VINH PHUC (VNS)— Joining the TPP was "risky" for Viet Nam, but the country "is capable of handling it", said a National Assembly (NA) high official, hinting at the likelihood of the Pacific-rim nation ratifying the historic trade agreement soon.
The Chairman of NA Committee for Foreign Affairs, Tran Van Hang, made his remarks to the press at a two-day conference which opened in the northern province of Vinh Phuc yesterday. More than 70 deputies gathered to weigh in on the latest reports and insights into the benefits and challenges which the Trans-Pacific Partnership is supposed to deliver to Viet Nam, before the agreement makes it way to the NA for approval.
The conference, held jointly by the NA Committee and USAID Governance for Inclusive Growth (GIG), attracted over 100 participants, including relevant ministry officials, international and local experts, and representatives of the business sectors which TPP will affect.
The upcoming meeting session is intended as the last meeting of the NA's 13th tenure which started on March 21, due to technical problems.
So there is a good chance that the fate of the agreement will fall to the new NA, selected during the general election held in May.
The NA would play a central role in the post-signing work of the TPP, said the United States Ambassador to Viet Nam Ted Osius.
"The NA has to ratify TPP first, then change a number of Vietnamese laws to reflect the commitments made in TPP. That is the big job for the NA," he said. "Implementing TPP won't be easy".
Boost and challenges
Viet Nam and another eleven countries signed the TPP in Auckland, New Zealand on February 2 this year, making Viet Nam a full member of the biggest multilateral free trade zone, together with economic world powers like the US, Japan and Singapore.
Viet Nam will make huge economic gains from TPP, according to studies by the World Bank and independent economic experts. The Southeast Asian nation is projected to have its gross domestic product boosted by 11 per cent. And its exports are projected to increase 28 per cent by 2030, compared to the scenario of Viet Nam not joining TPP.
Many analysts agree that Viet Nam may be the biggest beneficiary nation in the TPP block when an estimated 18,000 tariffs are slashed to zero among the dozen participating countries.
The windows will be wide-open for industries like textiles, apparel, and fisheries. But officials also voiced concerns for sectors with the weakest competitiveness among TPP members, for example, agriculture and husbandry.
Food safety in Viet Nam has long been a headache for officials to tackle. Many fear that the domestic agricultural sector will suffer economic losses in its home territory when cheap, high-quality products flood the Vietnamese market after trade tariffs are abolished.
Industry and Trade Minister Vu Huy Hoang admitted that pressure on Vietnamese farmers was enormous. But "TPP also offers a real opportunity for the sector to raise their quality standards and competitiveness."
The domestic business sector, meanwhile, must brace itself for harsher competition soon.
The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) President Vu Tien Loc said that Vietnamese enterprises must change and scrutinise the possible impact of TPP on their businesses.
"Businesses must also build action plans, while cooperating with other enterprises," he said.
"A two-year span for TPP ratification and implementation is a short time frame. Enterprises must act now, in order to survive."— VNS