Viet Nam News
After more than 20 years of development, the securities market has confirmed its important role in raising capital for the economy. Việt Nam’s efforts to earn emerging market status are expected to strengthen the country’s financial market position and enhance its ability to attract foreign capital.
Vũ Chí Dũng, director of the International Co-operation Department of the State Securities Commission (SSC), discussed the path to achieving emerging market status with the Vietnamese stock market with the Vietnam News Agency Television Centre (VNews).
How has the local stock market developed since the beginning of this year?
Việt Nam’s stock market has expanded significantly since early this year, with the VN-Index on the HCM Stock Exchange expanding 7-8 per cent and the HNX-Index on the Hà Nội Stock Exchange rising 12 per cent compared to the end of 2016. The market capitalisation is 51 per cent of the country’s GDP, the highest since the establishment of the stock market and up 17.6 per cent since the end of 2016.
These figures have demonstrated investor interest in the market and confirmed that the restructuring process of the stock market is on the right track.
Could you explain how markets are classified?
Market classification aims to help investors, especially foreign investors, to specify the market status and facilitate their decisions on investment targets and capital allocation.
There are three international organisations providing market classification: MSCI, FTSE Russell and S&P Dow Jones. All of these three organisations divide markets into three grades consisting of developed, emerging and frontier status. These rankings help investors determine their investment strategy and capital allocation for each type of markets.
Why should Việt Nam seek to upgrade its market status?
Upgrading the market status also means expanding facilitation of investors’ participation in the market. This is the main purpose. Different market types have different investors and investment strategies. Facilitation for investor participation in the market targets both existing investors and newcomers to the market.
Boosting capital inflows into the stock market also creates conditions for the overall development of the market and increases capital supply. It therefore promotes the equitisation of State-owned enterprises as well.
What are impediments to the country’s ascent to emerging status, and what has the State Securities Commission implemented to address these issues?
Impediments here are not newly created but existing obstacles caused by old policies. The first issue is the circulation of capital, which shows foreign investors the availability and efficiency of capital into and out of the market. This is a sensitive issue in the current law. The foreign exchange market is under strict control of the State, which aims to protect the value of the Vietnamese đồng. From this angle, foreign investors see it unfavorable for their capital circulation.
The second problem is access to information. The current law sets down Vietnamese as the official language in information disclosure. Information access for foreign investors is not only about policy but the market updates, especially disclosure of listed companies.
The third matter is regulations on the foreign ownership limit in Vietnamese companies. Việt Nam’s law has specific regulations on foreign ownership limit in the domestic companies, but this ratio differs based on each industry and each type of businesses. Foreign investors are concerned about the holding ratio that they are allowed in each enterprise on the stock market.
In efforts to address these issues, the SSC has implemented a directive which forces big-sized companies to publish information in both Vietnamese and English, facilitating access to updates on policy and markets for foreign investors.
SSC is also actively working with the State Bank of Việt Nam to issue solutions to support companies and ease the movement of capital into and out of the market. The commission is cooperating with the Ministry of Planning and Investment to give out the list of economic categories and business types in which foreign investors can hold the maximum ownership ratio.
The introduction of new products, including derivatives and covered warrants, is considered a step toward upgrading the local stock market status. Can you tell us more about this process?
These new products are new investment channels to attract both foreign and domestic investors. For the derivatives market, the SSC is working to improve the trading system and legal framework at the levels of the commission, stock exchanges and depository centres. SSC is also running a trading connection trial with securities companies.
In addition, the commission has organised many training workshops to introduce new products to market members and investors. Market members then train their clients and investors. This is a new market, so providing knowledge for investors is very important.
How will the market upgrade affect the size of investment funds and the influx of foreign capital into the market?
According to big foreign and domestic banks, the market status will be upgraded when policy and market conditions have improved significantly and the market size and the number of listed companies are expanding. These things are currently taking place, and foreign investor interest is growing. Easier access to information also helps them learn more about the Vietnamese stock market and facilitate their investments.
New products will become new channels to attract their capital. This process will help promote the equitisation process of State-owned enterprises on the stock market as well as the development of the whole market.
What is your opinion on the possibility of Việt Nam’s market upgrade in the future?
The SSC has received positive feedback from the MSCI in terms of policy improvement and the expansion of market size and liquidity. This shows Việt Nam’s reforming efforts are on the right track.
However, for the three market classification organisations, their second concern is the opinions and evaluation of their clients and investors. – VNS