March 21, 2019

EuroCham Whitebook Briefing 2019 – Ho Chi Minh City as Bridge to Europe

On the 20th of March 2019, the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) introduced the 11th edition of its annual Whitebook at a briefing event entitled: “The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement: Ho Chi Minh City as the bridge to Europe”.

The half-day conference, held at the GEM Centre in HCMC, attracted 137 representatives from Ho Chi Minh City leaders, Departments and agencies; European diplomatic missions, Business Associations, EuroCham Sector Committees and members, partners and media agencies. The event featured speeches by Vice-Chairman of HCMC People's Committee Mr. Le Thanh Liem and Co-Chairman of EuroCham Mr. Nicolas Audier, along with presentations from 8 EuroCham Sector Committees addressing trade and investment issues and recommendations on three topics: Healthcare, Consumer’s Choice, and Sustainability and Efficiency.

In his opening speech, Mr. Nicolas Audier shared that European businesses have enhanced investments in Vietnam thanks to reforms made by the Vietnamese Government which have transformed the country into a more open and competitive business environment for international trade and investment. Mr. Audier pledged that relations between HCMC and the EU would be further strengthened in the near future, especially in developing smart-city initiatives and implementing public-private partnership projects.

On behalf of HCMC leaders, Standing Vice-Chairman of the HCMC People's Committee, Mr. Le Thanh Liem, expressed great appreciation to EuroCham for its efforts in promoting investment and trade in Vietnam, and especially in HCMC. He also affirmed the city’s willingness to facilitate European investment, particularly in light of the expected ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). HCMC currently receives around US$44 billion of foreign investment, a great amount of which comes from the EU, noted the Standing Vice-Chairman.

Following detailed, sector-specific presentations from EuroCham Sector Committees, representatives from EuroCham, city departments, including Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the EVBN participated in a stimulating panel discussion which provided opportunities for HCMC officials and European business leaders to discuss investment policies of the city and outlook of the EVFTA in order to utilise opportunities and address challenges once the deal is ratified.

Deputy Head of the Investment Division, HCMC Department of Planning and Investment, Ms. Mai Trinh, shared that the city currently has about 1,100 active projects invested by European companies, with a total investment capital of USD3.86 billion. The city has chosen 2019 to be the year of administrative reforms and further implementation of Resolution 54; therefore, it welcomes further investments from the EU in order to develop a smart and innovative city.

From the perspective of the Department of Customs, Director Dinh Ngoc Thang praised the Whitebook 2019 for facilitating frequent and constructive meetings and dialogues between the Department and foreign businesses to ease difficulties in administrative procedures for companies. Underlining the importance of creating a favourable customs condition for businesses, Mr. Thang stated that the Department was actively working with relevant authorities to come up with proper solutions for the issues raised in the Whitebook 2019, especially those relating to customs clearance.

Regarding opportunities and challenges of the upcoming EVFTA, Deputy Director of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce in Ho Chi Minh City, Mr. Tran Ngoc Liem, expected stronger trade between the two sides when the trade deal comes into effect, notably for Vietnamese goods and businesses to the EU. An active EVFTA would accelerate improvements in the investment environment from both sides, however, provisions on export goods, especially those on Rules of Origin and technical standards, would be significant challenges for Vietnam. 

Speaking next, Mr. Andreas Abbing, Vice President – Commercial Plant Manager of HCMC Plant, Bosch Vietnam, appreciated the policies and administrative reforms of the city in human resources training. Taking the upcoming EVFTA into consideration, Mr. Abbing disclosed that Bosch would further enhance investment in Vietnam, adding that the export of goods produced by Bosch Vietnam to other markets, including the EU, would be granted much more incentives. Ms. Mayte Pernas, Project Director of EVBN, said that the EVFTA would open new opportunities for both sides, meanwhile the EVBN would continue promoting business connectivity, supporting cooperation and trade through various business missions from the EU to Vietnam, events and exhibitions such as the upcoming Eurosphere in June 2019 and the Whitebook Briefing 2019 was a great example of successful cooperation between Eurocham, EVBN and other key partners.

In general, panel discussion experts expect the EVFTA will be implemented in a very short time after ratification. Therefore, the business community needs to get prepared in order to unlock the most benefits from the trade deal. The business community should enhance awareness and knowledge of global markets, and overcome technical obstacles in order to win over customers in new countries. Meanwhile, EuroCham will continue working closely with the Vietnamese Government, and especially Ho Chi Minh City, its departments and relevant agencies, through policy dialogues, meetings and other upcoming projects in order to enhance trade and investment opportunities, improve the business environment, and provide favourable investment conditions for the business community.

Mr. Le Thanh Liem, HCMC PC Acting Vice-Chairman Speech: Link Here
Mr. Nicolas Audier, EuroCham Co-Chairman Speech: Link Here
Whitebook Conference Presentation: Link Here
Panel Discussion Script: Link Here
Whitebook Download: ENG | VIE
Whitebook Launch Photo Album: Link Here

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