Improving the business environment was highlighted at three sessions at the mid-term Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) 2018, themed “Linkages Between Domestics and FDI Businesses - Partnerships for Mutual Benefit” and held on July 4 in Hanoi.

Co-hosted by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the management board of the VBF Alliance, the conference’s three sessions were on focusing on value chains, solutions for technological challenges, and developing financial human resources for sustainable development.

Though the government has moved aggressively to improve the country’s business environment, not all ministries, sectors or localities have taken concrete action, according to Dr. Vu Tien Loc, VBF Co-Chair and Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).  

After four years of implementing a one-stop national mechanism, only 47 of 245 procedures, or 19 per cent, are subject to the mechanism.

After three years of implementing reforms in the specialized inspections of export-import goods, the number of items removed from inspections accounted for less than 6 per cent. Of the 164 inspected items, 63 haven’t been officially announced by ministries and sectors. Time for inspections is 76 hours per procedure on average; three times higher than in four other ASEAN countries.

At this time, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has proposed a decree on reducing and simplifying half of all business conditions. Four ministries - Agriculture and Rural Development, Construction, Finance, and Health - have drafted decrees and sent them to VCCI to collect opinions from enterprises. Other ministries are yet to submit drafts, according to Dr. Loc.

Mr. Koji Ito, President of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam (JCCI), proposed that this year the government choose the General Department of Customs to pilot a project improving the handling of custom procedures, in cooperation with enterprise associations from many countries.

Representatives from foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) and foreign business associations in Vietnam also gave recommendations on fostering links between FIEs and domestic firms.

The majority of Vietnamese enterprises have yet to produce sufficient support products to supply FIEs, according to Mr. Kim Heung Soo, President of the Korea Chamber of Commerce (KOCHAM) in Vietnam.

Therefore, the government and FIEs should focus on addressing this situation, he said, adding that South Korean companies are working hard on growing Vietnam’s support industry and assisting small- and medium-sized enterprises.

The South Korean-invested Samsung Electronics Vietnam has increased productivity by 85 per cent through consultation programs for Vietnamese partners and suppliers, Mr. Kim added. Samsung’s programs have engaged with 26 Vietnamese firms since 2015, helping them improve their operational efficiency by 30 per cent and cut production defects by over 20 per cent.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ito said that forging stronger connections between FIEs and Vietnamese firms is of significant importance for Vietnam to raise its position in global supply chains. He believes that one of the responsibilities of the government is designing regulations to create optimal conditions for enterprises, asserting that it is necessary to connect Vietnamese companies with FIEs to strengthen their access to human resources, capital, and products.

Mr. Ousmane Dione, World Bank Country Director in Vietnam, recommended that Vietnamese firms enhance their capacity and competitiveness to become suppliers to foreign businesses, which means engaging deeper with the global value chain. This is also a platform to make full use of opportunities from Industry 4.0.