On Sunday 26 September, EuroCham Executive Committee Member Soren Pedersen attended a high-level conference with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and both domestic and foreign business associations under the Vietnam Business Forum (VBF). Held in Hanoi, the event brought together government and private enterprise to discuss how best to support business operations during the on-going outbreak of COVID-19.
Speaking on behalf of business communities, and taking on board EuroCham’s input, the VBF Chairman Tetsu Funayama made four recommendations to the government.
First, Vietnam should roll out vaccinations as fast as possible in order to restore supply chains. In this spirit, the government should move on from place-based isolation and instead set up vaccination points across the country so that workers – particularly those in priority sectors – who returned home during the fourth wave outbreak can quickly be vaccinated. Meanwhile, VBF recommended that the ‘three-on-site’ model should only be used in high-risk areas with staff allowed to travel to and from work.
Second, the government was urged to remove travel restrictions between provinces and prioritize the vaccination of essential workers to ensure the free flow of goods. Third, business leaders stressed the importance of centralized vaccination tracking which would allow those with a ‘green certificate’ to enter Vietnam without facility-based quarantine.
Last, but not least, the Prime Minister was asked to implement a comprehensive financial development strategy including digitalization of tax and customs procedures, tax exemptions, and low-interest loans to support enterprises. In short, both domestic and foreign business communities stressed the need to live with the virus, rather than pursue a ‘zero-COVID’ approach.
Speaking for VCCI, Mr Pham Tan Cong said that business supported the Prime Minister’s view that we need to live with the virus for the long-term. Vietnamese businesses were struggling and, therefore, instead of focusing just on prevention we need to develop simultaneous solutions – such as vaccination – to enable the safe re-opening of commercial operations. He said that seafood processing and export, tourism, and transportation enterprises were some of the hardest-hit, though all sectors and industries have been affected. Mr Cong proposed an increase in support for businesses to support them through this fourth wave.
The Prime Minister thanked business leaders for their input and urged them to continue working with the government during these challenging times.