Foreign investors declared their continued support for and confidence in the Vietnamese market at the 2014 mid-term Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) in Hanoi on June 5.

Regarding social disturbances across some localities in early May - which caused damage to businesses, including foreign ones - Virginia Foote, co-chair of the forum, praised the Vietnamese Government’s timely response and expressed her belief that Vietnam will address the consequences of the incident in a transparent, reasonable and professional manner.

Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh stressed that Vietnam ’s competent agencies will do all they can to prevent such an incident from reoccurring.
“The country will work tirelessly to improve its business and investment environment and raise its competitiveness in order to make it more attractive to investors,” he promised.

It will also create increasingly favourable conditions for businesses in order to maintain its image as a safe and friendly destination for foreign investment, he said.

President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc, who also served as VBF co-chair, said that Vietnam is facing obstacles in retaining its stable trade relations with China .

“ Vietnam should reduce its great dependence on this neighbouring market by diversifying its partner markets and taking advantage of opportunities from free trade agreements,” he said.

According to Yoshihisa Maruta, President of the Japan Business Association in Vietnam, a recent survey shows that the Japanese businesses in Vietnam now number 1,320, and 70 percent of them said they will continue to consider the country as an important market and think about expanding their operations here.

Although the enterprises highly value businesses opportunities in Vietnam , they said that improving the environment for businesses remains an urgent need for the country to boost its socio-economic development, he added.

Vietnam should show investors around the globe that its government is making every effort to stabilise the businesses environment for them, said Kim Jung-in, Chairman of the Korean Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (KorCham).

He suggested the Vietnamese Government offer loans with low interest rates to businesses and grant tax exemptions to those damaged by recent disturbances.

Meanwhile, Tomaso Andreatta, Vice Chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham), stated that Vietnam’s economy can only develop in a sustainable manner if the country creates an equal playground for enterprises and protects intellectual property rights, while eliminating corruption and ineffective investment.

According to the VCCI President, Vietnam is going to finalise many important free trade agreements (FTAs), including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, now in its final negotiating stages, and the Europe-Vietnam FTA.

Therefore, the Vietnamese Government and businesses should stay well prepared to deal with both opportunities and challenges from these agreements, he said.

The TPP is expected to bring a good development direction to the Vietnamese economy, as it will help increase the country’s GDP by 28.4 percent and its exports by 35.7 percent by 2025, said Marc Townsend, Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham).

He added that TPP and other trade agreements will offer Vietnam many new opportunities as they support the removal of trade barriers in some areas and the development of new standards in ensuring workers’ rights and intellectual property rights and protecting the environment.

To prepare, Vietnam’s business environment must be transparent and interactions between the State apparatus and socio-political organisations must be enhanced, he said, adding that dialogue between people and businesses should be expanded in various forms.

After the FTA between Vietnam and the EU is signed, the former’s GDP may increase by over 15 percent and its exports up nearly 35 percent, said the EuroCham representative.

However, these potential benefits may be reduced if Vietnam does not commit to fully implementing international trade terms, he warned.-VNA