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Vietnam sharpens focus on regional ties

Vietnam sharpens focus on regional ties
by Rey Davis-Tuplano, Oxford Business Group



The ultimate target is for Vietnam to have achieved the same average indicators for its business environment as ASEAN - 4 countries, namely Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.

As it takes over as chair of APEC this year, Vietnam will be working towards promoting growth and enhanced regional integration, while also pushing its own reform agenda at home.

Founded in 1989 as a vehicle to promote regional cooperation between Pacific Rim economies, some of APECs core principles, such as free trade, are coming under pressure.


Roadblocks to prosperity

“APEC 2017 takes place as the world and our region experience profound and rapid changes,” Bui Thanh Son, permanent deputy minister of foreign affairs, told OBG in a recent interview.

“Prolonged economic stagnation, rising protectionism, anti-globalisation sentiment, terrorism and regional conflicts, along with more complex non-traditional security challenges, are significantly affecting our forum and each member economy.”

While the region faces a rising tide of challenges to development, some stakeholders believe that these could spur a new dynamism as economies look to foster more inclusive and sustainable growth.

“In 2017 APEC will have an even more important role to play in curbing protectionism and promoting the kind of trade that is not only free but also inclusive for all, creating business and employment opportunities for societies,” Bui Thanh Son said.


Pressing priorities

Operating under the theme “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future”, APEC will have four key pillars in 2017. The first of these aims to enhance economic resilience, increase productivity, alleviate poverty, narrow the development gap and empower women and girls through structural reform, innovation and human resource development.

The second priority for the year will be to develop greater regional integration and connectivity, seen as crucial to regional economic growth.

The third pillar involves boosting the competitiveness and innovative capacity of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) – allowing them to better capitalise on the opportunities of the digital age – while the fourth looks to strengthen food security and sustainable agriculture to meet the demand of an ever-increasing population.


Home-ground advantage

Vietnam is set to host around 200 activities as chair of APEC this year, including eight ministerial-level conferences and the 25th APEC Summit in Danang.

According to Bui Thanh Son, this could all help add momentum to the region’s economic growth and integration and Vietnam’s own development push.

The third APEC pillar in particular dovetails with the directions of reforms being enacted domestically, with recent moves focusing on enhancing the business environment.

To this end, Vietnam issued its latest Resolution 19 reforms earlier this month – the fourth such package in as many years.

As part of the resolution, the government aims to reduce the processing time required for several types of administrative procedures. This includes lowering the average time taken for construction licence approvals from 82 to 63 days, bringing down the time spent on tax and social insurance payments to 168 hours per year from 540, and speeding up Customs clearance procedures.

Authorities also want to halve the number of days it takes for a company to connect with the state’s water supply to seven days.

The ultimate target is for Vietnam to have achieved the same average indicators for its business environment as ASEAN-4 countries, namely Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.

The reforms should also help cut costs and the time needed to start a business in Vietnam, making it a more attractive investment destination for potential investors at home and abroad.


Business climate change

Furthermore, improvements in these area could help lift Vietnam on the World Banks ease of doing business index, where it ranked 82nd of 190 economies. While this was a nine-place improvement on the “Doing Business 2016” report, the country slipped ten positions in the “starting a business” category.

Areas where Vietnam registered improvements were in paying taxes and trading across borders. Improvements to the former were facilitated by simplifications to tax compliance processes undertaken in the previous Resolution 19 reform drive, which also saw the country implement an electronic customs clearance system to make trading across borders easier, cheaper and faster.



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The Queen’s 91st Birthday Party - Sapphire Jubilee



British Ambassador to Vietnam Giles Lever giving welcome speech


The BBGV staff had the honour to join The Queen’s 91st Birthday Party – Sapphire Jubilee on Tuesday, 06th of June 2017, along with representatives from Her Majesty's Armed Forces, British Embassy Vietnam, other diplomatic missions in Vietnam and the community of honorary enterprises.


The ceremony began by a moment of silence to commemorate the victims of the incidents happened in Manchester and London, and followed by the national anthems of The UK and Vietnam. The attendants then welcomed with the speech from the British Ambassador to Vietnam Giles Lever, the British Consul General Ian Gibbons and HCMC Deputy Chairman Le Thanh Liem, highlighting fruitful achievements in economic and other social aspects from the friendship between UK and Vietnam governments.


Also mentioned in these speeches the Incubator Unit concept which The BBGV Business Centre is on the way to put into practise. Our aim is that British and Vietnamese companies can trade together in an accessible and equitable manner… The BBGV Incubator would provide flexi-desk arrangements, meeting rooms and facilities for UK businesses as an additional service for those companies requiring physical office support and services.


Clients of the Incubator would benefit from the professional support of the BBGV Business Centre team and network in order to facilitate their business goals in Vietnam. BBGV would assist in connecting to the right individuals and organisations and form partnerships with the Vietnamese business and governmental sectors.


The structure - which would require a business visa to be issued – would allow UK companies a quick and cost-effective set up and licensing path in order to identify and meet key business contacts, and deliver business success.

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A brief on Healthcare sector of Vietnam



Vietnam’s health system is a mixed public-private system, in which the public system plays the key role, especially in policy, prevention, research and training. In 2015, Vietnam had approximately 1,316 hospitals with 2.89 beds per 1,000 populations. The private healthcare sector has grown steadily and the number of private hospitals has grown dramatically in recent years, representing 13.2% of hospitals and 4% beds nationwide. This number highlights opportunities for investors to enter the healthcare market.


Healthcare expenditure in Vietnam reached a value of USD13.9bn in 2015 and increased to USD14.9bn in 2016, marking a year-over-year growth of 9.6% in local currency terms. By 2025, healthcare expenditure is expected to reach USD33.7bn, more than doubling over the decade. A large and expanding population, rising incomes and improved access to healthcare services will act as key drivers of healthcare sector growth over the forecast period.


In addition to State funding, Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) and private sector funding, PPP is increasingly seen as a potentially important mechanism for Vietnam to improve its growing healthcare system.


The medical device market in Vietnam is considered as one of the Asia's fastest growing medical device markets, with a 2015-2020 CAGR of 9.0%. It ranked as the ninth largest market in the APAC region, valued at USD781.8mn in 2015. Most modern health equipment in hospitals is imported as the quality of domestic health equipment in Vietnam has yet to meet the national and international standards. Local production accounts for only 5% of the market. Domestic production is limited to basic items such as consumables. Some multinationals (B Braun, United Healthcare, Mediplast, etc...) have set up plants, attracted by low manufacturing and labour costs.


Only local companies can distribute medical devices in Vietnam, foreign companies must therefore sell their products through appointed local distributors and agents. VINAMED (Vietnam Medical Equipment Corporation) is one of the country's leading distributors. Vietnamese buyers, especially in the public sector, generally expect to deal with a local distributor to handle all aspects of distribution, from delivery to after sales service and provision of spare parts.

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Free UK- Import Inquiries Service for Vietnamese Companies



The Business Centre provides a free service to Vietnamese companies, in the form of first-line confidential inquiries issue on the UK government’s portal:

Import & partnership demand from Vietnamese companies are raised on this portal. The portal targets UK businesses who are keen on exporting to specific countries including Vietnam. Business Centre then connects interested UK businesses to the respected Vietnamese companies.

For the past three months, we have posted 25 inquiries and connected around 18 Vietnamese companies with around 80 UK prospects.


Details of inquiry service:

Step 1: Vietnamese companies can submit inquiries to the BBGV Business Centre via phone, email or in person, following the template .
Step 2: BBGV Business Center will upload the inquiries onto the portal within 3 working days
Step 3: Additional quality control measurement will be applied and managed by the UK government (maximum 10 working days)
Step 4: UK companies start bidding within the deadlines. BBGV will assess the capability of interested UK companies and connect the suitable ones to the Vietnamese side.

The service is expected to deliver excellence connection between Vietnamese companies and potential UK exporters, enabling Vietnamese companies to broaden their product portfolios and seek sustainable operational solutions in order to improve their competitive advantages and satisfy customers.

For more information, please visit our website:


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UK Export Finance (UKEF) Chief Executive Officer visits Vietnam

Chief Executive Officer of UKEF Louis Taylor, during his three-day visit to Vietnam, brought goodwill to foster infrastructure development with a credit financial support package of up to 1.5 billion GBP.



 Louis Taylor together with HCMC Deputy Chairman Le Thanh Liem at their meeting. (Source: HCM City People’s Committee Website)

Mr. Taylor held discussions on competitive long-term packages with public and private project sponsors in Hanoi. On the third day of his visit, Louis Taylor travelled to Ho Chi Minh City and held several meetings, including one with Mr. Le Van Liem – Deputy Chairman of HCMC People’s Committee.  Mr. Liem appreciated the offer from UKEF for the infrastructure progress of Vietnam and looked forward to further investment from UK companies in different sectors, in particular for Healthcare and Education projects. Mr. Taylor expressed a firm belief in the significant progress made by  Vietnam’s economy and, expressed his hope that the with UKEF support that the UK could continue to support the development made to date. 

Louis Taylor also met with UK business leaders in HCMC including the Urban Development Working Group, Mr Kenneth Atkinsion  - Executive Chairman of Grant Thornton Vietnam and Mr Tom Vaizey - Legal Counsel of the Dragon Capital Group. 

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