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Dec 31, 2022 / 15:57

AmCham advocates promoting a healthier, cleaner and more ecological Vietnam

AmCham Vietnam looks forward to partnering with the Vietnamese Government to navigate challenges and develop an enabling environment that attracts investment and drives innovation and sustainable growth here, especially in green sustainable agriculture.

Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Vietnam and AmCham Hanoi John Rockhold told The Hanoi Times about 2022’s achievements of American businesses in Vietnam and his expectations about mutual trade and investment cooperation between the two countries in 2023.

 Chairman of AmCham Vietnam and AmCham Hanoi John Rockhold. Photo: AmCham 

After one year as President of AmCham Vietnam and AmCham Hanoi, are you satisfied with the performance in 2022? What are the highlights?

This year marked the first time a Vietnamese Prime Minister participated in an AmCham event, and we met with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on many occasions, including the 5th Vietnam Business Forum held in December 2022. 

We signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with multiple government ministries, participated in more international, national, regional and provincial events and meetings and submitted more advocacy letters and papers in 2022 than in any previous year.

AmCham and the Department for Local Diplomacy Facilitation under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed a MOU on Cooperation to promote the friendship and cooperation between localities of Vietnam and the US to promote mutually beneficial trade and investment relations.

AmCham and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism also signed an MOU about our shared vision of promoting economic and people-to-people relations between Vietnam and the US, including increasing cooperation in the areas of culture, creative economy, tourism and sports.

 Delegates attend the signing ceremony of the event. Photo: the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism

On behalf of the American business community in Vietnam, how do you assess the business and investment performance of the members over the past time?

Vietnam was the US 6th largest supplier of goods imported in 2021, US goods imported from Vietnam totaled $101.9 billion in 2021, increased 28.1% from 2020 and about five folds from 2011. It is estimated that bilateral trade will reach $121 billion in 2022. 

This increases Vietnam’s economic independence and attractiveness as a destination for American investments as many member companies seek to diversify their global supply and need smooth integration.

What do US companies and investors expect from the Vietnamese market in the coming year, especially in terms of policy reforms and market opportunities?

We are optimistic about Vietnam’s prospects for continued growth and development. Not only is Vietnam a top destination for multinational corporations and companies seeking to diversify supply chains, its domestic economy also is experiencing strong growth. The return of foreign tourists this year has contributed to the recovery of the important tourism and hospitality sector.

However, the export-manufacturing sector now sees decreased demand due to an economic softening in key trading partners, specifically the US and Europe. In addition, Vietnam’s investment policies currently are not sufficiently competitive, nor of high enough quality, to attract much high-tech FDI [foreign direct investment] when compared to the US CHIPS and Science Act, the Europe Chip Act, or incentives offered by regional competitors like Japan, Taiwan (China), and Malaysia. 

Vietnam must continue to invest in essential infrastructure to support sustainable growth, enact policies to attract high-value manufacturing, diversify its economy to increase the role played by services and the digital economy, provide access to renewable energy, green energy for agriculture of green fertilizers and ensure that tax policy and its workforce remains globally competitive. 

AmCham looks forward to partnering with the Government to navigate these challenges and develop an enabling environment that attracts investment and drives innovation and sustainable growth here, especially in green sustainable agriculture. 

Besides, in 2023, AmCham also plans to launch Made in Vietnam Energy Plan 3.0, which is the third-year project aiming to power and energy sector’s advocacy works, and a Capacity Building program, which is expected to provide more support and insights about the conditions, barriers and best practices for Regulatory and Standards, and Bankability to contribute to policy implementation, streamline business practices, and provide a level playing field for businesses developing renewable energy projects in Vietnam.

 Delegates attend the Annual Vietnam Business Forum in February 2022 in Hanoi. Photo: VBF

What are the existing member drawbacks that AmCham Vietnam needs to continue to address?

AmCham will continue to advocate for strengthening the US-Vietnam commercial partnership, both through a robust IPEF [Indo-Pacific Economic Framework] and ideally through US entry to the CPTPP [the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership]. 

The most important factor for a favorable investment climate is a fair, transparent, predictable, and streamlined regulatory environment that values innovation - not only to attract new investment, but also to maintain and grow the investment already here. 

Facilitating prompt approvals of site master plans and related permits, business licenses and investments, reliable and consistent use of e-government and e-approvals, and unfreezing real estate development, are key. 

Stability and consistency of the local master plans and guidelines are important for businesses to continue operations and grow investments. Increased training and professionalization of government officials will be necessary to enable expedited approvals.

What will AmCham Vietnam do to strengthen the trade and investment cooperation between the two countries in 2023?

 Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh attends the Annual Vietnam Business Forum in February 2022. Photo: VBF

AmCham exists to advance the interests of our members by promoting a healthy business environment in Vietnam, strengthening bilateral commercial ties, and providing high-quality business information and activities. 

In 2023, AmCham will continue to focus advocacy efforts on economic recovery, governance and transparency, administrative and legal reform, fair tax treatment, enforcement of intellectual property rights, physical infrastructure such as green and sustainable energy and transportation, regulations that promote growth of the digital economy, improved human infrastructure, and a healthier, cleaner and greener Vietnam. 

We believe that improvements in these areas will help ensure continuation of the political and economic stability that have made Vietnam an attractive destination for business and investment AmCham leaders discuss these key issues at many meetings, forums, and other activities. 

Vietnam has done an effective job at managing global challenges - from the continuing pandemic, downturn in the global economy, and inflation in key inputs. Its comprehensive, consistent vaccine rollout and pragmatic reopening positioned Vietnam for a resilient recovery. 

Its timely adjustment to petroleum prices and pauses on new taxes and fees have helped tamp down inflationary concerns. Vietnam deserves much credit for enabling a stable macroeconomic environment, high GDP growth, and reasonably low inflation, as well as fiscal prudence with one of the lowest Government debt-to-GDP ratios in the world. 

We welcome that Vietnam has continued to focus on economic integration, with membership in CPTPP, RCEP [the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership], and the new IPEF, in addition to other regional and bilateral free trade agreements. This increases its economic independence and attractiveness as a destination for American investment as many companies seek to diversify their global supply chains and need smooth integration. 

Thank you for your time!