HA NOI (VNS) — The National Assembly Standing Committee yesterday reviewed a report made by its supervisory team on economic international integration after Viet Nam joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2007.
The committee members agreed that Viet Nam gained more than it lost when it became a WTO member.
WTO membership has affected all areas of the country's socioeconomic development, including improved legal institutions, increased foreign investment, a reformed administrative system, improved infrastructure and an expanded telecommunication market.
The report indicates that Viet Nam's position in the world has risen since 2007. The WTO ranked Viet Nam 50th and 41st in terms of export and import revenue, respectively, in 2007. Last year, the country moved up 16 positions to 34th in exports, while its imports jumped nine positions to 32nd.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Viet Nam made up 21.7 per cent of total investments in the country last year, which marked an increase from investments made prior to 2007 (14.9 per cent in 2005 and 16.2 per cent in 2006).
Viet Nam also expanded its investments in other countries across all continents, particularly in mining, agriculture, forestry and telecommunication sectors.
Viet Nam's financial, monetary and security markets were institutionalised, renovated and expanded.
GDP per capita last year was VND43.4 million (US$1,900), which was nearly triple the GDP in 2007. The unemployment rate fell from 2.47 per cent in 2007 to 1.95 per cent last year.
Nguyen Van Giau, chairman of the NA Committee for Economics and head of the supervisory team, said the country took opportunities and overcame challenges that international economic integration brought with it.
Viet Nam also used its advantages to secure national sovereignty and socio-political stability and elevate its position on the world stage, he said.
However, the report also revealed challenges facing the country during the international economic integration process.
Viet Nam still lacks specific measures to actualise major policies that were laid out when it became a WTO member.
Average economic growth in the last eight years is 5.94 per cent, compared to 7.27 per cent from 2001-06. The high dependence of the economy on investment and labour factors made the nation's growth slow down and show signs of instability. Capital and labour factors contributed about 53 and 20 per cent, respectively, to the GDP growth, while the total-factor productivity (TFP) – often taken as a measure of an economy's technological dynamism – accounted for only about 29 per cent. The number was critically low compared to that of other countries in the region, which at times climbed to 35-40 per cent.
Moreover, FDI enterprises are mainly processing ones, resulting in little technology transfer to Viet Nam's economy. The country also faced challenges to cope with pricing transfers, tax evasion and trade fraud within the FDI sector.
The competitiveness of the nation, domestic enterprises and Vietnamese products are still modest, according to global rankings. In the 2014-15 Global Competitiveness Report, Viet Nam ranked 68th out of 144, compared to its ranking of 70th in 2007-08 and 64th in 2006-07.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh said Viet Nam formed a legal framework compatible with WTO's rules for eight years, creating a trade climate that was easier to predict.
Despite concerns about Viet Nam joining WTO prior to 2007, Khanh said the country's economic sectors in telecommunication, finance and agriculture were still standing steady against tough competition.
NA Standing Committee members agreed with major solutions recommended in the report for Viet Nam to enhance integration opportunities including improved communication, a legal framework, human resources and infrastructure, and administrative reform.
Pharmacy draft law
The NA Standing Committee also discussed a draft of the revised Law on Pharmacy, which was passed 10 years ago.
The law helped the Government to better manage pharmacies and ensure citizens' rights to access high-quality and safe medicines with affordable prices.
However, new issues have arisen pertaining to medicine prices, pharmacy trade, circulation and withdrawal, medicine testing and materials for pharmaceutical production.
Chairman of the National Assembly Council of Ethnic Affairs, Ksor Phuoc said that the revised law should include a separate chapter on traditional medicine to preserve and promote the country's traditional remedies.
Under the revised version, a pharmacy practising licence is valid for five years. NA vice chairman Uong Chu Luu said the licence granting procedure must be regulated in a way that is easy and convenient for applicants. — VNS