On August 8, EuroCham joined a high-level conference with Prime Minister of Vietnam Pham Minh Chinh and both foreign and domestic business associations to discuss support for enterprises during the COVID-19 pandemic. The online meeting also included other senior Government Ministers including Deputy Prime Ministers Le Van Thanh and Le Minh Khai, alongside Minister, Chairman of the Office of the Government Tran Van Son, Ministers from all Government departments, and representatives of local authorities.
The Prime Minister emphasized that Vietnam continues to strive to prevent the spread of the virus. However, production should continue whenever it is safe to do so. He asked the Ministry of Planning & Investment (MPI) to collect and consolidate the suggestions from business communities and submit them to the Government in order to promulgate a Resolution on support for enterprises in the near future.
MPI then painted a stark picture of the impact of the pandemic on local business, with an almost 30 per cent increase in the number of companies awaiting dissolution. Meanwhile, according to the GDT, business debt has increased over a fifth since the end of 2020. Minister Dung then announced that the Prime Minister will soon set up a special working group in order to tackle the challenges that COVID-19 has created for enterprises.
Executive Committee Member Jean-Michel Caldagues represented EuroCham, and shared the concerns and recommendations of our members with the conference. He raised three main points: First, that EuroCham has used all the tools at its disposal to help the government procure vaccines. Mr Caldagues stressed that Vietnam needs to roll out a mass vaccination program at scale and pace as soon as possible. Second, he mentioned that EuroCham has met with MPI, MOH, MOIT and other ministries to raise some of the issues our members have faced during this fourth wave of the pandemic. In particular, European companies are having a lot of difficulties in terms of goods’ circulation, transportation, and logistics. Lockdowns and travel restrictions are causing disruption to manufacturing and supply chains, and a clear transportation policy – including a green pass for the manufacturing sector – is needed to provide clarity and keep essential goods moving.
Mr Caldagues also urged the government to introduce a fast-track approval process for foreign investors and experts, as well as a simplification of the bureaucratic procedures required for foreign workers to get work permits. He welcomed the recent reduction in quarantine for vaccinated foreign arrivals, while also requesting clarification on whether this also includes the families of international experts. Mr Caldagues concluded that, after 12 months of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement entering into force, significant achievements have been seen in exports. He encouraged the government to build on this success and ease restrictions on European investors and business leaders coming to Vietnam to boost trade and investment with the EU as we rebound and recover from the pandemic.