June 24, 2021

EuroCham Joins High-level Meeting with MOH to Discuss Vaccinations and Quarantine

On 22 June, EuroCham led a delegation of other foreign chambers of commerce (AmCham, BritCham, AusCham, CanCham, and US-ABC) in a high-level meeting with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to discuss the current wave of COVID-19 and to share the recommendations of international business. The meeting was chaired by Vice-Minister Prof. Dr. Tran Van Thuan and also included representatives from other MOH departments.
 
Opening the meeting, Vice-Minister Thuan welcomed the foreign business leaders. He thanked them for helping to develop Vietnam’s health sector and for supporting the country’s efforts to fight COVID-19. He emphasized that the government is targeting the dual goals of fighting the pandemic and pursuing economic growth and that Vietnam is now preparing for the country’s biggest-ever vaccination program.
  
    
Representing EuroCham were Chairman Alain Cany, Vice-Chairs Torben Minko, Nguyen Hai Minh, and Gabor Fluit and board member Jean Michel Caldagues. Mr Cany thanked the Vice-Minister for organizing the meeting, and praised the government for its strong efforts in containing the pandemic. Mr Cany then outlined EuroCham’s five priorities: Securing an adequate supply of vaccines; expanding and refining the prioritization categories in Resolution 21; the funding of vaccinations; how EuroCham can support the government; and the current quarantine regulations. He emphasized that the business operations of EuroCham members have been affected during this latest outbreak and this could have significant implications for Vietnam’s economic growth. On the supply of vaccines, Mr Cany said that EuroCham is encouraging our governments to donate more vaccines to Vietnam, and the recent announcement at the G7 was a positive sign.
 
On behalf of AmCham, Executive Director Mary Tarnowka spoke about the prioritization of vaccine distribution. She said that AmCham supports Vietnam’s efforts to establish priority categories aligned with WHO guidelines. The chamber also welcomes efforts to refine this prioritization list under Resolution 21, in particular the decision to include workers in industrial parks. Referring to the chambers´ accord, she requested that workers in polyclinics, pharmacies, and medical device distributors be considered ‘front-line healthcare workers’, and that port workers also be prioritized for vaccination. She further asked that retail workers be considered as part of the discussions to broaden the groups of people prioritized for vaccination. Ms Tarnowka shared her gratitude that both domestic and foreign citizens would be given equitable access to vaccination within these prioritized categories.
  
  
Mr Cany added that many European companies were willing to pay for doses for their workers and their families. He stressed, however, that full transparency on Vietnam’s vaccination fund is important. Companies have made a lot of donations during the fight against COVID-19 and will continue to do so in the future. However, it is important for us to understand how the government’s fund will work in practice.
 
Mr Cany then proposed two structures for Vietnam’s vaccination fund: One would be for charitable donations, while the second would be to directly fund vaccinations for foreign companies and their families. Foreign businesses would like to contribute. However, many are not allowed to give directly to government schemes and must go through NGOs. Therefore, this ‘twin’ structure would help to increase donations from international enterprise. Turning to the vaccine roll out, Mr Cany offered the support of EuroCham members and their expertise. He also encouraged MOH to involve private enterprise at an early stage to ensure that Vietnam’s mass vaccination program is a success.
 
Regarding the quarantine procedures, Mr Cany requested that Vietnam consider reducing the length of quarantine to a week or less for people who have received vaccinations in their home countries. This would also help to reduce the burden on Vietnam since it would enable foreign experts and investors to return home for vaccination rather than receiving it here.
  
    
Closing the meeting, Vice-Minister Thuan thanked the foreign business associations for their support and encouraged them to continue this assistance so that Vietnam can get sufficient access to vaccinations. He agreed that Vietnam needs to “vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate”.
 

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