Making breakthrough for Vietnam economic developments: Untie the knots (*)

(VLR) (Vietnam Logistics Review) In 2016, Vietnam’s GDP reached 6.21, not achieving the planned target. In 2017, the Assembly approved the growth target of 6.7%. To achieve the target, the Government should have flexible mechanisms and policies, giving enterprises, especially private ones, opportunities to have investments confidently to make the economy growing.

(Vietnam Logistics Review) In 2016, Vietnam’s GDP reached 6.21, not achieving the planned target. In 2017, the Assembly approved the growth target of 6.7%. To achieve the target, the Government should have flexible mechanisms and policies, giving enterprises, especially private ones, opportunities to have investments confidently to make the economy growing.

Barriers to enterprises

Vietnam entered 2017 with determination of making breakthroughs and innovation. There are many opportunities and challenges as well due to worldwide economic changes. According to experts, business environment index in 2016 and the Government’s commitments of more economic innovations have made remarkable developments of Vietnam economy. For example, Vietnam issued guideline on national possession – a turning point to innovations. Innovations to enterprises belonging to national possession play an important role to Vietnam’s finance situation for it increases efficiency of public expense. Money from enterprise equitization can be used to reduce public indebtedness. Vietnam can also have great moves in bank restructuring and solving bad debts with foreign capital. With innovation plans and recovery of its agriculture and export, Vietnam expect to achieve GDP growth of 6.4% in 2017.

However, right in the first quarter of 2017, Vietnam had to face outside challenges due to issues from export, exchange rate, and macro policies: Australia banned shrimp export, European markets stopped selling catfish, Korea required inspection on shrimp... - new barriers that the aqua-production sector had to face. Previously, Department of Commerce (DOC) of the U.S’s required to keep applying anti-dumpling law on Vietnam’s shrimp for at least 5 more years. Therefore, the target of USD 10bn of shrimp export to 2025 has been facing many challenges not only from the farming condition inside the country but also from barriers from imported countries. Besides, influence from weather changes in 2017 will also bring difficulties to sectors of producing agricultural, forestry, aqua-products. Especially, Vietnam rice export will face more difficulties in 2017 when the Mekong Delta- the main rice producing zone- is facing droughts, salinity intrusion. The service sector will also meet difficulties due to weak consuming abilities, making it impossible to reach the expected GDP.

Only Vietnam’s import- export activities can meet the expectation of a blooming economy in 2017 with improvements from free trade agreements, tax-reducing roadmap, and Vietnam’s key exported products. However, the changing world economy will affect Vietnam income and export. At the end of March 2017, crude oil price in the world market kept decreasing due to the U.S increasing export although oil exporting countries had previously reached agreements on decreasing production amount from January 2017. The price has been predicted not to reach the point of USD55/ barrel. In addition, in March 15, the U.S Federal Reserve System (FRS) decided to increase interest from 0.25% to 0.75%-1%, and there are possibly 2 more interest increases in 2017, which affects not only the U.S economy but also global economy. One more obvious change is the rising of US dollars. This will cause negative changes to export activities and worsen trade balance in the coming year.

“Innovations on mechanisms and improving competition abilities of the economy have been key issues for many years. The Government should untie knots that have stiffed the development of the economy”

What is more, challenges from inside policies also braked the developments of enterprises’. For example, Hai Phong has recently suggested to increase seaport service fee. Hai Phong Port is now accounting for 1/3 of the country’s import- export amount, but has weaker competition abilities than other ports do. Fee for container transport from Hai Phong to Japan is USD 1,000/40-feet container; meanwhile, fee from HCMC to Japan is USD 300; and from Cai Mep- Thi Vai, USD 270.

Untie the knots

The Decree no.35 by the Government on supporting enterprises’ developments to 2020 dated May 16th, 2016 was considered a breakthrough in innovations of mechanism, b u s i n e s s environment... With the d e c r e e , enterprises expected to have a more openm i n d e d , transparent, government who is willing to lift off their barriers. However, they have had so many barriers so far. Reality show that activities of enterprises, especially those of medium and small- sized, have faced difficulties from capital, land, consuming market and technology applications... Policies and guidelines by the Government have not been synchronous, not creating driving force for improvements of competition abilities and not ensure enterprises’ developments in the conditions of market economy.

According to enterprises, administration procedure innovations from ministries, to sectors, departments and related sector have been too slow. For example, in case of the sector in priority as assisting industry, the Government’s documents were issued over 5 years ago, supporting programs on capital, tax, land-lease have not come to most enterprises in the field. Enterprises almost have no favor in the matter of production floor. And other sectors and fields have experienced the same difficulties.

There have been ownership changes the super market system, especially foreign ones, which makes both laborer and local enterprises puzzled. Meanwhile, the Government has neither had reactions to retail market takeovers from foreign companies nor paid attention to the development of local retail sector.

It is obvious that management skills of many state’s organizations are weaker than those of enterprises’. There should be a transparent authority- an authority that can be enterprises’ companion, being together with enterprises creating product value chains, not an authority thinking about giving favors to enterprises like it is today. To make an enterprise grow up, local authorities should have mechanism to support them. Departments and sectors should be more responsible to people and enterprises, not trying to avoid their own responsibilities.

According to the report Doing Business 2016 by World Bank, Vietnam enterprises had to spend 40% of their income for tax, not accounting for various fees and other expenses. Although tax on enterprises income decreased from 25% to 22%, the amount of tax is still higher than those in other regional countries, equally to 39.4% income. The income tax rate that Vietnam enterprises have to pay is lower than those in the U.S and China, but is much higher than those of other regional countries. For example, the rate is 18.4% in Singapore; around 27.5% in Thailand; 21% in Cambodia; 29.7% in Indonesia...

It is the time that the Government turn its policies to particular actions to meet the expectations from the business community. In March 15th, at the conference “Solutions for Sustainable Development of the Rice Production Sector of the Mekong Delta” at An Giang, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said: “There should be more drastic changes to mechanism, removing unnecessary things to apply to rice production”. Policies of limited land extension, branding, and sustainable development have been directed from the Prime Minister to Ministries and sectors. Therefore, Vietnam rice production sector needs a new vision- a vision going along with strategic planning suitable to the trend of globalization - to make Vietnam rice meet the consuming needs in Asia and those in the world, brining best value added for Vietnam farmers and enterprises operating in the field of rice production.

The action by the Government has been appreciated by rice-exporting enterprises. And other sectors are long for such an action to remove group’s interests, red tape that have spoiled belief and energy of enterprises’.

(*) The article using documents from the Resolution no.35 by the Government on supporting enterprises’ developments to 2020 issued May 16th, 2oa6 and the Decree no.19 issued February 6th, 2017 by the Government on solutions for improving national business environment and competition abilities in 2017, orientation to 2020.

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