags, purses, suitcases and hats.
More details: click here 

5. EVFTA Seminar in Ba Ria–Vung Tau province | 2 August 2019 | Hanoi

On the 2nd of August in Vung Tau, EuroCham and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ba Ria–Vung Tau People’s Committee co-organised a roundtable seminar on the EVFTA as a golden opportunity to tap into the province’s potential and calling for investment. At the event, H.E. Mr. Bui Thanh Son, Permanent Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, emphasised the importance of the EVFTA and EVIPA signed on the 30th of June in Hanoi which unlocked future trade and investment and assuring Vietnam’s internal integration.


Ba Ria-Vung Tau Party Secretary Nguyen Hong Linh and Peoples Committee Vice-Chairman Nguyen Van Tuan expressed their strong commitment, openness and readiness to welcome all European investors coming to Ba Ria-Vung Tau as well as creating favourable conditions to enhance investments in the fields such as petrochemicals, port and maritime logistics, tourism, agriculture, and training.

EuroCham Vice-Chairman Mr. Jean-Jacques Bouflet affirmed that EuroCham and its members continue to stand together with the Vietnamese Government and local authorities, including Ba Ria-Vung Tau to facilitate the quick and smooth ratification of the EVFTA both in Europe and Vietnam. If Vietnam continues with its current positive efforts, it will be able to unlock the benefits of the EVFTA and take advantage of the new wave of EU FDIs in relevant sectors for the benefit of businesses, consumers and, above all, Vietnamese citizens.

EuroCham representatives from Business Associations including GBA and CCIPV Sector Committees, and South Chapter Delegates then participated in the dialogue session where they proposed recommendations across sectors and received feedback from provincial authorities on various topics, including tourism, seaport system, logistic centers, food processing, real estate and Ba Ria–Vung Tau urban development, vocational training, etc. The seminar was followed by a business networking lunch with leaders and Departments of Ba Ria-Vung Tau province.
More details: click here 

6. VCCI’s Seminar “Assessing the Opportunities of Trade and Investment in the Context of Early Signing EVFTA” | 14 August 2019 | Ho Chi Minh City

On the 14th of August in HCMC, VCCI organised a seminar themed “Assessing the Opportunities of Trade and Investment in the Context of Early Signing EVFTA” which attracted over 150 participants. EuroCham supported in coordination, and Vice-Chairman Mr. Jean-Jacques Bouflet delivered a keynote speech and participated in the panel discussion.


In his keynote speech, Mr. Jean-Jacques Bouflet underlined that EuroCham had been a strong supporter of the EVFTA since negotiations first began in 2012 until their conclusion in December 2015. EuroCham and its advocacy team have always been at the forefront to provide support and expertise. He also noted the key benefits and challenges the EVFTA is expected to bring, especially in terms of tariff reduction and removal for major sectors of fisheries and agricultural products; pharmaceuticals; green growth; and tourism. On investments, the EVFTA and EVIPA will further change the investment environment in Vietnam in the upcoming years. With EU strengths in machinery, engineering, mobility, pharmaceuticals, processing, etc. and the investment protection under the EVIPA, EU companies will further invest in these fields. In order to further attract EU FDIs, Vietnam still needs to enhance its technology, business management, efficient production chain, open its public tender & services market (finance and banking, logistics, business management, production operation), thus, improving its competitiveness and branding.

The EuroCham Vice-Chairman underlined the chamber’s strong commitment to supporting the process of EVFTA ratification through members and Sector Committees to facilitate cooperation between European and Vietnamese partners. In line with the MOU signed between EuroCham with VCCI, EuroCham is ready to further create opportunities for trade & investment facilitation and business-Government match-making. The EuroCham Vice-Chairman underlined the importance of engaging both the business community and private sector in preparation for the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the EVFTA. The effective use of business insights and expertise are considered by the Government as a key driving force for facilitating trade and investment. Mr. Bouflet also participated in the panel discussion with other speakers and provided recommendations for Vietnamese and European businesses to establish sustainable partnerships and effective trade with the EU market. The joint initiative of VCCI and EuroCham to establish an EU-Vietnam Business Council and the organisation of the EU-Vietnam Business Summit have been also brought up for the two chambers’ future cooperation and implementation.

7. MOFA investment promotion in Vinh Long province 2019: “Together for a Sustainable Development” | 15 August 2019 | Vinh Long province

On the 15th of August, an investment promotion conference was held in Vinh Long province by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the Vinh Long provincial People’s Committee. This is a significant economic event for Vinh Long province with the participation of leaders from ministries and agencies, economic groups and enterprises who are planning to invest or do business in the region.


Representing EuroCham at the event, Mr. Henrique Romão from the Portugese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam, delivered a speech on the EVFTA – the historic agreement which is the result of continued efforts between Vietnam and the European Union as well as a watershed moment for European investors in Vietnam. 
Under the EVFTA, the most visible benefits for Vietnamese companies will be tariff reduction and elimination for specific products. For example, coffee, fresh fruit and vegetables will be liberalised upon Entry Into Force (EIF). Seafood products will have a 50% reduction upon EIF and the rest will be liberalised over 3-7 years. (For canned tuna and fish ball products, the 0% tariff quotas to be applied will be 11,500 tons and 500 tons, respectively). All fruit and fresh vegetable products will also enjoy 0% duty tariffs from the date of entry into force.
 
Once ratified and implemented, the EVFTA will trigger a gradual reduction of 99% of tariffs across a range of products, eliminate technical barriers to trade and protect investment. The EVFTA will also help to boost further the import of high quality products such as machinery and agriculture & fishery. It will also increase EU services including enhancing product quality and visibility, packaging and labelling, branding, products processing chain, business management services, transport & logistics etc. The EVFTA will bring more than trade - it will also accelerate Vietnam’s growth and development. It will help to modernise Vietnam’s legal framework, strengthen the trade and investment environment, improve safety and quality standards, and increase EU technology transfer. In doing so, it will enhance Vietnamese companies’ competitiveness in order to join global value chain.
 
EuroCham also underlines the importance of te EU’s technical norms and requirements for Sanitary and Phytosanitary standards, environmental protection and active engagement in the fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated ("IUU") fishing and fishing-related activities with comprehensive, effective and transparent measures to combat IUU.

In this spirit, EuroCham is ready to work together with the Government, MOFA and all provinces, including Vinh Long, to facilitate the quick and smooth ratification of the EVFTA both in the EU and Vietnam and enhancing EU investments in the province. Beyond the ratification and entry into force, both the Vietnamese side and the European business community in Vietnam need to anticipate the implementation of EVFTA in order to be able to reap fully its benefits. 

II. SECTOR COMMITTEE UPDATES

1. Legal Sector Committee (Legal SC)

24 July | VIR article “Heartier European appetite for M&A deal-making via new free trade agreement”

Mr. Stefano Pellegrino and Mr. Kent Wong from Legal Sector Committee talked to the Vietnam Investment Review about how improvements in the legal framework motivate the trend amidst the upcoming enforcement of the landmark EVFTA.
The Legal SC’s input covered movements in M&A activities among EuroCham’s members in Vietnam in recent years, interested sectors for M&A deals among EuroCham members, M&A trend among EuroCham members in the coming time, as well as potentials of the M&A market in Vietnam when EVFTA was signed on 30 June 2019 and is expected to be ratified and come into effect soon.
Full article: click here

6 August | Legal SC attended and participated in Vietnam M&A Forum 2019

On the 6th of August, Dr. Stefano Pellegrino, General Secretary of EuroCham and member of EuroCham Legal Sector Committee joined as panellist of the Session: Dialogue on M&A-related policies and regulations at the Vietnam M&A Forum 2019. “European investors are traditionally considered financially capable, socially and environmentally responsible, and with deep technological know-how. These are their strengths in the Vietnamese M&A Market”, said Dr. Pellegrino.
Legal SC Vice-Chairman Kent Wong also attended the forum themed “Going for Breakthrough”, which attracted over 500 experts and business executives.


More details: click here 

2. Information and Communication Technology Sector Committee (ICT SC)

1 August | First newsletter of 2019 issued

The digital society will not happen in the future, it is happening now. Digital transformation is not about technology - it is about strategy and new ways of thinking. It affects worldwide all sectors of commercial business as well as public administration and public services. Speed and agility are essential in a digital world.
With the support and IT competences of our members in Vietnam and other national and international associations, ICT SC wants to be the outstanding IT voice representing EuroCham members to the Vietnamese Government and its regional administrations. Topics ICT SC is working on include: cybersecurity, industry 4.0, IT education, and e-signature. 
We welcome companies to join us and make ICT SC an expert forum to deliver the best possible solutions to the digital challenges of industry and public administration in Vietnam. Should you want to discuss your IT-related issues with ICT SC, please contact ICT SC at ICTsectorcommittee@eurochamvn.org .
Full newsletter: click here

3. Human Resources and Training Sector Committee (HR&T SC)

6 August | HR&T SC Co-chairwoman spoke at Policy Dialogue on child labour prevention

On the 6th of August, HR&T SC Chairwoman Ms. Sarah Galeski attended and delivered a speech at the Policy Dialogue on child labour prevention, organised by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.
In her keynote speech, Ms. Galeski underlined that Vietnam is committed to combatting child labour, and its legislation strongly supports this. While Vietnam has already ratified the ILO conventions concerning child labour, its accession to the EVFTA will strengthen its commitment to protect children and prevent abuse. EuroCham and its HR&T SC anticipate seeing further legal measures and mechanisms to provide protection to children in Vietnam.
The EuroCham representative pledged that under the EVFTA, Vietnam and the EU will work together to organise workshops, seminars, training sessions and dialogues to share knowledge and experience, studies and technical assistance and capacity building. She affirmed EuroCham and its HR&T SC’s readiness to work with MOLISA, the ILO, relevant stakeholders and advisory group experts to further contribute our expertise to ensure Vietnam’s policies and laws on the elimination of child labour are effectively implemented.

7 August | Position letter sent to MOF on human-resource policies

On the 7th of August, HR&T SC sent a letter to the Ministry of Finance and the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour to provide comments and recommendations on some human-resource policies. Aiming at providing a comprehensive and realistic picture of the application of human-resource policies to ensure the connectivity, fairness and consistency among legal documents, the HR&T SC stands ready to further work closer with the Vietnamese authorities to exchange the recommendations. 
 

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