A worker mans a beverage production line at a factory in southern Binh Duong province (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – A considerable number of Vietnamese businesses haven’t been ready for economic integration into ASEAN, as illustrated through a lack of awareness and thorough preparation, though the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is to be formed at the year’s end.

Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) Nguyen Dinh Cung pointed out the fact at a forum held by CIEM and the Graduate School of Public Policy under Japan’s University of Tokyo in Hanoi on November 13.

Sharing the same view, economist Pham Chi Lan said as up to 70 percent of domestic enterprises are small- and medium-sized firms and do not engage in import-export activities, they haven’t felt pressure to integrate.

On the other hand, the existence of an array of business obstacles has also steered those companies’ focus to their short-term survival and away from future competition, she added.

Nguyen Hong Son, Rector of the University of Economics and Businesses under the Hanoi-based Vietnam National University, said although the country has implemented integration-related commitments well, it hasn’t made full use of opportunities. For example, it has utilised only 30 percent of incentives in ASEAN.

Despite recent substantial improvements, the local business environment is still less competitive than that of other ASEAN countries, he noted.

Professor Toshiro Nishizawa from the University of Tokyo said Vietnam holds enormous potential for development and is coming to an important turning point. The AEC could be the main driving force for it to switch to a new growth model.

However, the country is encountering challenges such as difficulties facing small- and medium-sized enterprises, and a limited ability to integrate into financial and labour markets, he stressed, adding that it takes about 10 years or more to address those problems.

Participants at the forum agreed that Vietnam’s integration into ASEAN will create more opportunities for the nation to develop and promote its capacity in all aspects. Therefore, it should play a more active role by bettering the local business climate, competitiveness and scientific-technological levels, utilising the international community’s support, and setting up cooperation and partnerships.-VNA