Vietnamese businesses remain bystanders in integration process

05-Jan-2016 Intellasia | Bao Dau Tu | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The year 2015 will end in just one more day. The year 2016 will witness Vietnam’s broad and comprehensive integration into the global economy. But even when the opportunities and challenges brought by integration are near, there still remains a concern that, the majority of Vietnamese businesses are still bystanders in this game.

In fact, this has been mentioned long ago, but as the year 2016 comes closer, the concern is greater. Asean Economic Community (AEC) was established. The free trade agreements with Europe, South Korea, as well as with many other partners have been signed and taken effect shortly. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, as announced by the minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang is also being reported to the Politburo for approval to formally sign in February 2016.

Of course, so far, the success or failure of TPP depends largely on the approval of the US Congress. Anyway, the heat of integration has actually come. And that is the way Vietnam has to keep on going, cannot stop.

But look at the discussion contents at the meeting between the government and localities. Though the government’s report when discussing the implementation of the 2016 socio-economic development plan is also put in the context of challenges caused by the integration in AEC, TPP and other FTAs, many industry commanders expressed impatience against the risks that the economy face when integrates, but not many localities are anxious to discuss about the strategy to cope with these challenges.

The same story happens to businesses. As a coincidence, at the same time that the meeting took place, the Institute for Education Development and Pace Institute of Management released a study that made the public startled. Specifically, 40.9 percent of surveyed businesses do not know what TPP is. As much as 56.8 percent of businesses have not known and almost are not interested in AEC. Even, 33.4 percent do not know about WTO (World Trade Organisation). The percentage of businesses that do not know the specific terms of AEC and TPP are even more, at 85.5 percent and 81.5 percent respectively.

The survey result is for reference only, but obviously is very disturbing, especially when this fact has been confirmed for a long time now. The effect of FTAs is not far off, though the effective date can be 2017 or 2018. Even minister Vu Huy Hoang said that in the negotiation, the countries agreed for Vietnam to have a certain period to prepare.

The new generation FTA, or even the old generation FTA, are tied to two terms of opportunities and challenges. Can we take advantage of opportunities or vice versa, turning opportunities into challenges when competitiveness is still low, integration is only concerned at the central level while being ignored at the local level, businesses are bystanders. If so, the risk of losing on the integration chessboard is quite large.

The year 2016 is about to begin. Currently, there is no time to find out how businesses are interested in AEC, TPP, etc. or make recommendations on the dissemination of information so that citizens and businesses better understand them. This is necessary but not sufficient. It is time to start implementing all measures to enhance competitiveness, willingness to adapt and capture opportunities from integration. It is necessary to act urgently.

 


Category: Economy, Vietnam

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