September 08, 2016

EuroCham Global Leaders Dialogue on Brexit brought Lord Peter Mandelson to Vietnam

On 8th September 2016, in Ho Chi Minh City, the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) – in collaboration with the British Business Group Vietnam (BBGV) – hosted the Global Leaders Dialogue The Global Implications of Brexit. A landmark event on the topic in Vietnam, this event gathered Lord Peter Mandelson – former UK Government First Secretary, European Commissioner and currently Chairman of the consultancy Global Counsel – and top business managers for a discussion on the overall impact of a potential UK withdrawal from the European Union, related expectations from the markets, and possible consequences for Vietnam.  

Lord Peter Mandelson is a leading global voice on political and economic affairs, with an extensive and comprehensive career in British politics, having been a former European Trade Commissioner between 2004 and 2008. He talked about the road to the results in the Brexit referendum in June 2016, the political dynamics that took place in Europe since then, and how he felt that a EU of peace and prosperity was taken for granted in the UK. Lord Mandelson also focused on what Brexit means for business in Asia, remaining confident that he does not see London’s central role in European financial markets being replaced by any other European city in the short-term, despite the shift that might happen if the UK does leave the EU.

Having a unique political and governmental background pooling British internal affairs, European policy-making, and a deep knowledge of the Southeast Asian region. Lord Mandelson said that he was also convinced that the EU brought prosperity to the UK and peace to the continent, and although integration reluctance was an historic trend among British leaders, “for Britain, we have to decide how out we want to be of Europe’s Single Market, which has made  our ‘internal’ trade grow dramatically over decades. There is no doubt where our economic interests lie: as near to the current status quo as possible. But that comes with costs and conditions – the very costs and conditions Britain voted against in the referendum – free movement of people, acceptance of EU regulation and paying in to the EU budget.”

At this event, Lord Mandelson interacted with several Vietnam-based business representatives. Among them, Mr. Tom Vaizey, Legal Counsel of Dragon Capital, an experienced legal professional with a vast business background in Asia, spoke about how the UK can remain in the game, despite Brexit. Mr. Vaizey also discussed possible alternatives to minimize the impact of this development on business and in the finance industry.

The closing panel discussion gathered several top managers, moderated by legal expert Dr. Milton Lawson, with the participation of Mr. Horst Geicke (Deutsches Haus Ho Chi Minh City Chairman and Co-Investor), consultancy leader Mr. Warrick Cleine, and education expert Mr. Henry Fenton. Representing a wide range of Europe and UK-related business based in Vietnam, this panel discussion was an opportunity to hear from the industry what is expected from Brexit. It was consensual that, although it was a scenario few businesses expected, there are approaches to manage the change and that the future is still open to all possibilities. Mr. Ken Atkinson, Chairman of BBGV, closed the session stressing exactly this fact: that the UK is still a EU member-state and although it is good to reflect on the future as of now, it is not here just yet.

This event was well received by the more than 60 participants attending, who were able to see the Brexit question from a unique perspective of business, investment and trade. It was also an opportunity to hear about key ideas firsthand from lead speaker Lord Mandelson This topic is particularly important for Vietnam, as the UK represents around 10% of the total trade volume of the country with the EU, a share valued at $5.4bn in 2015. Also in 2015, UK direct investments in Vietnam hit the $1.2bn mark, and the country received an official visit of former Prime-Minister David Cameron.
Although the consequences of a potential British withdrawal from the EU are not yet known, this EuroCham Global Leaders Dialogue The Global Implications of Brexit – a Talk with Lord Peter Mandelson was a unique opportunity to understand what may happen in the future, hearing it directly from one the world’s most reputable voices on the matter, and from Vietnam-based business leaders with a deep knowledge of the UK, the EU, and Vietnam.

Click to view more Photos
 
QUOTES:
 
LORD PETER MANDELSON, Global Counsel, Chairman
On Brexit:
“The EU is unlikely to tolerate London to continue as the centre of euro-denominated capital markets business. Many banks are already taking pre-emptive moves and looking to move affected parts of their businesses to within the Eurozone. Just how much of these businesses need to be moved will depend on the eventual nature of the EU-UK deal.”
 
On the ASEAN Economic Community:
“Making a success of the AEC will require individual member states to make concessions and to trust that there is more to be gained from integration than isolation. Political leaders will need to do a better job of articulating the benefits of openness and collaboration rather than fanning the fires of nationalism. ASEAN needs to learn from Europe’s present stumbling – as do individual countries in Asia which have gone a long time without properly testing and incorporating public opinion to government. 
We cannot expect people to live with rapid economic change without the resources and skills and tools to adapt to it. We can’t expect people to live with the consequences of widening inequality. We can’t expect people to live with a world in which companies use the global economy to choose where and how much tax they pay. We have to explain why openness to a global economy is generally better than the alternative. That’s as true here in Vietnam as in Britain. Learn from our experience – and our mistakes – and prioritise social cohesion and justice alongside economic progress and trade growth. That’s the only true way to national development”
 

MICHAEL BEHRENS, EuroCham, Chairman
“Today was an important moment for EuroCham’s program this year, and also an opportunity to better visualize how a future without the UK in the European Union could be. I believe we had probably the best person in the world to tell us about it, a politician who has been long and deep in the British political scene, in addition to being a leading opinion-maker and a former EU Commissioner. Hosting this event also gave EuroCham as a whole a great opportunity to understand what the businesses here in Vietnam are most concerned about in regards to the UK’s Withdrawal from the EU.
EuroCham has 45 British members and they are as important for us as the remaining 850. Whether Brexit becomes effective or not, a Europe-wide scope is the background of our longstanding cooperation with British companies and stakeholders, which will remain unchanged. Today was an important occasion to hear what everyone expects from Brexit and I feel EuroCham came out of this one step closer to being prepared for whatever the future may bring.”
 

NICOLA CONNOLY, EuroCham, Vice Chairwoman
“Today’s Dialogue on the “Global Implications of Brexit” is an actual result of EuroCham’s work, where we created an occasion to hear, this time directly, from one the world’s top experts, Lord Peter Mandelson – who has a vast career in British and European politics and Government – on the new political and economic context that the UK, the EU, and its citizens will face in the years to come.” 

Media Coverage:

​http://tuoitre.vn/tin/kinh-te/20160909/anh-nghi-den-fta-voi-vn-sau-brexit/1168344.html

http://ndh.vn/anh-nghi-den-fta-voi-vn-sau-brexit-20160910103545933p145c151.news

http://vtv.vn/video/tai-chinh-kinh-doanh-sang-14-9-2016-172498.htm

 

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