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Foreign firms expect benefits from trade pact

Update: May, 27/2013 - 09:03
Kobelco-Eco Solution, a Japanese firm, builds a factory in southern Dong Nai Province's Long Duc Industrial zone. — VNA/VNS Photo Danh Lam

by Quynh Hoa

HCM CITY (VNS)— A proposed trade deal between several Pacific rim countries is expected to benefit foreign businesses based in Viet Nam, whether or not they are from member countries.

The news was released at a forum organised by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in HCM City last Friday.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is being negotiated, would make it easier to find partners once the tariffs are cut by the members, Josephine Yei, a representative of the Malaysia Business Chamber, said.

Viet Nam's major export items like garment, seafood, and processed materials would meet fewer barriers and Malaysian businesses in these industries would benefit from the TPP, she said.

The admission to the TPP would require Vietnamese authorities to improve the country's legal framework, which would enable Malaysian businesses to gain better protection and access to proper channels for handling trade disputes and arbitration, she added.

But Malaysian businesses would still have some concerns since under the trade deal workers would have the right to set up unions and negotiate the provisions of their labour contracts with employers.

In a country they find attractive because of the "easy access" to labour, they fear this could make things harder for them in the future, according to Yei.

Considering the potential of the TPP, there should be more FDI coming into Viet Nam in the coming years, according to Chen Hsin-Ming, chairman of the Council of Taiwanese Chamber.

For instance, his organisation has noticed that some Taiwanese investors in the textile industry plan to enlarge production in Viet Nam.

"We have noticed some large investors conducting comprehensive feasibility studies for investment in this country. "They are looking at enhanced market access opportunities once tariff elimination or reduction under the TPP is in effect."

Taiwan is the second largest investor in Viet Nam with over US $27 billion in more than 2,230 projects.

Antony Nezic, vice president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the TPP offers an opportunity to advance Canadian interests in the Asia-Pacific, which is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world and a key driver of the global economy.

It also offers Canada a foothold in the burgeoning Asian market and access to critical Asia-Pacific value chains, he said.

Asia is expected to represent two-thirds of the world's middle class by 2030 and 50 per cent of global GDP by 2050.

Junn Huyn Soo of the Korea Chamber of Commerce, who is also the chairman of the 500-strong Korean Textile and Garment Association here, said: "The essence of the TPP is to provide a winning strategy for all Pacific nations."

The agreement would contribute to Viet Nam's economic growth, he said.

Last year the country exported textile and garments worth $15 billion, of which Korean firms accounted for around 30 per cent.

Korean textile and garments firms plan to double their investment in Viet Nam in the short term to avail the great opportunity offered by the TPP, he revealed.

Wrinkles to be ironed out before leaders meet

The 17th round of TPP negotiations was held in Peruvian capital Lima from May 15 to 24, with negotiators planning to complete work on some chapters and accelerate progress on more challenging issues like intellectual property; competition/State-owned enterprises; environment; market access for goods, services, and investment; and government procurement.

Also on the agenda are trade in services, rules of origin, competition, and labour standards.

They hope to hammer out solutions to sensitive issues so that after the 18th round in July, everything will be ready for the political decisions that need to be made for a comprehensive agreement that can be signed this year at the October 1-8 APEC Leaders Meeting in Indonesia.

The TPP will bring together the US, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Viet Nam.

In April, Japan indicated it wanted to be part of the TPP. — VNS



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