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Vietnam Business Forum 2018 kicks off in Hanoi

Released at: 15:19, 05/12/2018

Vietnam Business Forum 2018 kicks off in Hanoi

Photo: VNA

PM addresses annual business forum at opening on December 4.

by Long Van

The Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) 2018, with the theme “Sharing opportunities in the world of changing trade”, kicked off in Hanoi on December 4, with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, ministers, and leaders of businesses, both local and international, in attendance.

The VBF serves as a dialogue mechanism between the Vietnamese Government and the domestic and foreign business communities, with the aim of improving business conditions to foster the development of private enterprises and provide the optimal investment environment for Vietnam’s sustainable economic growth.

In a report, the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) quoted Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung as affirming in his opening remarks that despite the impacts on the national economy of the rapidly changing regional and global situations, the government has taken drastic measures to implement targets such as stabilizing the macroeconomy, stepping up administrative reform, and improving the business and investment environment.

These efforts have worked, with the macroeconomy stabilized, inflation curbed to below 4 per cent, and this year’s economic growth likely to surpass the set goal of 6.7 per cent, Minister Dung said.

New enterprises have numbered around 130,000 in 2018, social investment is estimated at VND1,890 trillion ($81.27 billion), FDI disbursement has hit $18 billion, and total export turnover is approximated at $240 billion, he added.

The minister attributed the achievements to contributions by the business community and both domestic and foreign investors.

However, he pointed to several challenges still facing the country, including inflationary pressure, growth quality, labor productivity and competitiveness, climate change, and the middle-income trap.

He therefore called on the business community to expand their engagement in the making of socioeconomic development policies and in business and investment activities.

Addressing the event, Prime Minister Phuc highlighted the forum as an important dialogue channel between the government and the business community.

He noted the constructive opinions of enterprises and appreciated their enthusiasm and aspiration to make more contributions to the country’s development.

He believes that businesses can find a lot of cooperation opportunities despite the strong impacts from global trade issues.

He underlined Vietnam’s significant economic accomplishments over the past time, noting that national economic growth is projected at 7 per cent in 2018; the highest level for the past decade and much higher than that of other countries in the region.

Along with the achievements, Vietnam has become a “big workshop” of the world and a “fulcrum” for many transnational corporations providing competitive products and services in the region and the globe, VNA quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

The presence of leading groups in Vietnam such as Samsung, Intel, Canon, Fujitsu, Toyota, Honda, Nike, and VinaCapital, as well as thousands of FDI enterprises, is a guarantee of the quality of the investment environment and growth prospects of Vietnam, he said.

The strong growth of private economic groups indicates that the business climate could give birth to large internationally-competitive enterprises, the Prime Minister added.

Vietnam now has more than 20 export items earning over $1 billion annually, he said, adding that agricultural products such as rice, pepper, coffee, and basa fish are leading the global market. Fruit like dragon fruit, mango, longan, lychee, rambutan, and grapefruit are exported to choosy markets such as the US, Europe, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.

He emphasized the country’s consistency in trade liberalization and economic integration, with the signing of and negotiations over 16 free trade agreements (FTA) that enable Vietnam’s access to more than 60 economies, including 15 countries in the G20, and offer opportunities to engage more deeply in global value chains and production networks.

He suggested businesses promote their strengths to increase their competitiveness instead of depending on government support.

He called on international groups and foreign enterprises to adopt more open supply policies as well as create more opportunities for Vietnamese businesses to join deeply in global value chains.

The government is determined to maintain socio-political stability and macroeconomic foundations, he said.

“The government is committed to stepping up structural reform and improving institutional quality and State governance at both central and local levels in addition to reforming State businesses and the financial system, handling bad debts, and bettering public debt management ... It will work harder to unlock bottlenecks for faster and more sustainable growth,” Prime Minister Phuc said.

He added that the government will speed up efforts to improve the business environment and increase national competitiveness.

VNA also quoted Mr. Tomaso Andreatta, Co-Chairman of the VBF Consortium, as hailing the positive changes the Vietnamese Government has made to create a stable business environment and encourage startups, citing the promulgation of Resolution No. 19 on improving the business environment and national competitiveness and Resolution No. 35 on supporting and developing businesses by 2020.

He said the business community has acknowledged and appreciated the efforts of ministries, sectors, and localities in reducing business and investment conditions, reforming specialized inspections, and simplifying administrative procedures.

In the context of rapidly changing trade, US-China trade tensions may bring about benefits for Vietnamese enterprises, he said, advising Vietnam to seek ways to take advantage of this opportunity to maintain its economic growth.

Sharing the same view, Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) in Hanoi, Mr. Michael Kelly, cited statistics from a recent survey on US enterprises in China as saying that one-third of respondents moved or are considering moving their production factories to other countries, the VNA reported.

Meanwhile, he went on, half of foreign enterprises from other countries are considering plans to move out of China and Southeast Asia is considered their best choice. This is a big opportunity for Vietnam.

However, it is not all good to draw a lot of investment capital into the country if foreign-invested enterprises, which account for over 70 per cent of Vietnam’s export value, leave the country, he noted.

That is why businesses need to see continuous and visible progress in issues discussed during this VBF session, he said, proposing ineffective administrative procedures be controlled and the legal framework and taxation be stabilized and predictable.

Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Vu Tien Loc, who is also Co-Chairman of the VBF Consortium, stressed the need for Vietnam to step up IT application in all fields, saying that the country climbed 81 places in ease of paying taxes in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report, thanks to the sector’s expanded IT application, according to VNA.

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