On the 22nd of December in Hanoi, the Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) 2020 themed "Challenges and Opportunities in the New Normal" kicked off with proposals being put forward regarding various solutions and initiatives for local businesses to recover and develop faster in the period following the (COVID-19) pandemic.
In his opening speech, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H.E. Pham Binh Minh highlighted the position and importance of the annual VBF as an ongoing policy dialogue between the Government and the domestic and foreign business communities. It shows Vietnam’s commitment to improving the legal system and offering favourable business conditions to facilitate the development of private enterprises and contribute to the country’s sustainable economic growth.
With great determination, the Vietnamese Government has stepped up greater efforts to maintain its economic achievements and fulfil this year’s dual goals of bringing the coronavirus under control and sustaining positive GDP growth, which is projected by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reach 2.4%, he said.
The Government has been consistent in undertaking measures to maintain political and economic stability, further enhancing the business environment, attracting investment, and making the most of free trade agreements (FTAs) Vietnam has signed. It has, at the same time, accelerated trade promotions to bring Vietnamese products closer to the world.
Meanwhile, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung emphasized that 2020 marks the final year in the socio-economic development plan for the 2016 to 2020 period, with the country overcoming plenty of challenges to obtain major achievements across multiple fields and achieving a high growth rate of 6.8% per year.
Minister Dung explained that the nation’s six fundamental achievements over the past year include success in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, stable macroeconomic growth, whilst inflation has been curbed at a low level. Furthermore, the infrastructure system has been improved with major large-scale projects being completed during the 2016 to 2019 period, while economic restructuring has been implemented along with a shift of the growth model.
Moreover, the country has made radical administrative reforms, with the domestic business environment being greatly improved alongside strengthened external affairs activities and international integration.
In his speech on behalf of EuroCham, Vice Chairman Tomaso Andreatta highlighted that in 2020 many good things were already achieved by the Government: it managed to maintain stability and growth; kept Covid-19 out until now; signed, ratified, and now implemented the EVFTA with its promising growth rate and export potential. Meanwhile, a lot of work remains to be done on simplifying administrative procedures, such as reducing the excluded sectors for FDI and theoretically opening up State Enterprises to sell more than 49%. Vietnam has also raised awareness of the country to green growth, plastics recycling and to the need to improve waste management.
The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement will remain the top priority for EuroCham. Taking full advantage of this agreement will be key to the success of Vietnamese companies in the future. However, a lot of work remains to be done, particularly on topics such as facilitating pharmaceutical companies’ operations and supply of medicines to Vietnam, the duration of work permit in human resources and training, mobility, energy, and PPP for infrastructure.
For instance, until now, due to difficulties with the existing public-private partnerships (PPP) regime, investors - particularly foreign private investors - have simply either relied on constituting an investment project under the Law on Investment or implemented build–transfer projects. Although PPP legislation constitutes an important development, the existing legal regulations fail to resolve some serious issues. EuroCham, therefore, sees the need to develop a pipeline of visible projects, improve capacity and coordination among relevant government agencies, and prepare the practical implementation of a comprehensive regulatory framework for PPP projects in Vietnam.
Dr. Vu Tien Loc, Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said that the business community expects that the Government will take a range of concrete measures aimed at immediately removing bottlenecks faced by businesses. This will be done in order to maximise opportunities from various free trade agreement (FTAs), specifically the EU-Vietnam FTA (EVFTA), as a means of recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The annual forum was organised by the VBF Consortium in cooperation with the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the World Bank Group (WB), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), bringing together key decision-making Government officials, business leaders, and representatives from international organisations and business associations, including the European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham), the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), the Korea Chamber of Business (KoCham), and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) in Vietnam.