Viet Nam News
Nguyễn Văn Toàn, Vice President of the Việt Nam Association of Foreign Invested Enterprises, spoke to the Hải Quan (Customs) newspaper on State agencies’ important role in assisting enterprises to invest abroad
What are your comments on the recent surge of Vietnamese investment abroad?
If in the past, only enterprises from developed countries invested in developing countries. But according to World Bank statistics, in the last decade you can see investment trending from developing countries to developed countries, and even between developing nations themselves. Việt Nam is following that trend.
Speaking frankly, the number of Vietnamese enterprises that have invested abroad is still humble. But one encouraging sign that Vietnamese enterprises have grown up and are striving to be on par with their foreign peers is that Việt Nam is now a signatory to quite a few free trade agreements (FTA).
In your opinion, what should Vietnamese enterprises focus on as they look for investment opportunities abroad?
The first thing they have to do is gain legal knowledge about the countries that they want to do business and about their trade relations with Việt Nam. Of course, if they want to invest in whatever field, they have to conduct a thorough study about the business environment and that country, including the social and environmental laws. Last but not least, these enterprises represent Vietnam in these countries. They are doing business there, first of all to seek benefits and at the same time to help them develop. These two tasks are very important.
From the point of view of a government management agency, we encourage Vietnamese enterprises to invest abroad. But during the process of handling their applications, we will have to look carefully at their financial capacity, particularly that of State-owned enterprises (SOEs). Because we all know when the business goes sour for an SOE, the loss bearers are none other than the tax payers. Besides that, we also have to pay special attention to money laundering in the form of investment abroad.
What lessons can we learn from the big corporations like Viettel, FPT, Vinamilk and others who have invested abroad?
I should say, to be successful in business abroad, any investor needs a “strong launch." Viettel, FPT and Vinamilk all had very good “launches” inside the country before expanding their business abroad. However, for small and medium enterprises, before making decision to invest abroad, they should study the market carefully and even go into venture with big enterprises. Alternatively, they could go to niche markets.
How do you evaluate the role of State management agencies toward Vietnamese enterprises wanting to send capital abroad?
I should say these agencies have played a very important role in helping Vietnamese enterprises to invest globally.
The 2014 Investment Law (revised version) and the Government Decree No. 118/2015 provides detailed instructions on how to invest abroad. But more importantly, State management agencies should adopt creative measures to enable government policies to turn into life and facilitate procedural ease, particularly when going through customs. — VNS