Deltas 2013 Vietnam: Unintended Consequences of River Management

Mekong Delta, Mississippi Delta

Experts from around the world are in Vietnam to address coastal land loss, particularly along the Mississippi and Mekong river systems.

Representatives from the America’s WETLAND Foundation, Vietnam National University and the Netherlands in Building Communique of Cooperation will gather beginning Sunday in Ho Chi Minh City for DELTAS2013VIETNAM, the second World Delta Dialogues involving global leaders since 2010.

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Manufacturers in China Survive by Moving to Asian Neighbors, including Vietnam

Idle equipment at Lever Style in Shenzen

As it shifts production to Vietnam, Lever Style says it is able to offer clients a discount of up to 10% per garment. That is attractive to U.S. retailers.

This shift is already well under way. Lever Style expects that a few years from now, 40% of the clothes it makes for Uniqlo, one of Lever Style’s biggest customers, will come from Vietnam and 60% from China.

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Vietnam’s economy remains weak; needs structural reform: IMF

IMF logo International Monetary Fund logoVietnam’s economy will continue to be as bleak in 2013, as in 2012 said Sanjay Kalra, resident representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Vietnam. Economic recovery greatly depends on economic restructuring, but the process is moving at a very slow pace. “I think it is a must to reduce bad debt in the banking system. Banks must accurately report on their bad debt,” he said. He complained there was not much information about SOEs. Up-to-date information about SOEs is a prerequisite for reliable assessment, he said. Learning by experience of the last two rounds of inflation, the Government should focus on stabilizing the macro-economy rather than rushing to do something, for example, stimulating economic growth, which is not a sustainable way, he said.

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Doing Business in Vietnam, 2006-2011 Archives

Below are links to informative articles about “Doing Business in Vietnam” provided by AmCham members or other reliable sources of information.

The information will be helpful during a company’s review of Vietnam as a site for sourcing operation or a factory, to provide goods or services, or otherwise as a site for doing business. The information is designed to be responsive to questions on a check list for a business development or a site-selection team. The information provided is, of course, only a summary; however, it provides a significant amount of substantial information on which a company can rely in understanding Vietnam’s business environment, including legal, financial, property, information and communications technology infrastructure, logistics and supply chain management, etc.

“Doing Business in Vietnam”—provided by AmCham Member Companies

Setting Up and Operating in VietnamRussin & Vecchi, May 2011, 85 pages plus appendices. pdf file The information in this booklet will be helpful during a company’s review of Vietnam as a site for a factory, to provide a service, or otherwise as an investment venue. The authors have emphasized material that would normally be on a site selection team’s check list. While the information is only a summary, it provides a significant amount of information on which a company can rely to understand Vietnam’s legal context.

Legal Framework for Franchising in VietnamRussin & Vecchi, April 2013, 11 pages. pdf file Franchising is well suited to Vietnam, where there is a strong culture of entrepreneurship. It is a good method for small and medium size entrepreneurs who want to start a new business in a short period of time to have a more limited risk, a modest amount of invested capital, and the promise of a stable income. Although most existing franchise operations in Vietnam are in the fast food and beverage business, franchising has potential to develop in other sectors. A strong surge of interest in franchised businesses is anticipated among local entrepreneurs. So too, interest from franchisors is expected to grow.

Ho Chi Minh City and the “Southern Key Economic Region”: Ports, Industrial Parks, and Other Infrastructure Overview of the region, with maps. Several downloadable powerpoint presentations on: the new deep water ports (Saigon New Port Company: Ports Overview, Mitsui OSK New Port Trend and Outlook, etc.); Industrial Parks in Vietnam and the Southern Key Economic Region; “Ho Chi Minh City & Surrounding Area Master Plan to 2020.” A good overall orientation with maps showing the development plans and actual trends for the Southern Key Economic Region.

Taxes in Vietnam: An Overview is a handy reference to tax rules of Vietnam. It aims to explain the overall tax framework clearly and concisely for practical use by businesses and individuals. Vietnam’s tax regime is contained in a myriad of laws, decrees, circulars and official guidance and there is often no simple way of identifying those that are applied in practice. Within one source for the first time in English, Taxes in Vietnam: An Overview reflects the most current information on tax compliance requirements based on the new laws effective from 1 January 2009. With its highly useful commentary on essential tax laws, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the complex business system at ease.

Employment Manual for Businesses in VietnamRussin & Vecchi and Navigos Group, June 2010, 65 pages. MS-Word .doc file. This Employment Manual is intended to be an easy desk-top reference for the Chief Representative, the General Director, the Human Resources Manager and any person who wants a good understanding of Vietnam’s labor laws. It is designed to orient management to issues with which it must be familiar. Even though the law on each subject has considerably more depth within the Labor Code and the many implementing and companion laws, decrees and circulars, this Manual should provide the reader with a good basic understanding. However, the Manual is a guide; it is not a substitute for a comprehensive understanding of the labor laws.

Telecommunications in VietnamRussin & Vecchi, April 2013 Vietnam entered into a Bilateral Trade Agreement (“BTA”) with the United States in December 2001, in which Vietnam agreed to a schedule for opening the telecommunications sector to U. S. entities. Vietnam became a member of the WTO on Jan 11, 2007. In its WTO commitments, Vietnam agreed to open telecommunications services to foreign investors under a given schedule. There was a need for a more comprehensive legal framework to manage a fully liberalized market. The first Ordinance on Post and Telecommunications was approved by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly on May 25, 2002, and became effective on Oct 1, 2002. The Ordinance was then replaced by the Law on Telecommunications which came into effect on Jul 1, 2010. It is the first time the regulations on telecommunications exist in a separate comprehensive law, which provides a legal framework for all telecommunications activities.

Vietnam Banking at-a-glance: Cash Management and Trade Services J.P. Morgan provides a snapshot of Vietnam’s cash management operating environment and its treasury services capabilities in the market. J.P. Morgan’s Treasury Services business is a full-service provider of innovative cash management, trade, liquidity, commercial card and escrow services, specifically developed to meet the challenges treasury professionals face today. More than 135,000 corporations, financial institutions, governments and municipalities in over 180 countries and territories entrust their business to J.P. Morgan. For more information, visit

Document Preservation in Vietnam, June 2013, Russin & Vecchi
To what extent does the law impose an obligation to retain documents beyond their current usefulness? Vietnamese law has fairly specific rules identifying documents that must be preserved and the periods for which they must be preserved. This article discusses the requirements to preserve accounting and business documents. We provide separate sections on the preservation of anti-money laundering documents, documents that relate to transfer pricing, and client and patient files.

Legal Framework for Franchising in Vietnam, November 2011Russin & Vecchi

Insurance Law & Regulation in Vietnam, April 2011Russin & Vecchi

House ownership and land use rights for overseas VietnameseRussin & Vecchi

Vietnam’s Stamp of Approval – June 2009Russin & Vecchi

Vietnam’s Food Law – Jan 2011Russin & Vecchi, updated Apr 2011.

Brief Guide to IP Law in VietnamRouse Legal, updated May 2012.

Doing Business in Vietnam: A Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Business, prepared by the U.S. Commercial Service in Vietnam

Vietnam: A guide for business and investment, prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers, (pdf 5.8 MB)

Investment Guide to Vietnam 2013, Rodl & Partner

Click here to view and download 071012 Information Packet on Economic & Political Environment, a zip file with articles by
BBC on VN Political environment.pdf
Asian Development Bank (ADB) on VN Key Indicators 6pp.pdf
AmCham Statement at the 30 May 2007 Vietnam Business Forum.pdf
World Bank (WB) VN Brief 8pp.pdf
Asian Development Bank (ADB) VN Brief 4pp.pdf

Reviews of Vietnam’s Investment Policy, Industrial Relations, Economic Development

Summary: World Bank Update on Vietnam’s Economic Development, Dec 6, 2011 Vietnam’s ambition to maintain high growth into the next decade will require as bold a set of reforms as the one adopted with Doi Moi.

World Bank Vietnam development report 2012 : market economy for a middle-income Vietnam, Dec 6, 2011 Factors that have contributed to Vietnam’s success and explores the emerging challenges: restructuring state-owned enterprises (SOEs), the public investment program and how to raise its effectiveness, transparency needed to support Vietnam’s middle income status, a critical issue that needs to be tackled if Vietnam is to achieve its socioeconomic aspirations.

Sustaining Vietnam’s Growth: The Productivity Challenge (McKinsey Global Institute) Feb 2012 Vietnam now needs to boost labor productivity growth by more than 50 percent to maintain its rapid growth. It can do so by (1) Stabilizing the macroeconomic environment; (2) Strengthening productivity and growth enablers to enhance competitiveness; (3) Shaping a coordinated, industry-specific government growth agenda by targeting investment; and (4) Improving government performance to deliver a growth agenda.

Vietnam Competitiveness Report, 2010 – Michael Porter, et. al. Nov 20, 2010 Vietnam’s growth since the mid-1980s has been driven by transition and structural change. Growth has been fueled by these macroeconomic, “systemic” changes. More recently, the policy response mainly focuses on intensifying investment, especially in SOEs and infrastructure, to generate growth rather than on upgrading productivity and efficiency. However, the economic logic behind this growth model ultimately has limited potential. The highest level of prosperity that Vietnam can reach given this approach is defined by the level of productivity unskilled workers can reach in manufacturing. If Vietnam is not able to move beyond this model, it will be stuck at lower middle income level, with poorer economies threatening its position.

Prime Minister’s Official Letter: Time to take stock of foreign direct investment, May 20, 2008 A situation analysis is critical for Vietnam to boost FDI. The analysis will be helpful in drawing conclusions on Vietnam’s comparative advantages and disadvantages, suitable FDI promotion strategies, especially with respect to the FDI leaving or expanding from China to the ASEAN region.

UNCTAD Investment Policy Review of Vietnam, Nov 2007 ~ Oct 2008
Key point: The proposed new policy would shift from promoting labor-intensive, export-oriented manufacturing FDI to promoting international investment in infrastructure (electric power, transportation & distributinon, telecoms, etc.) and in services, to provide higher value-added to Vietnam’s economy, including higher-income jobs for Vietnamese.

OECD Policy Framework for Investment (Executive Summary), Feb 14, 2008
Key point: The Policy Framework for Investment (PFI) is a tool, providing a checklist of important policy issues for consideration by any government interested in creating an environment that is attractive to all investors and in enhancing the development benefits of investment to society, especially the poor. Click the link to access the PFI Executive Summary, as well as an OECD-MPI PFI Assessment of Vietnam’s Investment Policies (62 pages, 14 Feb 2008) and Key Findings and a Roadmap for Future Reform (6 pages, 04 Mar 2008).

Revised Labour Code, 2009-2010, and National Conference on Industrial Relations, Apr 1-2, 2010
Key point: In response to widespread strikes with violence that occurred mostly in FDI factories in the Southern Key Economic Region in the spring of 2008, and the concerns expressed by FDI and Vietnamese business associations to the government, the Prime Minister’s Decision 1129/QD-TTg, 18 Aug 08: Action Plan for the Implementation of Directive No. 22-CT/CW of the Secretariat of the Central Committee established a framework for enhancing leadership, providing direction for the development of harmonious, stable and progressive labor relations within enterprises. The first priority was for the ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs to review and revise the Labour Code.

Revised Labour Code, 2009-2011: National Employers Conference, Oct 24, 2011 After three years of consultations about the Revised Labour Code with the “Tri-Partite Partnership” (MOLISA, VCCI, VGCL), speakers at the National Employers Conference summarized their recommendations to the National Labour Relations Committee.

Vietnam Provincial Competitiveness Index 2010

Mar 18Special Lunch: Vietnam Provincial Competitiveness Index 2010
.Presentation by Dr. Edmund Malesky on the FDI Survey (pdf, slides)
.Executive Summary (pdf – text)
.Chap 2. FDI Survey (pdf – text)
.Vietnam Provincial Competitiveness Index 2010 (full report, pdf, text)
.Welcome Remarks by AmCham Chairman

Using 2010 survey data from 7,300 businesses in Vietnam that describe firm perceptions of their local business environments and hard data, the 6th year iteration, the Vietnam Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) 2010 continues to assess and benchmark the performance and capacity of all 63 provincial and city governments within Vietnam to develop business-friendly regulatory environments for private sector development.

Of specific relevance to AmCham and policymakers this year is the PCI 2010 report’s special feature on the first time survey results from 1,155 foreign invested enterprises from 47 different countries located throughout Vietnam, including:

• Performance profiles;
• Drivers of firm investment location decisions;
• Perception and perspective of the Vietnamese business environment.

Equip yourself with the most up-to-date information on the current foreign investment profile and governance and competiveness of all 63 provinces in Vietnam.

Click here to view and download information and presentations at recent AmCham meetings and events, including
—comments by business association representatives at the Vietnam Business Forum, May 30, 2007
Powerpoint presentation on Asian Trends and Vietnam’s Consumer Future.

AmCham Member Companies Can Help You Set Up and Operate in Vietnam

AmCham member firms would be happy to respond to specific questions, and are prepared to bring the information contained in online pages and downloads to the next level of detail. Read this summary of Who You Need to Know in Ho Chi Minh City and How to Find Them, then click here for a list and links to AmCham member and associate companies and their contact information for the following key business sectors:

Accounting, Auditing, and Consulting

Banking, Finance, and Insurance

Information and Communications Technology

Legal Services

Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Real Estate

The Foreign Companies in Vietnam Yearbook

Foreign direct invested companies account for 42% of the industrial output and 59% of the exports of Vietnam.

The Foreign Companies in Vietnam Yearbook 2011 and CD-Rom 2011 is a researched company database of major international companies in Vietnam. A unique Vietnamese companies directory, the Foreign Companies in Vietnam Yearbook database provides hard-to-find information on this growing emerging market. The ‘Multinational Companies in Vietnam CD-ROM’ contains the latest available, individually researched data on 1930 senior executives at 720 leading African, American, Asian, European and Middle Eastern multinational companies and key local companies in Vietnam.

About the Multinational Companies in Vietnam CD-ROM It’s a powerful, cost-effective business development and research tool delivered by CD-ROM in an easy-to-use Windows format. It allows unlimited access to search, copy, print, export or save data selections of multinational companies in Vietnam and their key contacts. In response to demand from our customers, BMI has created newly enhanced search functionality in our 15th edition, allowing you to easily refine your campaign selections.

Key benefits for Sales, Marketing, HR, Finance and Research Teams Our Multinational Companies Directories are a must-have marketing tool for all executives conducting business in Vietnam, ideal for market assessment and planning, benchmarking, competitor tracking and securing new customers, partners or suppliers for sales and marketing.

Macroeconomic Trends and Analysis

Below are links to reports on Vietnam’s macroeconomic trends and analysis by international financial institutions (Asian Development Bank, World Bank, International Monetary Fund). Click the links to download the reports (in pdf files)

Asian Development Bank: Development Outlook, April 2008: Vietnam Section

Asian Development Bank: Development Outlook, April 2008: Full Report

World Bank: East Asia Update, April 2008: Vietnam Section

World Bank: East Asia Update, April 2008: Summary, Highlights, Links to Full Report

World Bank Report on Vietnam’s Macroeconomic Situation, June 5, 2008.

IMF Public Information Notice: Article IV Consultations with Vietnam, Dec 3-18, 2008

IMF Public Information Notice: Article IV Consultations with Vietnam, Nov 2007

IMF Country Report (No. 07-385): Selected Issues

IMF Country Report (No. 07-386): Statistical Appendix

IMF Country Report (No. 07-387): Staff Report, Supplement and Statement, etc.

Ho Chi Minh City and the “Southern Key Economic Region” (SKER)

Ho Chi Minh City and Southern Key Economic Region: Ports, Industrial Parks, and Other Infrastructure Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is Vietnam’s economic and business hub, the largest and fastest growing city, with more than two-thirds of international flight arrivals and departures, 80 percent of container shipments, 75 percent of consumption of steel products, and together with neighboring provinces in “Southern Key Economic Region,” account for nearly 40 percent of Vietnam’s Gross Domestic Product. In 2010 a more prosaic indicator was announced when a large beverage can manufacturer planned investments to expand production to 4.7 billion cans/year in Vietnam, of which 3.2 billion would be in the SKER and 1.5 billion in the Northern Key Economic Region. The city center is 60 km (37 miles) from the Eastern Sea, with a population of about 5.6 million, or 6.7 million including the suburban and rural areas. The “greater metropolitan area,” which consists of Hồ Chí Minh City metro area, Thủ Dầu Một, Di An, Bien Hoa and surrounding towns, is 9 million people. By 2020, the population of the “Greater HCM City Metropolitan Area”, also known as the “Southern Key Economic Region” is projected to reach 20 million.

Background Reading

Books that cover history, cultural and general socio-economic background. In addition, links to online handbooks/country studies with general statistical information (economics, trade, demographics) information, prepared by the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and the World Bank. Click this link.

TPP Update: After the 16th Round of Negotiations in Singapore, U.S. Congressional Research Service

TPP Countries

The 16th round of negotiations concluded in Singapore on March 14, 2013, and the 17th round is scheduled to be held in Lima, Peru in May 2013. The current goal is to reach an agreement in time for the October 2013 APEC summit in Indonesia. For this deadline to be achieved, outstanding negotiating positions may need to be tabled soon in order for political decisions to be made. The negotiating dynamic itself is complex: decisions on key market access issues such as dairy, sugar, and textiles and apparel may be dependent on the outcome of controversial rules negotiations such as intellectual property rights or state-owned enterprises.

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Asian Development Outlook 2013 – Vietnam Outlook

Asian Development Outlook 2013Vietnam’s economy stabilized in 2012 as previous policy tightening suppressed inflation and bolstered external accounts. Subdued economic growth prompted an easing of monetary policy last year, but lending was constrained by problems in the banks. GDP growth is forecast to edge up this year and next, with inflation in the high single digits. Sustaining foreign direct investment inflows and maintaining competitiveness requires intensified efforts to reform banking, state-owned enterprises, and the business environment.

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U.S. Policy Towards Burma: Congressional Research Service, Mar 12, 2013

Business and Investment Opportunities in the New MyanmarU.S. policy towards Burma has undergone a discernible shift in its approach since a quasi-civilian government was established in March 2011. While the overall objectives of U.S. policy towards the country remain in place—the establishment of civilian democratic government based on the rule of law and the protection of basic human rights—the Obama Administration has moved from a more reactive, “action-for-action” strategy and a skeptical and cautious attitude towards the newly created Union Government and Union Parliament to a more proactive mode. The new approach is designed to foster further reforms based on some form of partnership with the Union Government, headed by President Thein Sein. Read more

Draft decree on wages, revised Labour Code, Law No. 10/2102/QH 13, Jun 18, 2012

Vietnam's Private Sector Minimum Wage, 2008-2017e @ 130324 tableThis draft decree is not yet available as of Mar 24, 2013, however, there is some general background information.

At the Aug 23, 2012 dialogue meeting on the 2013 Minimum Wage adjustment between MOLISA and Vietnamese and Foreign Business Associations, arranged by VCCI, there was a discussion of the “Minimum Wage,” “Basic Needs Wage,” and the to-be-established “National Wages Council.” Read more

TPP: The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Asia-Pacific Integration: A Quantitative Assessment

Peter A. Petri, Brandeis Univeresity“Vietnam would be the largest beneficiary on the TPP track. Participation would increase Vietnam’s GDP by 13.6% compared with the “baseline scenario.” Five factors explain this result: strong trade with the United States; high protection abroad against apparel and footwear, which are Vietnam’s principal exports; strong competitive positions in these and othe manufacturing industries where China’s comparative advantage is fading; high initial domestic protection; and powerful scale effects in Vietnam’s principal production clusters. The first three factors boost Vietnamese exports and terms of trade under the TPP. The last two amplify these benefits by stimulating productivity gains. Higher incomes in turn enable Vietnam to invest more and grow more rapidly. Of course, Vietnam would face significant challenges in implementing an agreement that requires stringent disciplines in areas such as labor and government procurement. It also faces tough challenges in maintaining a macroeconomic environment that permits adjustment and encourages long-term investments. But overall, Vietnam’s participation in the agreement is well founded.” Pages 81-82

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TPP Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations: Issues for the U.S. Congress

U.S. Goods and services balances with TPP Countries, 2001 - 2011Summary

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. . Services are an important component of U.S. international trade, as indicated by the chart on the left. Read more