In recent years, e-commerce has been much talked about in Vietnam and many businesses have begun to launch e-commerce websites, but spontaneously. Vietnam has yet to issue regulations used as a legal foundation for e-commerce companies to operate.
In 2002, 800 businesses set up what are described as ecommerce websites and the figure last year rose to 3,000, according to a report on ecommerce in Vietnam done by the Ministry of Trade in 2004. However, most of the 17,500 so-called e-commerce websites are much like cyberstores where goods and services are displayed. They are not a tool for e-commerce interaction. Most transactions are confined to business-to-customer (B2C) only. The report says business-to-business (13213) is a key driver for e-commerce to grow. deputy minister of Trade Le Danh Vinh says there are three key players in e-commerce-business, government and customer, but business is key to e-commerce development. “13213 is most important and in fact, 13213 transactions worldwide make up around 60% of the total,” he says.
Therefore, under a master plan for e-commerce development in 2006?2010 mapped out by the E-commerce Department of the Ministry of Trade in preparation for the introduction of an Electronic Transaction Law, 70% of the country’s enterprises will embracee-commerceby2010. Up to 90% of small and medium enterprises will be made fully aware of the benefits brought by e-commerce. About 15% of the population of more than 80 million will get used to e-shopping. Business-to-government (132G) will be promoted so that around 30% of the government’s purchases will be under taken via the internet.
“These targets are based on the economic growth forecasts for 2006-2010 and the availability of regulations needed for e-commerce development,” Vinh says.
Government role is key E-commerce is not yet in full swing due partly to an incomplete legal foundation. The Electronic Transaction Law is still under construction and may come out next year at the earliest while the Commercial Law and the government decree on e-signature remains incomplete. Moreover, services instrumental in e-commerce development, including e-payment and online customs clearance, have yet to take shape. Nguyen Thanh Hung, head of the E-commerce Department, admits the government lags behind the corporate sector in the effort to boost e-commerce. The lack of human resources and awareness of e-commerce benefits, the inadequate legal environment, and the poor information and communication technology infrastructure are major challenges for e-commerce.
Most e-commerce businesses are still young but they have received almost no support from the government to maintain and develop their operations. Participants said at are cent seminar in HCM City on the master plan for ecommerce development in 2006-2010 that what the government should do to support e-commerce is to introduce the Electronic Transaction Law and sufficient guidance documents for it, and create a safe playing field for all players.