Administrative reforms would help unlock EVFTA's potential: EuroCham
Administrative procedure reform is the key to unlocking the full potential of the Europe-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), said participants at a conference on Tuesday.
The European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) and the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform held the conference in Ha Noi to discuss administrative reform ahead of the implementation of the EVFTA.
The dialogue, themed 'Administrative Reform: A Key Role in EVFTA Implementation', gathered business leaders, Government officials and members of the diplomatic corps to discuss how administrative reform can help to unlock the full potential of the EVFTA, which is set to enter into force on August 1.
The event also featured the launch of EuroCham’s 12th Whitebook publication. The Whitebook is EuroCham’s annual report, where the chamber’s 17 Sector Committees raise issues most important to their business operations and highlight actions the Government could take to improve the business environment and increase trade and investment with the EU.
“With the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement entering into force in August, it is essential that business and Government work together to ensure its smooth and successful implementation,” said EuroCham Chairman Nicolas Audier.
“One of the most critical factors will be accelerating Viet Nam’s positive progress in administrative reform, streamlining business conditions, strengthening the business environment, and modernising the legal framework.
“That is why EuroCham publishes the Whitebook, now in its 12th edition. Our members share the goal of the Government to attract more foreign direct investment.
“In this time of COVID-19, with economies around the world struggling with the impact of the pandemic, Viet Nam now has a once-in-a-generation chance to capitalise on the EVFTA and attract more FDI from European enterprises looking for an open, competitive, and business-friendly market.
"If the Government takes on board the recommendations in our Whitebook, I am confident that we will see even more European companies investing in Viet Nam in the future,” said Audier.
“This is the third time that the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform has held a dialogue with the European business community. The dialogue has become an annual activity of the Council and EuroCham in Viet Nam recently,” said Mai Tien Dung, Minister and Chairman of the Government Office.
Dung welcomed EuroCham's efforts in the publication of the 2020 Whitebook.
“With solid foundation after 30 years of diplomatic relations, the soon implementation of the EVFTA will create stable and long-term frameworks to maximise co-operation potential, creating a new impetus to strongly promote and deepen economic-trade-investment relations between Viet Nam and the EU.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected all socio-economic aspects. However, Viet Nam has basically contained the disease, maintained the macroeconomy, resumed business activities and brought life to a 'new normal' state, determined to realise its dual goal, which is combating the pandemic and at the same time revitalising the economy,” Dung said.
“Although the economic growth forecast for Viet Nam this year is only from 2.7-4.9 per cent, international organisations still highly value Viet Nam’s efforts in achieving positive growth and minimising the impacts of the pandemic.
“The Prime Minister has directed the implementation of solutions to remove difficulties for production and business, ensure food security, promote disbursement of public investment and ensure social security as well as boost administrative procedure reform.
“From the beginning of its tenure in 2016, the Government has reduced and simplified 3,893 out of 6,191 business conditions, cut 6,776 out of 9,926 categories of goods and products subject to specialised inspections and 30 out of 120 administrative procedures for specialised inspection. The total social saving was estimated at 18 million working days per year, equivalent to more than VND6.3 trillion per year (US$270 million).
“A portal called 'The National Public Service Portal' has been in operation for nearly six months with 725 online public services launched, up by 90 times compared to its inception and three times against three months ago,” Dung said.
Dung proposed European enterprises frankly share the difficulties they are facing and encouraged them to deliver recommendations for regulatory, policy, and administrative procedure reforms.
At the conference, participants discussed a wide range of issues including the EVFTA, access to innovative pharmaceuticals and a predictable and consistent legal environment for investment, medical device machine installation in hospitals, goods labelling requirements, food safety inspection registration certificates, and tax tariffs applied to functional foods; E-Commerce, certificate of Free Sale, the registration process for anti-bacteria products and the management of e-commerce platforms.