Category Archives: Vietnam – Market Access

Outcomes of APEC – the TPP is dead, long live the CPTPP

As the dust settles and Vietnam returns to some semblance of normality following this year’s APEC summit, regional business leaders and investors are left to consider the consequences of the forum.

 

This year marks the second time that Vietnam has hosted the APEC summit, and the event was largely considered a success for the country. Vietnam was placed in a difficult position, between the competing interests of the United States and China, requiring a deftness in diplomacy.

 

Most media outlets were more concerned with President Trump and what would be his first appearance at a multilateral forum in the Asia-Pacific region. Widely-expected faux pas did not materialise, but neither did much news on the US’ position towards the region. Trump’s keynote speech was short on surprises, following familiar themes of protectionism, isolationism and criticism of predatory economic policies. Essentially, the speech underlined what we already know – that under the Trump administration the US would be taking a step back from the Asia-Pacific region and trade will need to be conducted on a bilateral basis.

 

In a marked contrast to the American tirade, China’s President Xi Jinping presented himself as a champion of economic openness and globalisation. Xi espoused a vision in support of a multilateral trade regime, and received hearty applause in return from the amassed delegates.

 

Putting his words into practice, Trump’s subsequent stop in Hanoi saw the signing of US$12 billion in commercial deals, including in the natural gas, transport and aviation sectors. In particular, national carrier Vietnam Airlines signed a deal worth US$1.5 billion for engines and support services from US firm Pratt & Whitney.

 

Despite the very different stalls set up by the attendant superpowers, Vietnam managed to balance itself somewhere in between. In a joint statement, Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang and Trump reaffirmed the importance of the countries’ Comprehensive Partnership, and agreed to promote bilateral trade and investment.

 

Vietnam also stood in support of Xi’s signature policy, the Belt and Road Initiative. Specifically, both sides agreed to enhance economic and trade cooperation, with a particular focus on infrastructure.

 

Regional and international media praised Vietnam’s hosting of the summit and the final Economic Leaders’ Week, highlighting the country’s commitment to economic integration, sustainable growth and support for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). In the eyes of many, Vietnam has cemented its position at the centre of APEC’s economic structure. The country took advantage of the opportunity to enhance its prestige in the international arena and show others the strides it has made in development since it last hosted APEC.

 

Resurrecting the TPP

 

Trump’s election last year seemed to herald the demise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), at least in its current form. Without US support, the trade agreement was surely destined to be forgotten or watered down to the point where it becomes worthless.

 

The US withdrawal failed to dampen enthusiasm for the trade pact, however, with Japan and Australia strongly advocating the continuation of talks, and protecting the gains made in the original TPP negotiations.

 

Following discussions in Danang, the 11 countries still backing the TPP agreed to its resurrection, and renaming, as the Comprehensive Progressive Agreement for the TPP (CPTPP). The move represents a clear rebuke to Trump’s ‘America First’ focus on bilateral deal-making. Despite a last-minute wobble from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the members agreed on keeping core elements of the original deal that would advance open markets, combat protectionism, and strengthen regional economic integration.

 

Vietnamese leaders were certainly sorry to see the US turn its back on the TPP; knowing that access to American markets would have brought significant economic benefits. Although a deal is better than no deal, the CPTPP is expected to have a more modest impact on the nation’s economic future.

 

The National Center for Information and Forecasting predicts that under the CPTPP, Vietnam’s GDP could increase by 1.32 percent, compared to a potential 6.7 percent with the TPP. Similarly, the export growth rate is estimated at 4 percent, instead of the 15 percent previously. If the CPTPP is ratified, Vietnam would also be able to expand its export markets, with opportunities to reach Canada, Mexico and Peru.

 

Nevertheless, there is still room for the CPTPP to be derailed – the pact requires domestic ratification by each member economy. While Japan has already done so, other members, particularly Canada, could require longer to officially validate the pact.

 

There are, however, reasons to be optimistic. Many were certain the US withdrawal would be the death knell for trade pacts like the TPP, only to see America’s Asia-Pacific allies regroup and move forward on their own. There is clear commitment to regional economic integration, with or without America’s blessing.

 

A multilateral trade deal would provide much-needed clarity for businesses, especially smaller ones, in entering new markets. Universal standards would make life a lot easier for the region’s many MSMEs looking to expand their operations across borders. Those working in the digital sector would benefit from a framework on data security, privacy, intellectual property and e-commerce.

 

Even after Trump withdrew the US from the TPP, the original template survived almost wholly intact. The bar remains high, and the remaining members now have the opportunity to hash out a progressive framework for continued economic growth.

 

Although Donald Trump received the most attention in Danang, the main achievement of APEC may be the reanimation of a deal he sought to kill. This time the harsh rhetoric may have had an unintended consequence – pushing the region even further towards economic integration and free trade.

 

For more information about doing business in Vietnam, please contact Giles at GTCooper@duanemorris.com or any of the lawyers in our office listing. Giles is co-General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC and branch director of Duane Morris’ HCMC office.

Vietnam steps up sale of SOEs

Hopes abound that a new Decree will drag the near-moribund process of privatising large State-owned enterprises (SOEs) into a new and more efficient phase.

 

Over the past 30 years, the restructuring of SOEs has been a key component of Vietnam’s economic reforms under Doi Moi (renovation). The process has been undertaken by successive governments and is a central pillar to creating the business-friendly climate desired by the current leadership.

 

Nevertheless, it remains largely a work in progress. According to a report by the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), since 1992, Vietnam has ‘equitised’ over 4,500 enterprises (‘privatized’ being considered an unsuitable term for Vietnam and not always accurate anyway given the propensity for the State to maintain controlling stakes).  The fact is that many of these took place in a short period of time and were smaller production units of large conglomerate-type corporations.  The CIEM report concluded that progress is below expectations. SOEs have struggled to attract strategic investors and sale of shares has not reduced the level of State budget in SOEs’ charter capital, as was hoped.

 

There are multiple reasons for the disappointing progress including restrictions on foreign ownership, and the State’s desire to maintain ultimate management control.  Opaque valuations and concerns over transparency also deter strategic and other investors from getting involved in the process and ultimately slow it down.

 

To continue growing, Vietnam is under increasing pressure to reform the equitisation process for its SOEs, with new efforts being made to accelerate the government’s divestment. Under plans announced earlier this year, the government will equitise a further 137 SOEs in the 2016-2020 period.  Many of those slated are large and some can be considered the cream of the crop.

 

This renewed motivation is driven in large part by the government’s need to mobilise financial resources to deal with a rising fiscal deficit and public debt. The country’s obligations under a number of free trade agreements also provide impetus to break up the big entities.

 

Determining demand

 

Recently, a significant change was announced in a bid to speed up equitisation of SOEs: the law will change to allow book building as a means of determining interest and price for IPOs of SOEs.

 

Up until now, the equitisation of Vietnam’s SOEs has been handled through public auction, direct negotiation and underwriting. Most have adopted the public auction method, but this has proved unattractive to investors, with even big assets like Vinamilk failing to generate the expected interest.

 

Under new Decree 126/2017/ND-CP, the Prime Minister has instructed the Ministry of Finance to prepare detailed guidelines on implementation of book building to facilitate efficient IPOs as part of the equitisation process.

 

This method of price discovery, used widely internationally and now approved for the first time in Vietnam in connection with equitisation purposes, is expected to make the process more efficient and attractive to strategic investors.  Decree 126 also eases restrictions on the profitability of strategic partners (from three to two years), cuts the lock-in period (from five to three years) and provides more detailed guidance on valuations of SOEs generally (notably removing reference to DCF valuation and providing more clarity around valuation of land use rights and goodwill).

 

It is hoped that this move, to take effect from 1 January 2018, will enhance transparency in SOE equitisation and hasten the hitherto slow listing on the country’s stock exchanges. The Decree will have a particular impact on the next wave of SOE IPOs, slated for 2018-19.

 

Energy giants next?

 

An area in dire need of extensive equitisation is the energy sector. In order to ease electricity shortages, attract more investment and boost economic growth the country will need to tackle inefficient State-owned power actors.

 

The issue of power shortages could come to a head in the next four years, with forecasts predicting that annual growth in electricity consumption will start to match, and possibly outpace, the installed capacity growth. If consumption continues to expand at a similar rate to the last decade (an average of 12 percent a year) the country could soon be facing a power crisis.

 

This gloomy scenario is looking increasingly likely, considering that foreign direct investment (FDI) into the manufacturing sector, which accounts for 50 percent of total electricity consumption, has doubled over the past four years to reach US$63.1 billion. Luckily for businesses, the government is keen on keeping this development trend going, and having the electricity to power it.

 

Recent reports in the media state that the government has lined up a series of sizable IPOs of major power corporations, including PV Power, EVN Generation Corporation Number 3 (Genco 3) and Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited (BSR). If the above projections on power demand growth are anything to go by, Vietnam’s power sector holds significant potential, and may prove an irresistible offer to foreign firms. This offer, however, is contingent on the government breaking up the energy giants and levelling the playing field for investors. Official approval of the book building method for pricing IPOs is a start.

 

PV Power, the country’s second-largest electricity producer, plans to auction a 20 percent stake through its IPO scheduled for the end of this year, and 28.8 percent of shares will be sold to strategic investors. Meanwhile, the equitisation of Genco 3 is awaiting the government’s go-ahead.

 

The changes above demonstrate a willingness to step up the equitisation of SOEs, with looming budget considerations providing a timely incentive. Beginning next year, the slow process may finally gather some much needed pace and see involvement of foreign players previously put off by the state of play.

 

For more information about Vietnam’s equitisation and IPO processes, please contact Giles at GTCooper@duanemorris.com or any of the lawyers in our office listing. Giles is co-General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC and branch director of Duane Morris’ HCMC office.

Risk and reward in Vietnam’s real estate as investors ignore uncertainty over future of land rights

Vietnam has emerged as an attractive destination for foreign investors looking to enter the real estate market. Driven by a fast-growing economy, high rate of urbanisation and expanding middle-class, cities like Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City have become dynamic and lucrative metropolises. For those willing to shoulder the risks, the market offers substantial rewards and great potential over the coming decades.

 

Much of the development can be attributed to the implementation of the Land Law (No. 45/2013/QH13), Law on Housing (No. 65/2014/QH13) and Law on Real Estate Business (No. 66/2014/QH13), which effectively opened the floodgates to foreign investment in real estate.  In principle, these laws allow foreigners most of the same rights as locals when it comes to purchasing and owning real estate.  Many foreign development companies are jumping at the chance to develop new residential and commercial properties in one of the world’s fastest growing economies.  Question marks remain however over the underlying rights foreign-invested developers enjoy in the land on which these buildings sit and it remains to be seen how this will play out.

 

Lack of Certainty 

 

For many developers the country’s political landscape remains a hurdle. In Vietnam, land is collectively owned by the people, and administered by the State on their behalf. Under this system, property owners are denied full and legal ownership over the land. Their rights to the land are limited to ‘land use rights’ within the scope permitted by law.  A land user is issued a land use right certificate (LURC) that recognises the land user’s rights over the property.  There are different types of land use rights possible and some come very close to being analogous to freehold ownership as many would know it in the West (use right in perpetuity, subject to reversion and compulsory public works acqusitions, right to sell, transfer, mortgage etc).

Continue reading Risk and reward in Vietnam’s real estate as investors ignore uncertainty over future of land rights

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

明確化されたベトナムの物流会社に対する外国投資及びM&A

ベトナムでの外資系物流会社の設立と外国人によるベトナム人パートナーからの持分取得は、より明確なルールで進めることが可能となりました。ロジスティクス分門は、国際条約とベトナム国内法の施行の間に矛盾が生じて、多くの方々を悩ませていました。一方、ベトナム商工省(MOIT)は最近、より明確な施行規則(通達第 9911/BCT-KH号)、そしてホーチミン人民委員会やベトナム・ビジネス・フォーラム(VBF)に対する返答を含む、複数の公式文書を発行しています。同時に、日系物流会社はベトナムで100%外資で子会社を設立しました。

国際条約は国内法に優先する。MOITからのコメントもその基本原則を繰り返しています。従って、殆どの場合にはまず、ベトナムのWTOサービス・セクター・コミットメント(WTOSSC)を参考します。それにより、倉庫及びフォワーダーのような事業活動は100%外資での市場参入が可能ですが、コンテナ積降などの分野ではベトナム人の資本参加が必要です。

ベトナム流通分野の外資規制(WTOSSC)
CPC サービス分類 外国人保有比率
の上限
742 倉庫 100%
748 貨物運送代理 100%
749の一部 運送証券検査、貨物運送仲介、貨物鑑定、サンプル採取、重量判定、貨物の受取、受入、運送証明準備 99%
7211 海運(国内運送を除く顧客運送) 49%
7212 海運(国内運送を除く貨物運送) 51%
7221 内陸水路運送(顧客運送) 49%
7222 内陸水路運送(貨物運送) 49%
7111 鉄道運送(顧客運送) 未公約
7112 鉄道運送(貨物運送) 49%
7121 + 7122 道路運送(顧客運送) 49%
7123 道路運送(貨物運送) 51%
No CPC 通関 99%
No CPC コンテナヤード 100%
7411 コンテナ積降(空港でのサービスを除く) 50%
7512 配達(速配サービス) 100%
621, 61111, 6113, 6121, 622, 631 + 632 流通(輸出入、販売代理店、卸売、小売) 100%

M&Aにおける外国人買い手としては、購入価格やその他の条件に加え、絶対に不可欠なものと任意な事業内容をリストアップし、対象企業への出資比率の最良のケース及び許容範囲を考慮し区別しておくことをお勧めします。

ヤマト運輸及び佐川急便は、ベトナムで独資での子会社を設立しました。これは100%外資で可能な事業内容を戦略的に選別した上で可能となっています。

詳細につきましては、ジャイルズ・クーパー(gtcooper@duanemorris.com)、オットー マンフレッド 倉雄(motto@duanemorris.com) 、又はドウェイン・モリス法律事務所で通常連絡を取っている弁護士へご連絡ください。

More Clarity on Foreign Investment and M&A in Logistics Companies in Vietnam

Foreign investors can now proceed with more certainty when setting up logistic companies or acquiring stakes from Vietnamese partners. Logistics is an area where discrepancies between international treaties and domestic law implementation have caused many headaches. However, Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) has recently provided more clarity through a guiding regulation (Circular No. 9911/BCT-KH) and a number of official letters, including responses to the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee and the Vietnam Business Forum. At the same time, a few Japanese logistics companies have established 100% foreign-invested subsidiaries in Vietnam.

International treaties should supersede national law, and official comments from MOIT have restated that view. So, we initially refer to Vietnam’s WTO service sector commitments (WTOSSC) in most cases. Accordingly, some sectors are open to 100% foreign investment (e.g., warehousing and freight forwarding), while some still require Vietnamese equity participation (e.g., container handling).

Foreign Ownership Limitations in the Logistics Sector (WTOSSC)
CPC Service Description Max. Foreign Ownership
742 Storage and Warehouse 100%
748 Freight transport agency (incl. freight forwarding services) 100%
749 (partially) Bill auditing; freight brokerage; freight inspection, weighing and sampling; freight receiving and acceptance; transportation document preparation on behalf of cargo owners 99%
7211 Maritime transport (Passengers; less cabotage) 49%
7212 Maritime transport (Freight; less cabotage) 51%
7221 Internal waterways transport (Passengers) 49%
7222 Internal waterways transport (Freight) 49%
7111 Rail transport (Passengers) Unbound
7112 Rail transport (Freight) 49%
7121 + 7122 Road transport (Passengers) 49%
7123 Road transport (Freight) 51%
No CPC Custom clearance 99%
No CPC Container station and depot 100%
7411 Container handling (except at airports) 50%
7512 Courier (express delivery) 100%
621, 61111, 6113, 6121, 622, 631 + 632 Distribution (import/export, commission agents, wholesale, retail) 100%

As a foreign buyer in an M&A case, besides the purchases price and other conditions, we recommend to consider and differentiate between absolutely essential and optional business lines as well as the best case and acceptable levels of ownership in the target.

Yamato Logistics and Sagawa Express have established 100% foreign-invested subsidiaries in Vietnam. This is possible through strategically limiting business lines to those that are open to 100% foreign investment.

For further information, please  contact Giles Cooper (gtcooper@duanemorris.com), Manfred Otto (motto@duanemorris.com) or any other lawyer you are regularly communicating with at Duane Morris.

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.

 

ベトナムの外食事業、100%外資系企業の参入が可能に

国際的外食チェーンにおけるベトナムでの経営について

ドウェイン・モリス・ベトナム法律事務所
オットー マンフレッド 倉雄

国際的外食チェーンにとって、ベトナム進出の絶好のチャンスが到来します。2015年1月より、ベトナムの外食産業に対して、100%外資系企業の参入が認められるようになります。外資系企業は、製造及び企業内の物流管理ネットワークも設けることができます。今まで小売店の参入障壁となっていた「エコノミックニーズテスト」(ENT)は、レストランに適用されないと考えられます(ただし、大規模小売店には未だに適用されます)。今回の市場アクセスの自由化で、外資により大量生産のファーストフード・チェーン店の法的枠組みが構築されます。また、今回の自由化は、現在、ベトナムでベトナム人の名義を借りて、レストラン事業を実質的に経営している外国人にも影響があります。今回の市場開放で、外資系企業による「100%外資」化と完全なコントロールが可能になり、多くの国際的外食チェーンが一斉に進出することが見込まれています。
Continue reading ベトナムの外食事業、100%外資系企業の参入が可能に

Get ready, Vietnam’s Restaurants Open To 100% Foreign Ownership!

How International Dining and Food Chains Can Control Their Businesses In Vietnam

By Manfred Otto, Duane Morris Vietnam LLC

Now is the time for international chains to position themselves. Beginning in January 2015, Vietnam’s restaurant business is open to 100 percent foreign ownership. Foreign-invested enterprises (“FIE”) may run their own production and internal logistics network free from limitations. The dreaded Economic Needs Test (“ENT”), still required for large retail stores, may not affect restaurant outlets. Like them or not, the legal conditions required for mass-produced fast food will soon be in place. A shakeup may also occur among already-established restaurants with apparently foreign management. Expect to see international chains, which have been waiting for “100 percent ownership” and full control, to flock to Vietnam.

Continue reading Get ready, Vietnam’s Restaurants Open To 100% Foreign Ownership!