|ASEAN figures among the important trade and investment partners of Viet Nam. The export-import turnover of Viet Nam with ASEAN is estimated to be more than $40 billion. — File Photo
HA NOI (VNS) – Vietnamese firms have been urged to take initiative and prepare for participation in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which is expected to be formed by the end of this year.
At a forum on the Government's e-portal held yesterday, experts said that besides offering many opportunities, the AEC will also pose challenges, such as the influx of products and services from neighbouring markets and skilled labourers, adding that, if Viet Nam does not enhance its competitiveness, the country might become a consumption market for other countries in the region.
According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Cam Tu, AEC is expected to create a firm base for Viet Nam to help integrate more deeply into the global economy.
The integration process has put Vietnamese firms in urgent need for changes to promote advantages, Tu said. However, he pointed out that firms are seemingly not paying enough attention and businesses lack detailed information about the AEC.
Tu stressed that Viet Nam must follow the roadmap for the formation of the AEC as 2015 has already started, adding that the country must follow other integration commitments also.
Economist Nguyen Hong Son said there is a lot of work to be done ahead, including stabilizing the macro-economic situation and improving the business climate for enterprises.
Son added that coordination amongst the Government, enterprises and associations is also critical for the integration.
He pointed out that detailed information should be provided to companies to enhance their awareness about the AEC, as well as opportunities and challenges that will stem from being part of the association.
A recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Planning and Investment revealed that 76 per cent of domestic firms had no knowledge about the AEC, 94 per cent did not understand the content of negotiations, while 63 per cent were unaware of the opportunities and challenges involved in participating in the AEC.
Support should also be provided to the firms to connect with foreign-invested companies, which will help Vietnamese firms to participate further in the regional and global value chain, and to enhance their capacity to deal with potential risks, which might arise from changes in the global market and policies of foreign countries, Son stated.
It is therefore important for firms to enhance their management capacity, he added.
Experts at yesterday's forum also pointed out that human resources pose a major problem ahead of the formation of the AEC as Viet Nam is facing a shortage of skilled labour and suffers from low productivity.
When the economic community is formed, there will be a free flow of human resources among member countries, which might put Viet Nam at risk of brain drain and boost competition from other labour markets that possess better skills and higher productivity.
"The quality of our labour force must be enhanced to meet regional standards," Son said.
AEC is expected to be formed by the end of this year by 10 member countries, with an estimated combined GDP of US$2.5 trillion.
ASEAN figures among the important trade and investment partners of Viet Nam. The export-import turnover of Viet Nam with ASEAN is estimated to be more than $40 billion. — VNS