Vietnamese enterprises have done well to improve productivity and sales in the face of several challenges last year, but they need to temper optimism for 2014 with awareness of risks that lie ahead, a new report says.

The Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)'s Report on Corporate Finance Competence says local firms need to prepare well for coping with hidden risks associated with the expected economic revival even as they look to take advantage of new investment and trade opportunities.

The report noted that despite several positive achievements, Vietnamese enterprises reduced their staff numbers as well as bank loans despite lower borrowing costs.

In an online discussion of the report on January 7, VCCI Secretary-General Pham Thi Thu Hang said that an upward tick in the Corporate Sentiment Index showed enterprises were looking forward to brighter economic prospects this year.

Their optimism was based on positive results from enterprise reform that have "sorted out good resources for development," including a rise in orders and infrastructural improvements, she said.

However, Nguyen Truong Son, vice chairman of the Vietnam Young Entrepreneurs' Association, predicted that difficulties would dominate commerce this year.

His view was echoed by Vo Tri Thanh, Deputy Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), who warned that the slow recovery of the global economy and the moves of emerging economies like India and Malaysia represented a high degree of risk for Vietnamese firms.

Vietnamese enterprises should take into account the impacts of speculation as they built strategies for short-term development, Thanh said.

He said local entrepreneurs should learn to adapt to global trends and apply them well in the local context.

Meanwhile, Hang highlighted the need for long-term development strategies if local firms are to benefit fully from the Government's policies.

Nguyen Trong Hieu, deputy head of Enterprises Development Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, proposed five measures to improve the environment for domestic enterprises in 2014.

These included the completion of a comprehensive legal framework that supports development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), including pricing and advertising regulations; the establishment of an SME Development Fund and credit guarantee mechanism to facilitate the sector's access to badly needed capital; and the promotion of a transparent information system to connect enterprises, facilitating the exchange of products and services.-VNA