To Hoai Nam, vice chairman of the Viet Nam Association of SMEs, spoke to the newspaperThoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economic Times) about a lack of legal information.
How do you evaluate small and medium enterprises' knowledge about international trade laws and practices?
I have to concede that their legal knowledge about international trade is very poor. That's why when legal matters occur during business with a foreign partner, Vietnamese enterprises are often caught in a puzzle.
Not many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have attended any legal courses. Their knowledge about labour regulations, insurance, environmental hygiene, labour safety, taxes and trade contracts with foreign firms is very vague.
In the process of international integration, Viet Nam has adjusted its policies and legal system to make them compatible with international practices. However, due to their limited capacity, Vietnamese SMEs are facing many challenges as they try to learn about Vietnamese laws, and international trade laws and practices.
Objectively speaking, the country's unstable macro economy and our slow administrative reform are the two main contributors to Vietnamese SMEs' poor legal knowledge.
Subjectively speaking, the enterprises themselves have not really paid much attention to finding out more.
It is high time the Government paid more attention to SMEs and gave them legal coaching, particularly on international trade laws and practices.
Will you please tell us about your association's plan to give legal aid to all 700,000 Vietnamese SMEs by the end of 2015?
This is a big task for us. It will require great efforts from our association with support from the ministries, sectors and localities.
In my opinion, the first thing we must do is complete a legal framework for enterprises. Policies and legal documents on SMEs should be developed and implemented. At present many legal documents have been issued by the Government, ministries, sectors and others, but the enterprises don't know how to access them. Based on the enterprises' requests, our association has made a proposal to the Government to create a web site for this. All legal documents on SMEs will then be posted on that site. I think that will be the shortest and most effective way to help the enterprises access the required legal documents they need.
In addition, enterprises have expressed their interest in attending legal workshops and training organised by government agencies or legal organ-isations.
Giving legal aid to enterprises is not an easy task, as you have mentioned above. Does your association have any plan for the future?
We are facing many challenges with financial resources, human resources and other things.
At enterprises' requests, in the remaining months of this year we'll organise some training workshops on legal aid for employers and managers. In addition, we'll organise training workshops for staff members who are in charge of legal activities in the enterprises, particularly those from local enterprises.
For enterprises in disadvantaged areas, we'll organise a separate legal aid network for them. At present, the SMEs Association has a network in 49 out of 63 provinces and cities nationwide. We'll soon expand that network to the remaining 14 provinces.
In the coming months, we'll select some provincial enterprise associations to create a pilot network. Based on our experiences with this pilot network, we'll be able to expand to the local level. Hopefully these networks will become reliable addresses for enterprises to contact when they face legal problems with foreign firms. — VNS