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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Vietnam missing out on investment opportunities: foreign-invested firms

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HCMC – Four associations of foreign enterprises in Vietnam have expressed concern over Vietnam’s economic growth outlook, stating that the country is missing out on investment opportunities that may not return.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AmCham), the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) and the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry in HCMC (KoCham) have sent the prime minister proposals on localized pandemic prevention and control to restore safe production and business activities in the new prevention situation.

The four associations stressed that Vietnam must act now to maintain its regional and global competitiveness and not lag in economic recovery.

Enterprises need a clear roadmap and a specific date for the reopening. The surveys by these associations showed that at least 20% of their manufacturing members have already shifted some production to other countries, with more discussions underway.

Once production shifts, it is difficult to bring it back, especially once production lines have been expanded elsewhere. Investment will not increase without a clear plan for reopening and recovery.

The four associations were also concerned that Vietnam would miss out on a huge opportunity to capitalize on the diversification of supply chains away from China if it cannot demonstrate it is a reliable alternative. To maintain regional and global competitiveness, including being compared to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, Vietnam must take action now.

To help the economy recover, vaccination is key.

In addition, the proposed vaccine passport and green and yellow pass policies may be useful parts of a reopening strategy, but raise lots of questions. Chief among them are questions about what the app or tracking system is, and how it will be coordinated among the ministries and provinces to allow consistent recognition, access and travel.

There also needs to be a mechanism for recording vaccinations and granting green passes for foreigners, many of whom have been fully vaccinated abroad.

Further, the private healthcare system in Vietnam needs to be fully empowered as a partner in the battle against Covid-19, both to administer vaccines and provide care to Covid-19 patients, including telemedicine home care.

The associations urged the immediate reopening of manufacturing to a new normal. Enterprises with proven track records and clear plans need to be enabled to resume their operations.

The four associations supported the Government’s strategy to live with the virus safely and committed to supporting the Government’s dual goals.

However, recent lockdown measures disrupted many supply chains and made it difficult for even those with means to find food. Shippers, wet markets and food supply chains need to be prioritized for vaccine access and reopening immediately, with assistance provided for those in need.

As the country is moving toward a new normal, in addition to vaccination, it will be important to secure the nationwide coordination of policies, including for the transport of goods and people, availability of rapid tests and policies to rapidly isolate Covid-19 cases to ensure worker safety and minimize the impact on operations.

Moreover, the administrative management system should accept more digital documents to facilitate trade and investment during the pandemic and enable innovation and the growth of the digital economy.

By V.Dung

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