Antoine Logeay, Attorney-at-Law at A&P in Hanoi, spoke to Vietnam Investment Review’s Đầu Tư newspaper this month for a special edition commemorating 75 Years of Vietnamese Independence.
The interview began with a discussion of Vietnam’s socio-economic development since Đổi Mới, and Antoine highlighted the importance of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Vietnam’s remarkable transformation over the last three decades. Pinpointing membership of ASEAN in 1995 as one of the landmark moments of this evolution, he commented:
“Looking back over Vietnam’s history, this date appears as one of the most significant milestones in Vietnam’s international integration. It contributed to increasing Vietnam’s international prestige and promoting its image as an open economy on international markets.”
Membership of the World Trade Organization followed in 2007. And this set the stage for Vietnam to negotiate free trade agreements with some of the world’s major trading blocs. Then, in August 2020 after almost a decade of negotiation, Vietnam implemented a historic deal with the European Union: The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (or EVFTA).
Antoine underlined that these agreements do not just open the door for foreign firms relocating their production to Vietnam, but also create opportunities for foreign firms willing to meet the increasing demands of a growing middle-class consumer market:
“The first supermarkets [which were established by foreign firms] were seen as pioneers in Vietnam. They contributed to changing the face of Vietnamese consumption by adding to traditional markets the option for Vietnamese consumers to shop in large-scale retail distribution supermarkets.”
Less obvious to consumers – but more important for Vietnam’s socio-economic development – has been foreign investment in large-scale infrastructure projects. Antoine highlighted a partnership between the state of Vietnam, Electricité de France (EDF), and two Japanese investors in a Ba Ria-Vung Tau power-generation project to show how FDI has facilitated Vietnam’s growth and modernization.
Later, talk turned to high-tech industries and their potential to create growth in the future. Antoine remarked that, while Vietnam’s tax framework offers some positive preferential treatment in this area, there are some legal issues that need to be addressed if Vietnam is to unlock the full potential of the 4th Industrial Revolution:
“Attracting more talent to Vietnam to develop high-tech industries will require more transparency in administrative procedures. One example is the requirement to register any ‘technology transfer’ from abroad with the Ministry of Science and Technology. This requirement was introduced in the 2017 Law on Technology Transfer. But it is still largely misunderstood by foreign investors. That’s because the definition of ‘technology transfer’ is excessively large… and the process of registration is time-consuming.”
Speaking to Đầu Tư, Antoine also discussed Vietnam’s growing role on the global stage – such as hosting the diplomatic summit between the United States and North Korea and chairing ASEAN – and how this is boosting its “soft power” abroad.
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