On November 4, in Bangkok (Thailand), the Indo-Pacific Business Forum was held with the participation of representatives of the US Government, business representatives and press agencies from over 40 countries in the Indo-Pacific region.
On the sidelines of the forum, BizLIVE had a private interview with the US Ambassador to Vietnam, Mr. Daniel J. Kritenbrink about the Vietnamese business environment.
Vietnam has recently been upgraded in the business environment, so in your opinion, is the business environment in Vietnam really upgraded and what will Vietnam need to do to improve the business environment for it to become more favorable for foreign investors?
First I want to reaffirm why we are here together today in the Indo-Pacific Business Forum. This forum is an opportunity for the United States to reaffirm its commitment to the region and Vietnam. It has more than 1 thousand delegates, representing business communities, US businesses, governments in many countries in the region and of course, the US Government.
We have made our commitment to the Indo-Pacific region very clear. We think Vietnam is one of our most important partners in the region, and we are pleased to witness a rapid increase in the two-way trade.
I believe that American businesses see great potential in Vietnam so they will continue to invest strongly. However, there are still challenges. We have constantly worked with the Government of Vietnam to address outstanding issues.
There are still many challenges and barriers that we are witnessing, such as in agriculture, e-commerce and also in the automobile industry. But I can say that we are still very optimistic about our ability to handle these challenges well.
In particular, I would like to mention Decree 116 in the Vietnamese automotive industry, which hinders the entry of Vietnam automobile market of many American automobile manufacturers. We are working to address this challenge and are going well.
We are also concerned with some of the issues that we are facing with Vietnam's cybersecurity laws, because we do not think that the law will help strengthen cybersecurity in Vietnam, we think it will hinder the operation of American companies in Vietnam.
We are pleased that US trade with Vietnam is growing. When we began normalizing diplomatic relations 25 years ago, US trade with Vietnam was almost nothing, now trade with the US with Vietnam is nearly 60 billion USD.
But, of course, the United States is also experiencing trade deficits with Vietnam. Therefore, we also want Vietnam to adjust its market access conditions, so that we can have free and fair trade.
What difficulties are American businesses facing when doing business in Vietnam and what should Vietnam do?
Before answering this question of yours, I need to present an overview.
Vietnam is still an extremely attractive market for US businesses. Vietnam's economy is the fastest growing in the world, a young country with more than 60% of the population under the age of 30, people with a positive view of the United States, a committed, intelligent and hard-working workforce with an improving education.
Vietnam's economy will continue to grow well in the coming decades and infrastructure will be greatly improved. Therefore, it can be said that there are many opportunities in Vietnam.
But it is not without difficulties. The biggest challenge is market access.
Apart from the aforementioned issue, many US and foreign businesses are concerned about the lack of transparency in Vietnam considering the policy making and announcement process of Vietnam. Not to mention the tax policy also creates challenges. Foreign businesses are also concerned that the tax policy is not in their favor.
In the event of rising US-China tension, the wave of investment movement from China to Vietnam will take place, whether Vietnam will absorb this wave and what Vietnam needs to do to catch the most effective investment first wave?
In this regard, it would be more fit for the US Department of Commerce than for me to answer. However, as Ambassador, I can share my views on this issue as follows.
The president of the United States has made it clear that the United States pursues its goal of fair and free trade. We have achieved that goal and solved many problems that have existed for many years in China, which we think is extremely unfair to American businesses.
As for Vietnam, Vietnam should improve many issues as I mentioned above. As Vietnam and the US can cooperate more in aviation, health care and energy, Vietnam needs to improve market access conditions for foreign businesses. Once these issues are well addressed, I believe Vietnam will be able to respond well to investment shifts.
Sincerely thank you!