The economic playing field in which Vietnam is a thrust will drastically change upon the realisation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and regional integration by 2015, commented radio The Voice of Vietnam (VOV).

According to the radio, the trade pacts with the EU and US, which are in the offing, will further complicate the economic landscape as Vietnam scrambles to fulfil its commitments by opening markets, scrapping many import tariffs, opening services, and reducing technical trade barriers.

Experts caution that although these milestones bring with them bright prospects for much greater economic prosperity in the long-term, the transition is not going to be a bed of roses, and there are many challenges that lie ahead in the short term.

Businesses need to be circumspect about their approach to and each of them must be well prepared for the opportunities and challenges, they say.

Economic expert Pham Chi Lan is wary of the economic and business capacity of the Vietnamese business community, saying it is not strong enough to quickly weather the storm.

Around 98 percent of Vietnamese businesses are small and medium sized and are always short of capital. They are easily affected by outside factors. Furthermore, a lack of coordination makes it difficult for them to align themselves and form strong business blocs.

If Vietnamese businesses do not reorient their business plans and find a niche in a production chain, it will be virtually impossible for them to survive in the new competitive market place in the long-term, Lan was quoted as saying.

Local businesses are going to bear the brunt of fierce competition, requiring them to make a greater effort to improve themselves. The best laid business plans and strategies of the past will not suffice in the new economic environment.

Vo Tri Thanh, another prominent economist is also concerned about whether the requisite institutional reforms will be sufficiently in place to effectively cope with the competitive onslaught on the horizon.

Thanh suggests a stronger institutional reform, saying there is a dire need for a carefully though-out and coordinated effort from the Government and businesses to put the reform plan in place.

Compared to other markets in new market space, Vietnam is much weaker in terms of qualifications, development and economic capacity, and will simply be overwhelmed when besieged with foreign competition.

In the new economic playing field brought about by global integration, many countries have made thorough preparations and if Vietnam does not follow their lead, the nation quite simply will never catch up with them, Thanh warns.

Tran Ba Duong, CEO of Truong Hai Automobile Company, says businesses should seize the opportunities and carefully craft a long-term strategy and start preparing immediately.

Duong says he has been working for the past 12 years and expended much effort to accomplish his goals and achieve success. Success is highly dependent on prudence and carefully laying out business plans, in addition to effort.

The new economic playing field is not for laggards, advises Truong Gia Binh, Chairman of FPT Board of Directors. Businesses should strive their utmost to grasp the opportunities and transform them into reality.

Concrete plans and foresight are the order of the day, Binh says, adding businesses need to devise detailed action plans and be vigilant in their implementation. Plans should encompass both the short and long-terms, he says.

Although businesses have paid great attention to major agreements, such as Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Vietnam-EU FTA, they have little to vague knowledge of regional agreements.

Beginning in 2015 ASEAN markets will open comprehensively. The competitive risks are imminent, however, many businesses are lackadaisical and ignore or act as they still do not care about it.

This is a very dangerous attitude as it guarantees these businesses will most certainly fail on their home turf when it comes to competing directly with more experienced counterparts from other regional nations.

In addition to the individual effort expended by businesses, success or failure is also highly dependent on Governmental policy and guidelines, Johnathan Hanh Nguyen, President of the Imex Pan-Pacific Group (IPP), was cited as saying.

The Government has listened to the business community’s collective voice, so many issues have been dealt with effectively.

Businesses should get more actively involved in making policy in cohesion with the Government in order to ensure those policies are in alignment with reality, says Tran Ba Duong.

Vo Tri Thanh says a strategic vision by the Government toward reforming institutions is obligatory to the creation of a healthy competitive environment and level global economic playing field for businesses.-VNA