Comments on the Draft Amended Law on Science and Technology

Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology recently published and invited comments on an outline version of a new science and technology law (the “Draft Amended Law”) to replace the 2013 Law on Science and Technology (the “2013 Law”). The 2013 Law lacks specific regulations on innovation and has unclear guidelines for the form and classification of science and technology organizations. Overall, it has not fostered the development of high-quality human resources in science, technology and innovation (“ST&I”) or created conditions conducive to investment and financing in ST&I.[1]  Furthermore, and of particular interest to proponents of the Europe – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (“EVFTA”), the domestic legal framework codified by the 2013 Law requires alignment with Vietnam’s commitments in the EVFTA. To overcome these challenges and ensure the effective economic integration of advances in ST&I, the Government has recognized the need to update the 2013 Law. Overall, this proposed legislation is an improvement. If effectively implemented, it will stimulate and advance science, technology, and innovation projects in Vietnam, especially in light of the EVFTA, while also enhancing the practical implementation of science and technology in agricultural practices in particular. We at Duane Morris Vietnam LLC have the following comments on the Draft Amended Law.

First, although the Draft Amended Law broadens the scope of the 2013 Law by adding the word “innovation” to the name, the terms used to expand the regulatory boundaries such as “innovation system,” “national innovation system,” and “innovation activities” are not defined or clearly explained. Although the document is labeled as an outline, unless and until these terms are clarified the Government will need to publish post-promulgation guidelines to clarify what is meant and to harmonize the law with existing guidelines from the 2013 Law.

Second, Chapter II regulates the form and classification of science and technology organizations, clearly delineating between public and non-public entities and distinguishing between “universities with research functions” and “science and technology organizations.” However, such provisions are not comprehensive and are not consistent with regulations promulgated under the 2019 Higher Education Law. The provisions in this chapter also do not address the ongoing privatization of state-owned enterprises or the trend for universities to become financially independent.

Third, the Draft Amended Law introduces provisions exempting science and technology organizations and scientists from civil liability for damage or risks incurred during the execution of tasks due to “objective reasons.” This provision will on the one hand incentivize science and technology organizations to conduct scientific research but on the other hand it may also open the door for abuse. The Government will therefore need to issue specific guidelines to clarify what activities qualify for this exemption.

Fourth, the Draft Amended Law omits the granting of interest-free or low-interest loans within the framework of national funds for science and technology. This change will remove one source of funding for young scientists and certain science and technology organizations, particularly those conducting ST&I projects in the agricultural sector.

On the plus side, the Draft Amended Law enhances intellectual property rights protection as required by Chapter 12 of the EVFTA. The changes strengthen enforcement mechanisms for patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets and will bring the law into alignment with the 2022 amended intellectual property law that was revised to reflect Vietnam’s commitments under the EVFTA.[2]  The Draft Amended Law also addresses the commitment made in Chapter 16 of the EVFTA to enhance the capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises (“SME“). The draft law provides specific definitions, a legal framework and funding mechanisms for ST&I activities conducted by SME. This change both aligns the law with the EVFTA and remedies a significant shortcoming in the 2013 Law.

In conclusion, the Draft Amended Law marks notable advancements in rectifying current deficiencies, particularly in aligning with international standards and Vietnam’s obligations under various bilateral and multilateral agreements.

The author acknowledges the contributions of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC colleagues Oliver Massmann and Nguyen Thu Quynh.

[1] Although Vietnam’s national budgets have prioritized investment in scientific and technological activities, the percentage of investment remains relatively low compared to the rest of the world. Additionally, there are disparities in the allocation of financial resources for scientific and technological activities.

[2] For example, Article 41 of the Draft Amended Law strengthens the ownership and use of scientific research and technological development results in line with the 2022 amended IP Law.

Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann New Decree guiding the Law on Investment What you must know:

On 12 November 2015, after months of delay, the Government has finally issued Decree No. 118/2015/ND-CP (“New Decree”) on detailing and guiding the implementation of certain provisions of the Law on Investment.
Set out below are major worth-noting points in this New Decree:
Investment conditions for foreign investors
Investment conditions for foreign investors are defined as conditions that foreign investors must satisfy when investing in conditional business sectors applicable for foreign investors pursuant to Vietnam’s laws, ordinances, decrees and international treaties on investment.
These conditions include:
– Conditions on foreign ownership of charter capital in an economic organization;
– Conditions on investment form;
– Conditions on scope of investment activities;
– Conditions on a Vietnamese partner participating in investment activities; and
– Other conditions pursuant to laws, ordinances, decrees and international treaties on investment.
The above conditions must be satisfied when foreign investors:
– Making investment to establish an economic organization;
– Contributing capital, purchasing shares, capital contribution portion in an economic organization;
– Investing in the form of business cooperation contract;
– Receiving investment projects transferred from another investor or other cases of receiving transferred investment projects; or
– Amending or supplementing investment business lines or sectors of foreign invested economic organizations.
Conditional business sectors applicable for foreign investors as well as the corresponding conditions are not included in the New Decree but will be published on the National information gate on foreign investment. For business sectors whose conditions are not specified anywhere in Vietnam’s WTO Commitments and other international treaties on investment or not yet committed (“Uncommitted Sectors”), the investment registration authority must seek approval of the Ministry of Planning and Investment and other specialized ministries on the foreign investment.
It is worth noting that the New Decree recognizes ‘licensing precedent’, meaning where foreign investment in Uncommitted Sectors has been approved and such Uncommitted Sectors have been published on the National information gate on foreign investment, any later foreign investors making investment in the same Uncommitted Sectors will no longer need the approval of the specialized managing ministry.
Licensing procedures on investment registration and enterprise registration by foreign investors
Instead of go through 2 different steps, namely (1) applying for issuance of an Investment Registration Certificate; and (2) applying for issuance of an Enterprise Registration Certificate when establishing an enterprise in Vietnam, foreign investors now can apply for these two certificates at the same time. Specifically:
– Foreign investors submit the applications for issuance of an Investment Registration Certificate and an Enterprise Registration Certificate to the investment registration authority;
– Within 01 working day from the receipt of the applications, the investment registration authority sends the application for enterprise establishment registration to the Business Registration authority for review and notifying the investment registration authority of its decision;
– If there is any request for amendments or supplements to either the application for investment registration or enterprise establishment, the investment registration authority will provide the investors a single response within 5 working days from the receipt of the applications.
The coordination regime between the investment registration authority and the business registration authority will be detailed by the Ministry of Planning and Investment later.
Securing the implementation of an investment project
Investors that are granted, or leased land by the Government, or allowed by the Government to change the land use purpose, with certain exceptions, must make a deposit from 1-3% of the total investment capital recorded in a document approving the investment plan or in the Investment Registration Certificate based on a progressive basis, in particular:
– For capital part of up to VND300 billion, the deposit rate is 3%;
– For capital part from VND300 billion to VND1,000 billion, the deposit rate is 2%;
– For capital part from VND1,000 billion, the deposit rate is 1%.
M&A procedures

There is explicitly no requirement of application for Investment Registration Certificate in acquisitions of target companies by foreign investors.
However, foreign investors must register its acquisition of the target company if:
– They contribute capital to, purchase shares or capital contribution portion of an economic organization doing business in conditional sectors which are applicable for foreign investors;
– The capital contribution, shares and capital contribution portion result in F1, F2 and F2’ mentioned in the graph above holding 51% or more of the target company:
o Increasing foreign ownership rate from below 51% to more than 51%; and
o Increasing the existing foreign ownership rate of 51% to a higher ownership rate.
After completion of the acquisition, the target company must carry out procedures to change its members or shareholders at the business registration authority.
For investment of foreign investors other than F1, F2 and F2’, the target company only needs to carry out procedures to change its members or shareholders at the business registration authority without the foreign investors having to register the acquisition transaction with the investment authority.

Please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Massmann under if you have any questions or want to know more details on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Vietnam Foreign Direct Investment

By Oliver Massmann and Manfred Otto – Duane Morris Vietnam LLC

Foreign Direct Investment

A Brief Overview
Vietnam is undergoing fundamental changes to form the basis for its attractiveness and competitiveness in preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the upcoming trade agreements including the EU-Vietnam FTA and the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).
Since July 2015, a number of new laws and regulations governing foreign investment, enterprises, real estate and foreign ownership limits have come into effect. For example, the new Law on Investment and the new Law on Enterprises:
(i) clarify definitions of foreign-invested enterprises;
(ii) facilitate M&A activities;
(iii) reduce the number of prohibited and conditional business sectors;
(iv) reduce statutory business licensing times;
(v) provide more flexibility with regard to corporate governance (such as multiple legal representatives and lower voting thresholds); and
(vi) create more favourable conditions for shareholder lawsuits.
In addition, new laws and regulations affecting foreign ownership of real estate have come into effect. Foreigners can now own apartments and for the first time buy houses. They are now also permitted to sublease and inherit real estate.
With the coming into effect of several international trade agreements and more particularly, the EVFTA, EuroCham members are looking forward to the positive changes that will be implemented and that will further business incentives as well as contribute to Vietnam’s growth.
Vietnam as an attractive FDI destination
In addition to the numerous legal changes, Vietnam has fundamental elements that participate to its continued growth. For instance, Vietnam is in a demographic golden age, with 25% of its 90 million people population between 10 and 24 years old. GDP per capital is increasing drastically as Vietnam has the fastest-growing middle class in South East Asia – (12.9% per annum over the period 2012-2020). Along with a high literacy rate and education levels, comparatively low wages, connectivity and central location within ASEAN, more and more foreign investors choose Vietnam as their hub to service the Mekong region and beyond.
Vietnam’s attractive profile is reflected in its generally welcoming of foreign direct investment (FDI) in manufacturing activities. The gradual opening of most service sectors under Vietnam’s WTO commitments schedule that began in 2007 has been completed in 2015. Domestic law has expanded market access in some sectors beyond those of Vietnam’s WTO commitments. For example, foreign shareholding in public companies that was previously capped at 49% is now generally open for to up 100% foreign ownership. Vietnam also grants investment incentives including tax breaks in areas, such as high-tech, environmental technology, and agriculture, where European businesses are global leaders.
Furthermore, in 2014, Vietnam recorded $21.92 billion in FDI with a total of 1843 investment licenses for foreign invested projects with a registered capital of $16.5 billion, representing a 14% increase from the previous year. Among the foreign investors, the EU is an increasingly important source of FDI for Vietnam as ‘according to the Foreign Investment Agency of the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and investment, investors from 23 out of 28 Member States of the EU injected a total committed FDI worth US$19.1 billion into 1566 projects over the course of the past 25 years (by 15 December 2014)’. With this strong activity, in 2014, the EU positioned itself as fifth in the top FDI partners of Vietnam with a combined committed FDI of US$587.1 million.

Source: ‘Vietnam’s logistics market: Exploring the opportunities, Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC)

In addition to FDI, the EU-Vietnam’s strong trade relationship can be seen through programmes like the Multilateral Trade Assistance Project (MUTRAP) which accounts for over €35.12 billion. MUTRAP has been instrumental in supporting Vietnam’s negotiating efforts during the WTO accession process and now continues to assist Vietnam in the implementation of trade commitments. In terms of trade, both the EU and Vietnamese businesses are expected to benefit under the EVFTA. The FTA will gradually eliminate tariffs for over 99% of goods and services besides other mechanisms to support bilateral trade. On 4 August 2015, the EU and Vietnam reached an agreement in principle for the free trade deal, an agreement that will also attract further FDI into the country.
Vietnam’s top trading partners 2013
Finally, the EU’s strong commitment to support Vietnam in its modernisation and integration in the world economy is mirrored by the aid programmes. In line with Vietnam’s 2020 socio-economic plan, the EU has increased its aid by 30 % reaching 400 million euros via its multi-annual indicative programme for the period of 2014-2020 focusing on the development of clean energy in Vietnam.

Further improvements necessary
It is clear that Vietnam’s development and its attractiveness to foreign investors are undeniable as Vietnam is constantly improving its business environment.
However, as of this writing, guiding regulations for many new laws have still not been published, and investors are experiencing delays in the processing of applications. We expect processing times to improve once the new implementing regulations come into effect and officials get accustomed to the changes.
Another issue that has been highlighted by our members is that many foreign investors still face significant challenges when dealing with Vietnam’s bureaucracy. Tax filing, customs clearance, business registration and licensing, and other administrative procedures are often delayed, outcomes can be unpredictable, and businesses find themselves spending resources on administration that they would prefer to invest in expanding their core activities.
Despite remaining hurdles, the national government of Vietnam has expressed an understanding of the issues surrounding foreign investment. Providing foreign investors increased access to its market, the stream of FDI is expected to continue. For many foreign investors the positive economic development of the country and its fundamentals substantially outweigh potential risks.
In this light, EuroCham wishes to present the key issues that our members face in their activity in Vietnam along with some key recommendations. EuroCham hopes to engage in a constructive dialogue and increasing cooperation with the relevant authorities on all the issues presented in this edition in order to improve the business environment for all enterprises in Vietnam and contribute to the country’s fast modernisation.


1‘Vietnam; from golden age to golden oldies’, UK FOC, 07/01/15. Available at
2‘Report revises 2014 FDI figures’ Viet Nam News, 18/03/15. Available at
3‘Investment -EU-Vietnam economic and trade relations’, Delegation to the European Union to Vietnam, 2015. Available at
4‘Vietnam’s logistics market: Exploring the opportunities, Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), 20/01/15. Available at
5‘Trade – EU-Vietnam economic and trade relations’, Delegation to the European Union to Vietnam, 2015. Available at
6‘European Union, Trade in goods with Vietnam’, European Commission DG Trade, 10/04/15, p.9. Available at
7‘Development Cooperation’, Delegation to the European Union to Vietnam, 2015. Available at

Continue reading “Vietnam Foreign Direct Investment”

Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann New Vietnam investment law won’t help public sector

“As only a minority of the shares is offered for sale, the investors are not quite interested.” Oliver Massmann, General Director, Duane Morris Vietnam LLC
A new investment law that took effect in July is likely to keep investment flowing to Vietnam’s private sector but won’t help Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung achieve this year’s target for selling minority stakes in several hundred public-sector firms.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s push to sell minority stakes and reduce bloat in nearly 300 Vietnamese state-owned firms by the end of the year is unlikely to be successful despite recent reforms in business laws implemented in July that make it easier for foreign investors to acquire companies.
“This seems to be an ambitious target as the number of privatized enterprises is only 61 in the first six months of 2015,” Oliver Massmann, general director at the Hanoi office of corporate law firm Duane Morris LLP, tells MGO via email. “Moreover, as only a minority of the shares is offered for sale, the investors are not quite interested in the transaction, especially when they would not have any decision-making power or their involvement in the management of the enterprise is very limited.”
Public sector firms account for 30 percent of Vietnam’s GDP, and the country has been seeking to privatize and restructure them in order to reduce their debt, confine spending to core business activities, and help them acquire strategic foreign partnerships. According to a piece Mr. Massmann wrote for industry magazine The Asia Miner last year, state enterprises own 70 percent of property in Vietnam and account for 60 percent of commercial bank credit.
But despite initiating the process of restructuring and reforming public firms several years ago, Vietnam has been unable so far to address a number of factors that are hampering the divestment process.
Vietnam law continues to cap foreign ownership at 49 percent in listed firms, which many public sector enterprises are. And in most cases Vietnam is not selling stakes anywhere near the 49 percent limit — or even large enough to give investors decision-blocking powers.
In addition, it remains difficult for investors to value the shares that are being offered, given the lack of adequate audit reports. As a result, the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance is carrying out valuations of each firm. As recently as last month, Asian Development Bank’s chief economist Aaron Batten noted that only 8 percent of state firms publish financial reports on their websites, according to a report in the English-language daily Viet Nam News.
Due to these unresolved factors, Vietnam also fell short of its disinvestment target in 2014. Now, with stock markets in the region wobbly, public sector firms are likely to have an even harder time than they did last year, when as many as 143 firms were able to privatize some shares, according to Vietnamese media reports.
Mr. Massmann clarified, however, that the lack of investor interest in public enterprises comes against the backdrop of an improved overall investment and business climate in the country.
The 2014 Investment Law, which went into effect July 1, does away with something called an investment certificate, a business registration for foreign investors that was supposed to be approved in 45 days but in practice took four to six months to process, according to Mr. Massmann’s firm.
The law has also reduced the number of “conditional” business activities, areas of the economy in which investors have to seek approval with provincial planning departments. Construction, urban planning and education continue to remain conditional activities, but even in these sectors, acquisitions should become much easier, business analysts say.
Meanwhile, earlier tax law changes have also drastically cut the hours businesses spend on tax preparation and filing,
Vietnam has made “positive changes to improve the business environment and strengthen the economy’s ability to compete in 2015 and 2016,” Mr. Massmann tells MGO.
The apparel and textile manufacturing sector has drawn a large share of investment this year and is likely to continue to do so. Seafood processing, electronics manufacturing and retail and banking are also likely to attract investment into next year.
Mr. Massmann also foresees that the government will try to make investing in state firms more attractive by increasing the share of equity for sale, something that has so far been resisted by the management of many state firms, who perhaps fear that equity shares that allow for closer scrutiny of corporate governance could expose poor management or even corruption.


Please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Oliver Massmann under if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.


近年、ベトナムでフランスチーズの有名な製造業者のベル ベトナムは投資資本金を総額17億ドルでビンズオン省に新たな工場の建設を始めました。

Anwalt in Vietnam Oliver Massmann Häfen und Schifffahrt

Mit der Adaption der Transpazifischen Partnerschaft (TPP) und dem Freihandelsabkommen zwischen Vietnam und der EU (EVFTA) in den nächsten Monaten, erwarten wir eine signifikante Steigerung des Handels zwischen Vietnam und den anderen unterzeichnenden Ländern. Um die vielen Vorzüge nutzen zu können, die durch diese Vereinbarungen erwartet werden, ist es wichtig einen internationalen Containerhafen einzurichten. Der Hafen in Cai Mep würde sich für diese Zwecke eignen, sowohl national als auch international ein Knotenpunkt zu sein und somit ein Gleichgewicht zwischen Nachfrage und Angebot an Containerschiffen in Vietnam herzustellen. Um die Entwicklung von Cai Mep als Knotenpunkt zu stärken, wurde ein Vertrag zwischen CMIT und dem Saigon Newport unterzeichnet.

Es muss jedoch noch mehr von Seiten der Regierung getan werden. Es muss ein wettbewerbsfähiges Umfeld für den Containerhafen hergestellt werden. Damit dies erreicht werden kann, werden die folgenden Maßnahmen vorgeschlagen.

Zuerst, die Gebühren für übergroße Frachtschiffe reduzieren. Die Konsequenz daraus wäre, dass diese Schiffe nicht mehr in Singapur oder Hong Kong Zwischenhalten müssen, dies würde ca. 7 Mio. US$ an Transportkosten einsparen.

Zweitens, die Regularien für die Küstenschifffahrt auflockern. Das momentane örtliche Leistungsangebot geht nicht konform mit den internationalen Standards. Dies sollte behoben werden, damit die Errichtung des Knotenpunktes Cai Mep nicht behindert wird.

Drittens, die Zollbestimmungen reformieren. Das vietnamesische Hauptzollamt, mit beratender Unterstützung vom vietnamesischen Handelserleichterung Alliance und in Zusammenarbeit mit der amerikanischen Handelskammer, versucht die Ein-und Ausfuhrbestimmungen zu verbessern. Das wird als Schritt in die richtige Richtung angesehen um Vietnam wettbewerbsfähig gegenüber den anderen ASEAN Staaten zu machen.

Und letztlich, es sollte mehr Interaktion zwischen den zuständigen Behörden und den Transport/Logistik Interessenvertretern geben. Das letzte „Transport und Logistik Partner“- Meeting, welches vom Verkehrsministerium zusammen mit der Welt Bank veranstaltet wurde, um einen Dialog herzustellen, ist eines der Projekte der vietnamesischen Regierung bei dem Probleme ausgetauscht werden und durchführbare Lösungen für Vietnams Industrie überlegt werden.

Wenn das soeben geschilderte realisiert wird, dann gibt es eine realistische Chance für Cai Mep der neue Knotenpunkt zu werden und Vietnam würde einige Vorteile davon haben, u.a. diese:
• Weniger Luftverschmutzung in Ho Chi Minh Stadt als Resultat der Umleitung der Transporter, die von Ho Chi Minh Stadt nach Cai Mep umgeleitet werden würden,
• Weniger Verkehr und eine kleineres Risiko der Überlastung des Hafens, dank der großen Kapazität der Region Cai Mep, und
• Die Vorteile von TPP und EVFTA gewinnbringend nutzen.


Bitte zögern Sie nicht und kontaktieren Herrn Massmann unter falls Sie Fragen zu dem oben gelesenen haben sollten.

Horse Race Betting in Vietnam: Don’t Back the Wrong Horse

Investors wishing to invest in horse race betting projects in Vietnam may find themselves in dead end if they do not equip themselves with the appropriate tools to tackle legal challenges in this emerging market

Even though horse race betting was allowed in two pilot projects in Phu Tho (1998) and Vung Tau (2000), there has been no concrete legal framework in place to address the licensing and operation of the horse race betting projects.

In 2010, the Government of Vietnam decided to draft a decree, which is the most superior executive regulation, to formally legalize horse race betting in Vietnam and provide criteria for businesses to invest and operate in this field. This is an effort of the government to maintain the balance between the economic benefits of these hugely profitable businesses and the need to have sufficient governmental control to eliminate the “social evils” which may associate with these projects. The Standing Committee of the National Assembly, which is the legislative body of Vietnam, approved the general policy of this decree; however, the Standing Committee also asked for an empirical study on the pros and cons of horse race betting, together with other forms of betting such as soccer or greyhound race betting. In a recent regular session of the Government in 2015, the Prime Minister instructed the Ministry of Finance to continue working on the draft, based on recommendations from other branches and the National Assembly. There has been no time limit fixed for the issuance of this decree. One of the reasons why there has been significant delay was because of the ambitious target of this decree, which aims to govern not only horse race and greyhound race betting but also soccer betting. Soccer betting has been a sensitive topic in Vietnam and there is a wide prejudice that it associates with crimes, bankruptcy, sports cheats, and money laundering. To speed up the process, the government is considering separating soccer betting from this regulation and focusing on horse and greyhound race betting only.

Even though the latest draft of the decree is not final, investors can find some helpful guidelines for their future investments in horse race betting in Vietnam. In particular, the draft proposes that an entity can only do horse betting once they have received an investment certificate (which, for a foreign invested company also serves as a certificate of incorporation) and a certificate for satisfaction of business conditions. The Prime Minister will decide the issuance of the investment certificate and such certificate will only be granted for horse race betting projects with minimum investment capital of 1 thousand billion Vietnamese Dongs, or equivalent to 459 million United States Dollars. The project must be put into operation within four years from the date of issuance of the investment certificate. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance will grant the certificate for satisfaction of business conditions to entities with adequate financial resources, business plans and an appropriate betting and racing bylaws.

While the decree allows Vietnamese players to participate, it limits the maximum bet to one million VND (or less than fifty USD) a day and provides that the minimum bet is ten thousand VND (or less than fifty cents). There should be no more than three races in a week at each location. The minimum rebate shall be 65% of the revenues from selling wagering tickets. In terms of labor, the jockeys must be employees of the horse race operators.

While it remains unknown whether the decree on horse race betting will be issued, investors should not play the “wait and see” game. Instead, they should be proactive in approaching the government authorities for specific guidelines and having a thorough legal strategy to deal with the known and unknown regulatory obstacles. They may also consider setting up a small entity to carry out a pilot project, which is generally subject to lower regulatory thresholds than a regular project, to test the water and set up the basic infrastructure necessary for future investments. These plans cannot be successful if the investors do not have proper legal and financial advice.

The horse race betting market in Vietnam is a difficult race to thrive in and only the most well prepared investors can reap the huge rewards.


Please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Oliver Massmann under if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Thank you very much!

Vietnam – Latest on Seaports and Shipping – Logistics is Everything

With the adoption of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and the European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (“EVFTA”) in the upcoming months, we would expect a significant increase in trade between Vietnam and countries being members of the mentioned agreements. In order to reap the huge benefits that these agreement might bring to Vietnam, it is necessary to create an efficient deep sea container terminal. Cai Mep port would be fit for such purpose, in terms of a potential domestic and international transhipment hub and creating balance for demand and supply container terminal in Southern Vietnam. An operating cooperation contract has been signed between CMIT and Saigon Newport as the first attempt to develop Cai Mep as a hub.
Still, there should be more to do from the Government’s side. A competitive environment for the operation of the container terminal must be created. To achieve this objective, we suggest the following actions:
First, reducing port dues for certain sizes of vessels. As a consequence, a greater number of vessels will no longer have to transit via existing hubs such as Hong Kong or Singapore. An estimate of USD 7 million per year in transport costs would be saved and the overall income of the country will increase.
Second, relaxing regulations on cabotage. The current local services on offer do not comply with the required standards. This should be fixed so it is not blocking the progress of creating a hub in Cai Mep.
Third, reforming customs rules. The Vietnam General Department of Customs with the advisory support of the Vietnam Trade Facilitation Alliance in conjunction with the American Chamber of Commerce is currently making great attempts in improving imports and exports procedures. This is also considered as a step towards a competitive environment compared with other ASEAN countries.
Finally, more interaction between the competent authorities and the transport/ logistics stakeholders. The recent Transport and Logistics Partner Quarterly Meeting held by the Ministry of Transport in conjunction with the World Bank is among the government’s efforts to help create a dialogue to exchange problems and workable solutions in the logistics industry of Vietnam.
If the above suggestions are taken seriously, Cai Mep will become a hub and Vietnam would certainly enjoy lots of benefits, include, among others:
o Less pollution for Ho Chi Minh City as a result of truck flow diversion from Ho Chi Minh City to Cai Mep;
o Less traffic and less risk of port congestion thanks to large capacity in Cai Mep region; and
o Capitalizing on the opportunities from the TPP and the EVFTA.

Please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Massmann under if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.



Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann Online Gaming and Gambling in Vietnam

Technically, “online gaming” [business] in Vietnam may cover: (i) “online game”, a game played over some form of computer network;[1] or (ii) “online gambling”, a term for gambling using the Internet.

In the latter case, Vietnamese law does not treat online gambling as a full-fledged, independent and separate branch of gambling industry.[2] Rather it deals with major branches of gambling activities which are (i) lottery; (ii) casino/prized electronic machines; (iii) horse and greyhound race and (iv) sports betting,[3] etc. and sets forth specific conditions and restrictions on the same. Except for online lottery, other forms of gambling using Internet-based have been so far strictly prohibited or at least not officially permitted.

It also bears noting that market access to such gambling branches varies by investment forms, legal entity of the investors and capacity thereof, etc. For example, while lottery business is solely reserved for State owned enterprises, foreign investment in casinos is permissible. By the same token, depending on characteristics of specific gambling business, the scope of activities can be either limited to a specific approved location in a major city of Vietnam (e.g. – dog/greyhound race or traditional lottery) or nationwide (online lottery).

As gambling is a sensitive activity which requires a high level of surveillance, a gambling investor must essentially follow a general principle of “doing exactly what your license states”. To make it clearer, if an investor is permitted to open a casino at a specific resort only, it will not have the natural right to offer casino products through the Internet. Similarly, besides 63 State-owned lottery enterprises in each province, a lottery corporation was established in 2013 (i.e. – Vietlott) to offer online lottery lotto games, digits games and fast drawing games nationwide. However, it can be broadly argued, though not absolutely guaranteed, that if an investor is licensed to carry out a specific [and conventional] “gambling” activities, it may have a good position to apply for the same business but operated on an Internet-based platform.[4]

Generally, an investment project in gambling must be first granted with an investment certificate issued by the people’s committee at provincial level. For such purposes, the investors must obtain in-principal of the Prime Minister on an ad-hoc basis. In fact, the Ministry of Finance (the “MOF”) is expected to play a crucial role in deciding whether a Project will be accepted. Subsequently, the project’s owner may have to obtain a special business license from the MOF upon its fulfilment of post-establishment conditions (i.e. – completion of construction works, installment of equipment and facilities, etc.).

In principle, gambling, other than lottery and betting at licensed sport center(s), is strictly prohibited in Vietnam and individuals involved in gambling activities may face criminal charge. Vietnamese law on gambling business is therefore still in its infantry stage though initial ideas date back to early 2000s. Gambling licenses have granted to selected investors mainly on a piloting scheme and with strict requirements (i.e. – not letting Vietnamese nationals in). Draft laws on sport betting, casinos, which serve as key guidance on gambling business, have been discussed from time to time but not yet been issued.

In late 2013, two major draft decrees on gambling activities (i.e. – betting[5] and casinos), content of which is not made public, were submitted by the Ministry of Finance, as the draftsperson, to the National Assembly of Vietnam for the latter opinions. It appears however that little progress has been since made due to conflicting opinions among the Government and divisions belonging to the National Assembly on these sensitive issues.[6]

To date, Vietnam has 01 national online lottery company (i.e. – Vietlott) and 63 [traditional] lottery companies operating at provincial level. 07 casino licenses have been granted to investors as a part of their resort complexes but only 6 of which have commenced their operations. A number of 5-star hotels in major cities of Vietnam are permitted to run prized electronic machines. The only house race ground which was open to public was closed in 2013. Another greyhound race ground is still active in Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province, Vietnam.

In light of the above, a foreign investor wishing to invest in this sector may consider different channels to access Vietnam online gaming market. For example, it may cooperate with licensed vendors in Vietnam as a supplier of equipment, machinery or materials or provider of technical assistance services relating to the same.[7] Or else, it may actively approach the MOF to initiate a proposed plan.

Please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Massmann under if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.



Investing in Geothermal Power Project in Vietnam


The geothermal energy in Vietnam has great potential, up to date, the researched have showed that Vietnam has more than 200 sources of hot water at temperatures of 40-100 degrees centigrade that provides this Southeast Asian country necessary basis for developing prospective geothermal energy projects. However the geothermal energy industry of Vietnam is still under-developed, and mostly remains at the researching stage.

Continue reading “Investing in Geothermal Power Project in Vietnam”

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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