Category Archives: Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a treaty currently under negotiations between 12 Asian and North and South American countries.

Plenty of life in Vietnam’s M&A market despite bumps

Globally, 2017 has been an unpredictable year for the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market, with the hangover of political and economic instability from 2016 inspiring caution among investors.

 

Foreign investment has been put on the back foot due to rising protectionism and the failure of promising free trade deals like the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). Vietnam in particular has suffered and will need some big breakthroughs to regain lost momentum.

 

Although the TPP would have brought some big benefits to Vietnam, it is expected that other trade deals on the horizon will make up most of the shortfall. The nation has joined six regional FTAs as an ASEAN member, including the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and the five FTAs between ASEAN and China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand, as well as four bilateral FTAs with Chile, Japan, South Korea and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). Negotiations over an FTA with the European Union (EU) have also been concluded.

 Sluggish start

 

Whereas 2016 was an exciting year for M&A in Vietnam, 2017 has gotten off to a slower start. According to a report released in advance of the M&A Forum (August 10, HCMC), deals in Vietnam hit an all-time record of US$5.8 billion in 2016, a growth of 11.92 percent compared to 2015. However, the market has slumped since the latter half of last year with fewer headline signings. The total value of M&A activity reached just US$1.1 billion in the first quarter, a drop of 24.4 percent year-on-year.

Continue reading Plenty of life in Vietnam’s M&A market despite bumps

日本政府によるTPP詳細の発表 ~ ベトナム、関税撤廃及び外資小売規制を緩和 ~

関税撤廃や投資家と国の間の紛争解決(ISDS)のための手続に加え、環太平洋経済連携協定(TPP)の自由貿易協定のもとでベトナムの注目部分は、経済的ニーズ考査(ENT)の廃止、電気通信業などの規制分野において外資出資比率の緩和、また関税手続の改良が含まれている点です。

TPPの正式文はまだ公表されていません(最終版はまだできていないと思われるため)が、日本政府は最近協定の鍵となるいくつかの要素を明らかにしました。面白いことに、政府はまだ全ての詳細が含まれた最終版ではない「包括的合意」として2015年10月5日にアトランタで合意した条約について言及しています。以下の情報は他国のニュースではそれほど報道されていなく、以下のプレゼンテーションを含む日本政府の情報源を基にしています。

http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/tpp/pdf/2015/12/151020_tpp_setsumeikai_siryou01-1.pdf

1.取引品目の95%関税撤廃

TPPは非常に高レベルの自由化となります。多くの農産物や99.9%の工業製品(例えば、自動車、自動車部品、電子機器、化学製品など)に対する関税が撤廃されます。多くの品目(例えば、ぶどう、キウイフルーツ、ニシン、海老、蟹、キハダマグロ、哺乳豚、小豆、卵のような農産物)に対する関税はTPPが施行されると直ちに廃止されます。一方、いくつかの品目(例えば、オレンジジュース、たばこ、ワインやベニヤ板など)に対する関税はそのままとなり協定発行の3年目から16年目の間にそれぞれ関税撤廃されます。

特定の品目に対して加盟国は輸入割当(例えば日本の米など)を定めることができ、国は国内製品を保護する為に一時緊急措置(いわゆる「セーフガード措置」)を施行することが可能です。

2.一般的取引また投資促進

TPPは他の加盟国でのビジネスや競争また投資をし易くする共通の規則を提供しています。いくつかの一般的な規制には以下が含まれます。

  • 迅速通関(通常通関は48時間以内にそして急送貨物用の「6時間以内」のルール)
  • 知的財産(偽造品)に対する厳格な規律とロイヤリティ率規制の禁止
  • 技術移転、ローカルコンテンツ、投資家のソースコードへのアクセスの要求禁止
  • 短期出張者やその家族へのビザ免除(アメリカとシンガポールを除く)
  • 加盟国入札者へ国内一般調達の公開
  • デジタルコンテンツへの輸入課税禁止と電子商取引に関する一般的な規則
  • TPPにより利益を得る為の中小企業の支援
  • 環境及び乱獲保護措置

3.ベトナムに適用される規則の例

(a) ベトナムはENTを廃止

ベトナムはTPP協定の発行日から5年後にENTの廃止を約束しています。(発行のためには、全ての初期加盟国のGDPの最低85%を占める少なくても6カ国の加盟国がその協定の署名後2年以内に協定を国内法上で承認しなければなりません。)外国の小売業者は、新興中流階級や可処分所得の急増しているベトナムに市場に対し非常に興味を示しています。

ENTは現在、外資系小売事業者(スーパーマーケット、モール、コンビニを含む)に対し2店舗目以降の新店舗開設のためにはライセンス手続きを受けることを必要としています。これが長い間に市場介入への障害とみられています。

(b) ベトナムの電気通信業、地場銀行や娯楽サービスへの外資出資比率規制の緩和

電子通信事業の外資出資比率は最大65%までに規制されていましたが、TPPのもとで外国人投資家は75%までの出資が可能となります。また、地場銀行や映画館、ライブハウス等の娯楽サービスへの外資出資比率も上昇することが予定されています。

(c) 輸出税の禁止及び通関手続きの透明性

ベトナムでは原則として鉱物資源等の項目で新たな輸出関税を新設すること、または維持することが禁じられています。ベトナムは、新しい関税規則を施行する最低60日前にそれを公表し、同様に60日以内に加盟国からの合理的な質問に返答する努力する必要があります。

さらに、TPPは原則としてに全てのTPP加盟国の原産地規則の商品別に統一しています。生産者、輸出者または輸入者が自ら現地証明書を作成する制度を導入します。電子的手続が奨励されます。

4.投資家と国との間の紛争解決メカニズム

加盟国の投資家はベトナム国外での国際仲裁手続を利用し、ベトナム政府に対し法的措置を要請できることになります。

投資紛争解決国際センター(ICSID)、国連国際商取引法委員会(UNCITRAL)、国際商業会議所(ICC)または他の仲裁規則を適応することができますが、TPPのISDS規定には以下の基本的規則が置かれています。

  • 仲裁廷は事例の判断を下す前に、まず訴えが仲裁廷の管轄内であるか決定し、また被申立国による異議等に返答しなければならない。
  • 非公開手続が好まれる民間仲裁とは異なり、原則として全てのISDS仲裁判断内容は公開されなければならない。
  • ISDS申立て期間を一定の期間に制限する。

しかし、TPPは正当な公共目的を主張し、国家の規制措置の採用を妨げられない様子です。過去に、ベトナムの裁判所はよく公共目的に類似した「ベトナム法の基本的な原則」に相違するとして外国仲裁判断の承認及び執行を拒否しました。従って、ベトナムに対するTPPのISDS判断が今後ベトナムでどのくらい執行されるかは未だ不明です。

上記の情報はTPPの正式文ではなく政府の二次情報源をもとにしております。正式な法的文書の確認後に相違点が現れる可能性もございます。今後も情報を更新するように努力いたします。ご質問等ございましたらお気軽にご連絡ください。

詳細につきましては、オットー マンフレッド 倉雄またはjapanese@duanemorris.comまでお願い致します。

〈ご注意〉こちらの記事は皆様に情報をお届けする目的でのみ作成・掲載しておりますので、法的なアドバイスとして提供・構成することを目的としておりません。詳細につきましては、当法律事務所の注意書きをご一読下さい。

Japan Releases TPP Details – Vietnam to Abolish Tariffs and Economic Needs Test

Besides abolishing tariffs and providing for investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), some of Vietnam’s highlights under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact include removing the dreaded economic needs test (ENT), raising foreign ownership caps in restricted sectors such as telecoms, and improving custom procedures.

Although the actual text of the TPP has not been published (because the final version is not available yet), the Japanese government has recently disclosed key elements of the pact. Interestingly, the government refers to the agreement that was reached on 5 October 2015 in Atlanta as a “broad agreement,” implying that it may not be the final version including all the details yet. The following information that may not have been as broadly reported in other international news is based on Japanese government sources, including the following presentation (in Japanese):

http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/tpp/pdf/2015/12/151020_tpp_setsumeikai_siryou01-1.pdf

1. Abolishing tariffs for 95% of all traded items

The TPP has a very high liberalization rate. Tariffs for many agricultural products and 99.9% of industrial products (e.g., cars, auto parts, electronics, chemicals) will be abolished. Tariffs for many items will be lifted immediately once the TPP comes into effect (e.g., agricultural products such as grapes, kiwifruits, herring, prawns, crab, yellowfin tuna, suckling pig, red beans, eggs.). On the other hand, tariffs for some items will remain and will end in the 3rd to 16th year of the pact (e.g., orange juice, cigarettes, wine, plywood).

For specific items member countries can set import quotas (e.g., rice in Japan), and countries can implement temporary emergency measures (so-called “safeguards”) to protect domestic production.

2. General trade and investment facilitation

The TPP provides common rules to facilitate doing business, competition and investing in other member countries. Some general rules include:

  • 6-hour rule for express custom clearance (standard clearance within 48 hours).
  • Stricter rules on intellectual property (counterfeits) and prohibition on royalty rate restrictions.
  • General prohibition on demanding technology transfer, local contents, or access to source code from an investor.
  • Visa waivers for short-term business travelers and their families (except for United States and Singapore).
  • Opening domestic public procurement to member state bidders.
  • Prohibition on levying import duties on digital contents and general rules on e-commerce.
  • Support for small and medium-sized enterprises to benefit from TPP.
  • Environmental and over-fishing protection measures.

3. Examples of rules specifically applicable to Vietnam

(a) Vietnam to scrap the economic needs test

Vietnam commits to abolish the ENT after a period of 5 years from the issuing date of the TPP agreement. (At least 6 member countries respresenting at least 85% of the GDP of all initial members must ratify the pact within 2 years before it can be issued.) Foreign retailers are very interested in this market with an emerging middle class and surging disposable income.

The ENT currently requires foreign investors in the retail sector (including supermarkets, malls, and convenience stores) to undergo licensing procedures for each new outlet they intend to open beyond the first one. This has long been seen as a barrier to market access.

(b) Vietnam to ease foreign investment caps on telecoms, local banks, and entertainment services

Currently limited to a maximum of 65% foreign ownership, under the TPP foreign investors will be allowed to own up to 75% stakes in telecommunication businesses in Vietnam. Foreign ownership caps are also slated to be raised for local banks and entertainment services, such as theaters and music clubs.

(c) Prohibition of export duties and custom procedure transparency

Vietnam will generally not be allowed to impose new export tariffs or maintain the same on items such as on mineral resources. Vietnam will also be obliged to use best efforts to announce new custom regulations at least 60 days before they come into effect and to respond to reasonable questions from member states within 60 days as well.

In addition, the TPP generally provides for product-specific rules of origin applicable to all TPP member countries. Producers, exporters and importers will be allowed to issue certificates of origin themselves. E-custom filing is encouraged.

4. Investor-state dispute settlement mechanism

Investors from member states will be able to bring legal action against the Vietnamese government using international arbitration tribunals outside of Vietnam.

The ICSID, UNCITRAL, ICC or other arbitration rules can be applied, but the TPP’s ISDS provisions set forth a few basic rules:

  • Before the arbitration tribunal can rule on the merits of a case, it must first decide on whether it has jurisdiction and respond to the responding party’s objections.
  • Unlike in private arbitration where secrecy is considered a plus, all ISDS arbitral decisions must generally be published.
  • Statutes of limitations for bringing ISDS actions.

However, apparently, the TPP cannot prohibit countries from implementing restrictive measures based on justifiable public policy grounds. In the past, Vietnamese courts have often declined the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards on the ground of contradicting ‘fundamental principles of Vietnamese law’ which is similar to the public policy argument. Accordingly, how frequently TPP ISDS awards against Vietnam will be enforced in Vietnam in the future is still uncertain.

 

Again, the above information is not based on the actual text of the TPP but secondary governmental sources. A review of the actual legal text may reveal discrepancies. We will keep you updated on interesting developments and look forward to receiving your comments.

Please contact  Manfred Otto for more information or japanese@duanemorris.com inquiries in Japanese.

Disclaimer: This post has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. Each case should be analyzed individually with the support of competent legal counsel. For more information, please see the firm’s full disclaimer.

 

Coming Soon: New E-Bidding System and Regulations in Vietnam to Boost Public Procurement

By Giles T. Cooper, Trinh Nguyen Thi Tu and Manfred Otto, Duane Morris Vietnam LLC

Contractors will soon be able to benefit from electronic bidding in Vietnam. The Vietnamese Government has issued the new Law on Bidding promising great changes to the bidding process for public investment projects, including public-private partnership (PPP) projects.  The Ministry of Planning (MPI) and Development and the Ministry of Finance are scheduled to jointly issue a new circular on e-bidding process in February 2015 that is likely to affect both Vietnamese and foreign contractors.

Under the new draft, e-bidding will be compulsory for a broad range of public procurement activities. Projects may include consulting services, goods procurement and construction. (See excerpt at the end of this article for more information.)

The new e-bidding are expected to bring many advantages for contractors, especially foreign contractors. The system itself costs USD3.3 million to develop and is based on Korea’s successful web-based procurement System – KONEPS. This means that Vietnam will soon have a world-class e-bidding system in place.

No longer a Pilot Program

Vietnam has had a pilot e-bidding system for many years. The new circular on e-bidding will replace MPI’s Circular No. 17/2010/TT-BKH dated 22 July 2010 on a pilot program for online bidding. The new circular on e-bidding will replace the circular on pilot E-bidding.

MPI officials have announced that State agencies and contractors have successfully cooperated in more than 1,000 pilot e-bidding projects and gained much experience under the pilot program. So, the new e-bidding circular and system is based on such experience as well as learning from other countries.

Key Benefits:

  1. E-bidding helps saving time and money
  • By replacing the paper-based system, costs for paper, photocopying and postage will be saved;
  • Contractors, especially foreign ones, do not need to spend money on travel fees to buy tender invitation documents, submit tender documents by hand in remote provinces, because all will be done online. E-documents and e-signatures will have legal validity, and foreign contractors will be able to save time and money spent on signing, legalizing and sending documents to Vietnam; and
  • According to the draft circular, contractors only have to pay VND550,000 to register their participation in the system and a VND550,000 annual fee to maintain their names and data in the system.
  1. Reduce corruption in government process
  • Less chances for bureaucrats to abuse their power due to a reduction of face-to-face interaction;
  • Fewer “unofficial ways” to procure contracts, as the e-bidding system will control the procedure; and
  • Fairer competition for all contractors through more transparency.
  1. Valuable source of information and opportunities to introduce contractors’ profiles
  • Easy access to information about thousands of projects that will be available on the official website;
  • Information about contractors will be available to other contractors to learn about their competition;
  • Contractors’ profiles can be introduced to other parties calling for tenders and increase opportunities;
  • All information can be updated easily; and
  • Contractors posting wrong information can be penalized.

Who can bid? Continue reading Coming Soon: New E-Bidding System and Regulations in Vietnam to Boost Public Procurement

Leaked TPP – Vietnam unwilling to strengthen enforcement of intellectual property rights

Vietnam is not alone in rejecting to commit more resources to the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR), according to a secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiation paper released by WikiLeaks on 13 November 2014.

Many commentators had speculated that Vietnam might have to commit to a stronger IPR enforcement regime under the TPP. However, all parties in the negotiations, except the United States and Japan, propose that they shall not be obliged to distribute more resources to IPR enforcement.

Continue reading Leaked TPP – Vietnam unwilling to strengthen enforcement of intellectual property rights