Integration and national start-up spirit

(VEN) - With the concluded free trade agreements (FTAs) and the conclusion of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), this year will open up both opportunities for economic development and challenges, according to Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee member and head of the Central Committee Economic Commission Vuong Dinh Hue in an interview by Vietnam Economic News’ Le Kim Lien.

Integration and national start-up spirit

Vietnam has undergone 30 years of renovation. What are your comments on Vietnam’s international economic integration and its impact on the domestic economy?

After 30 years of renovation, our country has qualitatively and quantitively integrated into the global economy at various levels and in various ways following the principles and standards of the global market. So far, almost 50 countries have recognized Vietnam as a market-led economy. Vietnam has concluded more than 90 bilateral trade agreements, almost 60 agreements on investment encouragement and protection, and 54 agreements on dual taxation avoidance.

Last year Vietnam signed a wealth of FTAs. It concluded negotiations on the FTA with the European Union, joined the ASEAN Economic Community and ended negotiations on the TPP. Increasing national economic integration has positively affected Vietnamese economic development.

Vietnam’s export markets have been expanded to 230 countries and territories. The business environment has improved, making it more possible for businesses to join the global value chain. Vietnam has joined three value chains which play an increasingly important role in the global economy including the food value and food security chain, the energy value and energy security chain, and the textile, garment, leather and footwear value chain.

The ASEAN Economic Community was established, and bilateral and multilateral trade agreements were concluded making Vietnam a foreign direct investment (FDI) attraction hub. Many said that unless domestic businesses quickly seize the opportunities, FDI enterprises will benefit most from integration. What is your point of view?

We must devise policies to select FDI capital and groups which already have value chains and are ready to transfer them to Vietnam. In particular, it is necessary to choose FDI capital which matches the direction of our economic restructuring, and to connect FDI and domestic businesses.

Concurrently, we need to help strengthen domestic businesses. For this to happen, we first need to create a general business environment for all kinds of businesses to benefit and treat each other in compliance with the market principles, to establish the philosophy and culture of national business, regardless of large or small, state-owned or private business, to foster the spirit of national start-up in order for Vietnamese businesses to raise their responsibilities and self-pride.

How to bolster this ‘start-up spirit’?

I think we should put in place specific policies to nurture national start-ups in combination with the strong implementation of the amended Investment Law and the Enterprise Law. In particular, it is necessary to increase national competitiveness.

To promote the domestic business sector including both state-owned and small to medium-sized enterprises, together with improving the investment environment, market and competitiveness, it is crucial to bridge the pision between legal regulations and the capabilities of officials and state agencies in order to create the most favorable environment for businesses to grow. In addition, it is important to create national value via Vietnamese businesses.

What do you think about the private sector?

More than 500,000 businesses have been registered in Vietnam. The figure is too modest when compared with other countries. We are striving to have two million businesses by the end of 2020.

The 11th Party Congress acknowledges the private sector as an important development engine. Actually, we have realized the major role and position of the private sector in economic development. For example, the Xuan Truong Construction Company had designed and built a 3,500 seat event arena in Ninh Binh Province’s Bai Dinh over just two months for the inauguration of the United Nations Vesak Festival. Vingroup had built the Vinpearl Phu Quoc Resort on Phu Quoc Island in just over 10 months.

This means that Vietnamese businesses are proficient and are able to grow in any circumstances. The private sector currently contributes 46 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). It is really a development engine. The question for now is how to make private businesses develop in a sustainable manner.

How about state-run enterprises? Some said this sector has received many preferences but has not operated effectively

According to the Politburo, Vietnam will restrict and then terminate the ownership of ministries and provincial and municipal people’s committees at state-owned enterprises. Instead, it will establish specialized agencies as the owners of state-owned enterprises. Meanwhile, the government will impose market disciplines on state-owned enterprises, build managerial capacity and continue equitizing and restructuring state-owned enterprises to treat them as equally as other economic sectors.

What do you think are economic prospects for 2016?

The global economy is expected to recover slowly, but better this year, positively affecting the Vietnamese macro economy, particularly trade and investment. With this in mind, the Vietnamese economy is expected to continue its recovery momentum. The National Assembly has set a GDP growth rate of 6.7 percent for 2016 compared with 6.2 percent for 2015. However, to realize the target, the government, ministries and localities must renew the growth model, restructure the economy and achieve strategic breakthroughs.

I think, this year we must try to create a second investment wave. The first investment wave happened after we issued the Enterprise Law and the Investment Law. Now that we have applied the amendments of the Investment Law and the Enterprise Law in a modern and transparent manner, while concluding a number of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and joining the ASEAN Community, we hope that we will create a second investment wave in Vietnam, following the spirit of national start-up.

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