With or without TPP, Vietnam still improves business environment




Several Vietnamese leaders have said whether the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement materializes or not, Vietnam will continue improving its business environment to support enterprises. Besides, the country will proceed with other free trade agreements (FTAs) to create opportunities for companies to fuel economic growth. 

Donald Trump, who opposes the TPP trade pact, has won the U.S. presidential election, and many experts said the Republican victory will put an end to this trade agreement. 

Meanwhile, some said things remain unclear now as U.S. businesses will act to back the ratification of the trade deal.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh told Vietnam Summit 2016 in HCMC early this month that with Vietnam’s signing of the TPP agreement, the nation wants to tighten trade ties with Asia Pacific countries and create more business opportunities.  

Therefore, Vietnam looks forwards to the ratification of the trade deal by all member countries, including the U.S. Minh said if the TPP is not passed due to any reasons, this is considered as a setback as countries had spent much time and effort on the negotiation process. However, he noted, besides the TPP, Vietnam has concluded FTAs with many other partners like the European Union (EU) and the Eurasia Economic Union.

Vietnam and other ASEAN nations are preparing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership FTA. In addition, members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum are negotiating a FTA in the region.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai told Vietnam Summit 2016 that 10 FTAs to which Vietnam is a signatory had come into force. One FTA will become effective in the coming time and several others are on the negotiating table.

The TPP will help form a free trade region that accounts for 40% of the world’s economy. Hai however stressed that with or without the trade deal, Vietnam’s economic policy towards international integration will remain unchanged. Hai said before negotiating the TPP, Vietnam had taken part in multilateral organizations such as the World Trade Organization. Vietnam’s business environment has been improved and the nation has stepped up investment restructuring, encouraged the private sector and strengthened management of public debt to pursue sustainable growth.

Michael Behrens, chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, told local media late last month that whether the TPP trade agreement is passed or not is unclear so businesses should pay attention to the Vietnam-EU FTA that will take effect at the end of next year. He added Vietnam’s exports to the EU are forecast to rise by 50% thanks to the FTA and the EU will gain the same growth in its exports to Vietnam.

Speaking at Vietnam Summit 2016, Andrew Staples, director of the Economist Corporate Network in ASEAN, said the global economy has performed better than it did last year and Vietnam would benefit from this. However, he said investment in the local textile-garment sector has risen sharply as investors wait for opportunities created by the TPP. Therefore, if its ratification is delayed, investor confidence will be deteriorated.