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Chairman's Insights

Vietnam Business Forum - Strengthening the Private Sector

This week I attended the annual meeting of the Vietnam Business Forum, which is a World Bank/IFC facilitated meeting between Government and the Private Sector. I presented a paper on behalf of members of the British Business Group where I raised five issues, namely Tax filings and inspections; Education and catering to the needs of business; the need for IT resources; Infrastructure and pollution; and the need for further visa facilitation.

The Prime Minister His Excellency Nguyen Xuan Phuc, was in attendance for most of the meeting and Minister Nguyen Chi Dung was in attendance throughout as were several other ministers and vice ministers. In his closing remarks the Prime Minister stressed the Government would promote favorable conditions for the Private Sector to be the driving force for growth in the economy from now to 2020, when they want to see 1 million private enterprises. The Government recognizes that the Private Sector as an integral part of the country’s development and integration into the global supply chain.

2016, saw the establishment of over 100,000 new private enterprises in addition to the existing 500,000.  In addition there were 3.5 million household enterprises and 21,000 Foreign Invested Enterprises.

Some of the impacts which the Prime Minster stressed were Infrastructure and the need for PPP; development of renewable energy; and Climate change and the need for environmental protection.

One new message, which was reinforced several times, was the desire of the Government to see the promotion of mutual benefit through a closer cooperation between the Foreign Invested Sector and the Vietnamese Private Sector. PM Phuc expressed his appreciation for the significant contribution of the FDI sector and he promised his Government would further facilitate FDI but at the same time the Government wants to see more action to support private domestic enterprises.

PM Phuc also stressed that he hoped foreign investors would trust the Government’s commitment to further reforms and in particular in the areas of transparency, governance and the environment. He also singled out the issue of Transfer Pricing by foreign invested companies and the fact that the Government would continue to clamp down on this as well as on environmental failures.

Overall this was a productive meeting with the Government responding to and acknowledging many of the issues raised by the Private Sector, including the need for: better education and training, IT resources, trade facilitation, visa exemptions, reforms to tax and customs procedures, clean energy and renewables, and the need for further development of the Capital Markets.

Ken Atkinson