Category Archives: Vietnam – Public Private Partnerships

Vietnam’s waste-to-energy projects should be low hanging fruit

While alchemists of years past failed to turn lead into gold, technology today can turn waste into energy, and more efficiently than ever before, proving there is not only money to be made from rubbish, but also neat solutions to perennial problems.

Vietnam has long struggled with issues of waste management, with a recent study estimating that Ho Chi Minh City alone discharges 8,300 tonnes of waste each day. At the same time, power shortages and outages remain a part of daily life in parts of the city.

The country’s most popular method of solid waste treatment is still burial, with up to 76 per cent of trash ending up in landfills. Dump sites are prevalent thanks to their relatively low cost, little initial investment and ability to handle most types of solid refuse. However, the increasing amount of waste, lax management and disregard for technical protocols are rapidly making this method unsustainable. A number of environmental incidents have also raised the alarm over the pollution and contamination caused by this method of waste management.

Rapid urbanisation is partly behind the vertiginous increase in waste ­– rising urban populations are creating serious waste management problems for cities all over the world. In Vietnam in particular, with economic growth, urban residents are enjoying rising wages and living standards, in turn producing more waste.

Rising populations are also putting the strain on the country’s power-generation capabilities – a problem that will require significant investment over the coming years.

 Waste not, want not

A number of companies are working in Vietnam’s clean energy space, and while headlines are usually dominated by wind and solar power projects, the waste-to-energy sector has been enjoying some development too. The idea of converting Vietnam’s growing waste problem into a solution for its shortage of power could kill two birds with one stone.

The capital city of Hanoi inaugurated its first industrial waste-to-energy facility in April this year, supplying electricity to the national grid. With a waste treatment capacity of 75 tonnes per day and a power generation capability of 1.93MW, the facility is a pioneering project in Vietnam’s industrial waste treatment industry.

Almost all of the factory’s equipment was supplied by the Hitachi Zosen Company of Japan. With total investment capital of US$29 million, including more than US$22.5 million of non-refundable aid from Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) and the remainder extracted from the city’s budget.

With advanced technology from Japan, the factory demonstrates the potential in this area of clean energy and its attraction to foreign investors. If all goes well, the company has plans for another plant in the capital city and more across the country.

Australia’s Trisun Energy is another firm showing interest in this field, having set a major investment target of building up to 20 power-generating waste treatment plants in Vietnam over the next 5 to 10 years. The company, founded in 2011, is currently completing a comprehensive study of a waste-to-power plant in Ho Chi Minh City. According to Trisun, the plant will be capable of burning up to 3,000 tonnes of garbage per day, or more than 40 per cent of the city’s waste.

In addition to Japan and Australia, some leading Finnish companies are at the forefront of addressing the issues of waste and energy.

A delegation of 16 Finnish exhibitors set out some of their plans at the Vietwater 2017 expo, which recently concluded in Ho Chi Minh City. These include solutions for contaminated landfill sites and waste-to-energy projects; the development of biogas technology; and the generation of electricity from biomass and waste.

Doranova is one such firm. Since early January 2017, Doranova has been constructing a landfill gas plant in Binh Duong, north of Ho Chi Minh City. The plant will extract harmful methane emissions from a nearby landfill, generating electricity while reducing environmental pollution. According to the company, the plant will provide additional power generation options from waste materials for residents and businesses in the city.

 Not a wasted opportunity

These projects in Vietnam’s biggest cities represent small steps towards solving the country’s waste epidemic. They also help to diversify the national energy mix, which is crucial in ensuring the supply of energy meets the expected rise in consumption.

The increased focus on the clean-technology sector and particularly energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies and waste management provides business opportunities for international players who have the knowledge, expertise and technology needed in this field. The question is whether Vietnam will take full advantage of the opportunity.

Though a promising start has been made, the widespread implementation of waste-to-energy facilities will require a more concerted effort from authorities. The country’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) has set ambitious targets for the collection, reduction, reuse and recycling of waste nationwide. By 2020, 90% of urban domestic solid waste is to be collected and treated, with 85% recycled and reused.

Indeed, Hitachi Zosen Company (behind Hanoi’s waste-to-energy plant) has expressed concerns over the incentives and investment conditions provided by the Vietnamese government. The company, as well as a number of Japanese investors, are keen on rolling out the waste-to-energy model across the country. However, a lack of favourable investment conditions for foreign investors is holding back the industry. At present, investors are waiting for Vietnam to enact new public-private partnership regulations, before deciding on next-step investments.

The waste-to-energy sector in Vietnam holds a lot of potential, and technological advances mean that win-win solutions to both an abundance of waste and shortage of power are more affordable than ever. Combined with efforts in other areas of renewable energy, and the entry of international players, significant progress can be made in green power generation. As ever, the amount of progress depends on the attractive policies set out by the government. Investors are ready, and Vietnam would be wise not to let the opportunity go to waste.

For more information about Vietnam’s energy sector, 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.

Public debt puts the squeeze on government guarantees, stifling project finance projects in Vietnam

Vietnam’s economic success story is evident in the rapid development of its big cities. However, while the country’s growth has outpaced its neighbours, so has its debt; a factor that threatens to de-rail growth.  Not least of all because of the impact on the government’s ability to give guarantees to underpin privately-financed infrastructure.

 

Over recent decades, the government has spent significantly. Priority has been given to roads, export zones and other critical infrastructure. This is evident across the country, where highways, tunnels, factories, airports and metro systems are being expanded, or built from scratch, at an incredible pace.

 

The biggest macroeconomic challenge facing Vietnam today is sustaining that growth. The government needs to be more rigorous about how it spends money, leveraging it better to attract and benefit from private funds rather than prop up State-owned entities.  The looming spectre of public debt will need to be tackled before the country finds itself in a precarious position.

 

Vietnam’s total public debt as of mid-July 2017 reportedly stood at US$94.6 billion, or about US$1,038 per capita. In fuelling the country’s celebrated growth, public debt has increased consistently, from 36% of GDP in 2001 to about 62.4% in 2016. According to an IMF forecast, it will hit 63.3% and 64.3% in 2017 and 2018, respectively, while the self-imposed public debt ceiling is set by the government at 65% of GDP for 2020.

 

Vietnam’s public debt compares unfavourably with the rest of the region, with Thailand coming in at 41 percent of GDP and Malaysia at 56 percent, according to the World Bank.

 

The annual growth of public debt during 2011-15 was 18.4 per cent, triple the annual GDP growth rate, which averaged about 5.9 per cent over the period.

 

A squeeze on guarantees

 

In an effort to tackle the ballooning public debt, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) announced changes to regulations on Government guarantees earlier this year. The adjustment is one of the regulations stated in the Government’s Decree 04/2017/ND-CP (Decree 04), superseding Decree 15/2011/ND-CP (Decree 15), issued on February 16, 2011.

 

Taking effect from March 1, the maximum level of Government guarantees for a programme or project was reduced from the previous level of 80 percent. Decree 04 replaces this with a three-tiered cap on the amount of guaranteed debt as a percentage of the investment capital depending on the size or importance of the project, each lower than the cap established in Decree 15.  In all cases this is far lower than the golden days of Vietnam’s early privately financed infrastructure projects like the Phu My 3 and Phu My 2.2 power projects which both enjoyed near total guarantees.

 

The current highest level of guarantee, set at 70 percent, applies to projects that must be implemented on an urgent basis, and have been approved by the National Assembly or the Prime Minister. Secondly, for projects whose total investment is at least VND2.3 trillion (US$102 million) and have been approved by the Prime Minister, the maximum proportion guaranteed by the Government is 60 percent. A cap of 50 percent will be applied to other projects.

 

In continuing to restructure of the country’s public debt with more stringent monitoring of projects, the decree aims at tightening the provision of Government guarantees and enhancing the management of public debt.

 

However, at a time when Vietnam needs to develop much infrastructure, notably in the energy sector, and requires substantial foreign investment to do so, Decree 04 makes it more difficult for private investors to obtain MoF Guarantees for projects.

 

Ticking debt time bomb

 

Taking the energy sector as an example, questions remain over EVN’s economic health. Tariffs on electricity have long been maintained at below cost levels. The policy of low subsidised tariffs to maintain the competitiveness of domestic industry and keep consumers happy is putting pressure on the government and EVN’s balance sheet.

 

The average retail electricity tariff stood at just above US$0.08/KWh as of 2016, the lowest in Southeast Asia, and only just above EVN’s average generation cost of US$0.075/KWh (excluding transmission and distribution costs). This has depressed sector cash flow and contributed to EVN’s rising debt.

 

This has raised concerns among private sector investors over EVN’s ability to pay for electricity generated as the single buyer, while the current low retail tariffs mean that investors are not confident of negotiating adequate prices for generation projects.

 

With the situation likely to continue, EVN’s financial position will surely deteriorate, leaving it with unsustainable debt and unable to finance capital expenditure. This would force private sector investors to seek increased government guarantees. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the government is looking to rein in such largesse. As Vietnam’s economy grows, the previously abundant soft loans and ODA are beginning to dry up, meaning that the sources of support for private finance are becoming harder to find.

 

In order to reduce risk, the developers of major infrastructure projects may need to seek out private insurance groups or institutions like the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). However, these options obviously don’t come without their own costs. Investors, and ultimately end consumers, will have to take the hit.

 

Much of Vietnam’s current fiscal position can be blamed on poor management. The state-owned giants that have lost their repayment ability on Government-guaranteed loans are passing on the burden to the Government.

 

The sluggish privatisation of State-owned enterprises means that inefficiency will continue. The sooner this process is completed, the better for the economy as a whole. Measures like reducing government guarantees may be prudent, but if Vietnam wants to maintain its economic momentum serious action is needed to first untangle the mess of intra-State bad debt.

 

For more information about project finance matters 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 plays a calculated game of risk with new solar PPA

Vietnam appears to be betting on gung ho enthusiasm to kick start solar power development rather than taking bold steps to deliver a stable backbone to the industry.  It’s a gamble that may pay off in the short term but might also saddle the country with poorly-conceived and under-performing projects in the long term.

 

To much fanfare, Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) released Circular 16 in including final template power purchase agreements (PPA) for the solar energy sector. The circular and PPA templates follow a draft issued back in April this year, and are stated to be mandatory templates for utility-scale and rooftop solar projects.

 

The original draft PPA for utility scale grid projects was met with criticism, and declared non-bankable by most experts and commentators (despite hewing closely to the previously-issued standard PPA for wind projects). Unfortunately, little has changed with the final version of the PPA.  Would-be investors raised serious concerns over the amount and type of risk the PPA sought to shift to investors, and the message delivered was that unless the government was willing to address some of the most glaring problems, few reputable foreign solar players and, just as importantly, few reputable financiers would be likely to sign up.

 

Having largely ignored recommendations provided, the final text does little to inspire confidence. The final PPA does not improve upon the main critical issues highlighted in April.  Issues include a lack of measures to compensate producers for interruption in the ability to receive power, force majeure conditions, contract suspension, and settlement of disputes.

 

Tariff trouble

 

With the FiT rate of US$0.0935/kWh for grid-connected solar power projects confirmed, Circular 16 goes on to outline that the FiT is available for 20 years to projects, or parts of projects, that reach commercial operation before 30 June 2019.

 

As with the draft from April, the final PPA does not include any indexation of the FiT to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to address inflation risks. In response to concerns over fluctuating exchange rates, the circular does state that “the FiT for the following year shall be adjusted according to the central exchange rates of the Vietnamese dong against the US dollar announced by the State Bank of Vietnam on the last working day of the preceding year.”  Annual adjustment is better than none but it wouldn’t have been difficult to spread adjustments throughout the year.

 

As a way to offset the relatively low tariff, and inflation risks, investors may be able to benefit from tax exemptions on raw materials and supplies imported for their projects, corporate income tax relief, and an exemption from land rental fees within the first three years of commencing commercial operation.

 

A risk too far?

 

Under Decision 11 (which also set the FiT) and the final version of the PPA appended to Circular 16, Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) is responsible for purchasing the entire power output from grid-connected projects at the stated FiT.

 

However, the PPA relieves EVN from payment obligations in cases where it is unable to take power due to a breakdown of the transmission or distribution grid. With many solar projects currently focused on few central locations, the capacity of existing facilities to absorb power must be a cause of some concern given the PPA’s transfer of such risk to power producers.

 

Worryingly, the PPA lacks any mechanism to compensate power producers should interruptions happen outside of their control. Not only does the PPA not provide for extension of time in case of force majeure, but if force majeure were to prevent a power producer from meeting its obligations for a year then EVN could unilaterally terminate the PPA with no compensation payable.  In such circumstances, the power producer is left alone in the dark.

 

Such arrangements might be acceptable to projects that manage to negotiate clear ‘take or pay’ terms and/or government guarantees, but it is highly questionable whether and to what extent either of these will be possible in the current climate.  As a direct consequence, it is equally questionable to what extent private finance will be prepared to bear the risk, a fact that will prompt capital to seek more favourable conditions in other markets.

 

Playing by house rules

 

If the above portends of problems in the relationship with EVN, investors may be further discouraged by the lack of specifics in terms of dispute resolution. The PPA is governed by Vietnamese law and does not itself expressly include the right to agree on international arbitration to resolve disputes, a condition that would typically be considered an important requirement.

 

As it stands, disputes can be submitted to the Electricity Renewable Energy Department (formerly the General Directorate of Energy) for mediation. If that doesn’t work, there is the option of escalating the issue to the Electricity Regulatory Authority of Vietnam (ERAV) or pursuing litigation in Vietnam’s courts.

 

The PPA does allow for “another dispute resolution body to be agreed by the parties”, which potentially opens the door for sellers to negotiate with EVN on dispute resolution, including offshore or even domestic arbitration.  But it is not clear if EVN will agree to directly amend PPAs to allow for express prior agreement on offshore arbitration or simply open the door for such a discussion at the time of a dispute.  Clearly in the latter case the deck is firmly stacked in EVN’s favour.

 

One step forward… wait and see

 

The MoIT is well aware of the deficiencies in the PPA and knows that, in its current form, it will not attract the kind of investment Vietnam needs if it is to meet both its energy demands and renewable targets. They know that investors were hoping for some of the shortfalls to have been addressed, and as such the agreement remains – for all intents and purposes – largely unbankable.

 

On the other hand however, the MoIT is also acutely aware of the significant interest in Vietnam’s solar sector. The vast potential of solar power is there for the taking, with abundant land available for the development of solar farms for first movers. With this in mind, the PPA can be considered an attempt to test the waters – asking how much risk investors are willing to bear in return for a piece of the action.

 

The MoIT is confident that smaller, nimble players will be attracted to Vietnam and make investments, regardless of the bankability of the PPA on paper. The question truly posed by Circular 16 is: exactly how much risk are investors willing to accept?  What better way to test it than in open market conditions?  If risk allocation adjustment need to be made in future, the Prime Minister, MoIT and EVN can make them relatively easily.

 

Ultimately, although the PPA is “final” on paper, the real trick is for investors to work hard and smart to agree adjustments on a project-to-project basis that re-align specific risks in acceptable ways.  Each project is a sum of many different elements and successful investors in the early days at least will be the ones that focus their energies on key issues for their projects where they can make meaningful progress.  Opportunity vs. risk: Vietnam is playing a calculated game at the dawn of the solar energy sector.  Where the chips fall remains to be seen.

 

For more information about Vietnam’s energy sector, 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’s proposed wind power price hike – is it enough?

One of the main criticisms levelled at Vietnam’s wind power sector is the relatively low feed-in tariff (FiT) introduced by the government in 2011. With the country’s rapid growth, energy demand is expected to soar over the coming years. Coupled with international pressure to keep to its greenhouse gas commitments, Vietnam is in desperate need of large-scale and long-term investment in its renewable energy sector.

 

The buying price of VND1,614/kWh (US$0.078) was set for all land-based projects in the country, with 6.8 cents paid by State-run power monopoly Vietnam Electricity (EVN), and the rest coming from the country’s Environment Protection Fund.

 

However, the rate, intended to encourage the development of wind power projects, was considered insufficient for investors to recover their investment capital. The tariff is also much lower than in neighbouring Indonesia (US$0.11), Malaysia (US$0.1476) and Thailand (US$0.19).

 

Change of direction

 

Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has recently proposed an adjustment to the rate, asking the government to raise the buying price for wind power in an effort to help investors cover high input costs. It is hoped that such a move would push foreign firms to develop new wind power projects or expand their existing farms. Accelerated development in this sector is vital if Vietnam is to meet the energy targets it has set for itself, as well as wean the country off dirty and expensive imports of coal.

 

The ministry has suggested the price be lifted to US$0.087 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for wind energy projects on land and US$0.0995 cents per kWh for offshore farms. Such a rate would still lag behind regional competitors and the global average of US$0.196 per kWh as reported by the World Energy Commission, but may present a more feasible option to investors.

 

On top of the off-putting FiT, the number of wind power projects in Vietnam remains low as only wind turbine towers, accounting for 20 percent of production costs, can be produced locally, while investors have to import the remaining components.

 

Not winding down yet

 

There’s little doubt about the country’s potential for wind exploitation ­– according to a World Bank report, 8.6 percent of Vietnam’s land mass is suitable for the construction of wind farms, which would produce sufficient electricity to meet a lot of current and future power needs.

 

Some of the country’s currently operating wind farms, specifically in the province of Binh Thuan, work with the previously promulgated FiT of US$0.078 per kWh, and the Bac Lieu wind farm enjoys US$0.098 per kWh due to its offshore location.

 

The MoIT has highlighted these projects as part of the reasoning behind the rate hike. Concerns have been raised by the investors behind the projects over the time it would take to recover their investment capital. In fact, the investors in question had previously requested authorities raise the regulated FiT to $0.095 per kWh, but were unsuccessful.

 

According to the investor of the Phu Lac wind farm, the first phase of the project, which came into operation in November 2016, has total investment capital of VND1.1 trillion (US$48.4 million). With the existing FiT, it would take around 14 years to recover the investment of just the first phase. Considering the average lifespan of a wind farm is just 20 to 25 years, it’s no wonder that developers are hesitant about breaking ground on new projects.

 

As of now, there are 48 registered wind power projects with total capacity of 5,000MW in Vietnam, 23 of which have had their pre-feasibility reports approved by the MoIT and are patiently waiting for an increase in the FiT. It remains to be seen whether the suggested increase is enough for the projects to move ahead.

 

Incremental improvement

 

The proposal by the MoIT demonstrates an acceptance that despite a range of tax benefits offered to foreign investors including exemptions from customs duties, a preferential corporate tax rate of 10% and income tax and land use fee exemptions, the government’s initial energy strategy proved unappealing to investors. To offset any complaints, the trade ministry has calculated that the price adjustment they are proposing would raise EVN’s production costs by a slight VND0.08 per kWh this year and VND0.23 per kWh in 2019.

 

Even a light increase in the FiT, as put forward by the MoIT, could stoke some growth in the sector. The attraction of foreign investors capable of producing complicated parts could mean that the localisation ratio is bumped to more than 40 percent. For example, China has reached a localisation ratio of almost 100 percent for their wind power projects, but the selling price of the energy stands at around US$0.08 per kWh.

 

In summary, the proposed hike seems insufficient to really improve Vietnam’s position as a renewable energy leader in Southeast Asia. The sector remains riddled with problems of transparency and the perpetual presence of giants like EVN is an obstacle for smaller private players looking to enter the market. A meagre FiT does little to neutralise the risks faced by investors and power producers, especially with more promising offers in the region. The silver lining, however, is that authorities are open to change. The MoIT is echoing the concerns of the renewable energy sector, from both established and potential projects, and looking at ways to develop a more favourable climate going forward. Even if they’re not yet blown away by the increase, investors would do well to watch this space.

 

For more information about Vietnam’s energy sector, 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 looks for greener growth

As Vietnam’s big cities grow, clusters of new buildings sprout up around their peripheries. Rapid urbanisation is transforming cities like Hanoi, and the quiet streets of a few decades ago are today unrecognisable. The question remains – how green is Vietnam’s sprawl?

 

Buildings account for around 36 per cent of the country’s total energy consumption and 25 per cent of emissions, including a third of carbon dioxide emissions – the main cause of global climate change.

 

The concept of green construction was introduced for the first time in the country in 2007. Ten years later Vietnam has just 61 constructions with sustainable green certificates. This number is far too modest in a rapidly-developing country where new urban areas are booming. Neighbours like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are doing much better, and Singapore alone boasts more than 2,100 green buildings with a Green Mark certification.

 

As the country shifts from a rural-agrarian society to an urban-industrial, services-based economy, Vietnam is seeing a significant increase in urbanisation, which stands at approximately 30 per cent today and is expected to increase to 45 per cent by 2020.

  Continue reading Vietnam looks for greener growth

Wind energy in Vietnam – Blowing in the right direction?

Alongside solar power, Vietnam has significant potential in wind energy and it’s hoped that wind will play a large role in turning the country away from coal and gas.

 

To encourage the development of wind power projects the government introduced a feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme way back in 2011. The FiT rate of VND1,614/kWh (excluding VAT, equivalent to US$0.078) was seen at the time as an important step towards realising the country’s renewable ambitions.

 

The low rate, however, has proved unappealing to investors. Despite a range of tax benefits offered to developers, including exemptions from customs duties, a preferential corporate tax rate of 10% and income tax and land use fee exemptions, Vietnam has just four operational wind farms. The original plan to have 1 GW of wind power capacity by 2020 was fanciful, with current projects generating just 138 MW. In fact, three of the four farms are only in existence because they were able to negotiate power purchase agreements (PPA) at better rates than the FiT.

 

The poor take up led to an inevitable rethink, with the revised Power Development Plan 7 (PDP 7) targeting a 6.5% share of electricity generated from renewables by 2020 and 10.7% by 2030. On wind specifically, installed wind power capacity was forecast downwards to 800 MW by 2020, 2000 MW by 2025 and 6000 MW by 2030. These figures would account for 0.8% of total electricity production in 2020, 1% in 2025 and 2.1% in 2030.

Continue reading Wind energy in Vietnam – Blowing in the right direction?

The price of power in Vietnam: not all dollars and cents

It’s clear that meeting Vietnam’s substantial energy demands over the coming years is a tall order even in the best of circumstances. It is hoped that renewable energy sources will play a large part in the country’s energy generation landscape, however, the dominance of large SOEs is blocking the entry of more efficient private operations and slowing down the pace of change.

 

Looking at recent trends in Vietnam’s energy sector, it seems that these state owned projects, backed by overseas development assistance, provide a costly and sluggish source of electricity.

 

Such projects can be up to 40% more expensive to build and take 5 years longer to power up than privately-developed plants. With demand surging, these kind of timescales will prove problematic if supply is to keep abreast of demand.

Continue reading The price of power in Vietnam: not all dollars and cents

Smart cities: intelligent infrastructure for Vietnam’s grid

If not already mesmerised by the traffic, visitors to Vietnam’s large cities often comment on the mass of cables that hang like jungle vines across the streets.

 

Along with the ubiquitous motorcycle, the sight of electrical poles that look more like birds’ nests is emblematic of modern-day Vietnam. It is also a clear sign that the country’s power infrastructure has some serious catching up to do.

 

As mentioned in last week’s post, Vietnam has achieved significant growth over the last couple of decades. Reforms have paved the way for international trade and investment, as well as rising incomes for Vietnamese citizens. The face of cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are changing rapidly, with shiny new developments cropping up as far as the eye can see. Many areas are unrecognisable compared to just ten or twenty years ago. Power needs are marching in lockstep with growth. Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) is the country’s largest power company, and as of 2015 had a transmission network of some 21,883 kilometres.

Continue reading Smart cities: intelligent infrastructure for Vietnam’s grid

The sun rises on Vietnam’s energy sector

Over the past three decades Vietnam has witnessed startling economic success thanks to the country’s openness to international trade and investment. The energy sector in particular has grown rapidly, with abundant hydrocarbons and hydropower resources allowing the country to keep pace with the energy demands of a rising population.

 

However, there may be clouds on the horizon. The most easily-accessible resources are running out and imports of coal and gas will be increasingly needed to keep industry chugging along. To maintain its high rate of growth Vietnam will be looking for huge investment over the coming years. In order to do this, and keep to its international greenhouse gas commitments, the government has set its sights on some ambitious targets for solar power generation.

 

Recent decisions issued by the government represent baby steps in this direction. Evidently, there is some enthusiasm for a solar-powered future, but is it enough?

Continue reading The sun rises on Vietnam’s energy sector

Public Private Partnerships Die neuen PPP Gesetze in Vietnam: Werden profitable Projekte wahrscheinlicher?

Überblick über die öffentlich-private Partnerschaft (ÖPP) im Vietnamesischen Recht

In der Vergangenheit musste die Infrastrukturentwicklung Vietnams darum kämpfen, dass sie mit der wirtschaftlichen Weiterentwicklung und dem Bevölkerungswachstum Schritt hält. Die Statistiken sagen voraus, dass Vietnam innerhalb des Zeitraums von 2011 bis 2020 ca. 170 Milliarden US $ an Investitionen für die Infrastruktur benötigt, währenddessen das staatliche Budget eingeschränkt ist. Die staatlichen Ressourcen und öffentlichen Funds (ODA – „officialdevelopmentassistance“) machen nur ungefähr die Hälfte dessen aus was eigentlich benötigt wird.

In dieser Situation sind die ÖPP die bestmögliche Lösung für Vietnam. Andere Länder haben es versucht und es mittlerweile geschafft erfolgreiche Partnerschaften zwischen der öffentlichen Hand und der Privatwirtschaft zu schaffen. Die grundsätzliche Idee besteht darin, dass beide Seiten sich die Arbeit teilen und dadurch Synergieeffekte entstehen. Dabei steuert die öffentliche Hand Kunden bzw. Nutzer, Land sowie andere Anreize, wie zum Beispiel Steuererleichterungen bei, wohingegen der private Sektor Technologie, Kapital und die Erfahrung effizient zu arbeiten miteinbringt.

Vietnam hat bis dato mehrere rechtliche Rahmenbedingungen in Bezug auf ÖPP geschaffen die meist für BOT-Projekte (Build, Operate, Transfer; deutsch: Bauen, Betreiben, Übertragen) gelten, welche seit 1997 unter dem Dekret Nr.1998/ND-CP vom 15. August 1998 (Dekret Nr. 62) für inländische Investoren und Dekret Nr. 77-CP vom 18 Juni 1997 (Dekret Nr. 77) für ausländische Investoren eingesetzt werden dürfen. 2009 hat die vietnamesische Regierung das Dekret Nr. 108/2009/ND-CP (Dekret Nr. 108) erlassen um das BOT-Modell zu regulieren. BT- (“Build-Transfer”) und BOT-Projekte wurden durch das Dekret Nr. 24/2011/ND-CP (Dekret Nr. 24) von 2011 vereinfacht. Des Weiteren ist Erwähnenswert das 2010 ein Pilot-Programm unter der Entscheidung Nr. 71/2010/QD-TTg (Entscheidung Nr. 71) vom 9. November 2010 vom Premier Minister selbst initiiert wurde.

Vietnam modifiziert die ÖPP-Gesetzgebung

Seit dem Pilot-Programm von 2011 wurde kein weiteres ÖPP-Projekt unter diesen Gesetzen unterzeichnet. Im Vergleich zu anderen südost-asiatischen Ländern sind ausländische Investitionen in Vietnam nur sehr gering. Die aktuelle ÖPP-Gesetzgebung schafft es nicht Vietnam für ausländische Investitionen in Bezug auf ÖPP attraktiv zu machen. Ganz allgemein, das Dekret Nr. 71, als Hauptverordnung, stellt nur ein generelles Gerüst zur Verfügung und ist zu weit auslegbar für BOT-Projekte.

Es ist schwierig in Vietnam Anleger und Kreditgeber für ÖPP Projekte zu finden, meist geschuldet dem geringen Willen der Regierung Zusagen zu erteilen in Bezug auf zugrunde liegenden Probleme wie geringe Löhne oder der Zahlungsbereitschaft; Risiken von Investitionen in Infrastrukturprojekte; und langwierige Regierungsverfahren. Vietnam fehlt es am staatlichen Willen Finanzierungslücken zu überbrücken und ÖPP-Projekte zu unterstützen, welche eine großen wirtschaftlichen Vorteil bringen könnten aber auch eventuell nicht tragfähig sein könnten.

In Vietnam fehlt es ganz klar an einem gesetzlichen Rahmen, welcher dabei hilft die staatliche Macht in Bezug auf ÖPP zu limitieren – solange werden ÖPP-Projekte in Vietnam nicht gefördert.
Um mit dieser Situation umzugehen ist Vietnam dabei die gesetzlichen Rahmenbedingungen für ÖPP zu verbessern, mit dem Ziel Investitionen in „Infrastruktur-Projekte“ neu zu beleben („Neues ÖPP Recht“). Anfang Januar 2015 hat das Ministerium für Planung und Investitionen (MPI) einen endgültigen Entwurf für ein ÖPP-Dekret vorgestellt welche das Dekret Nr. 71 und 108 („Neuester ÖPP-Entwurf“) im Falle einer Ratifizierung ersetzen würde.

In diesem Beitrag möchten wir uns auf die Analyse einiger kritischer Fragen konzentrieren, welche in Bezug auf das Dekret Nr. 71 auftauchen und klären weshalb die ÖPP-Projekte nicht profitabel sind und untersuchen ob der „Neueste ÖPP-Entwurf“ Vietnam näher an profitable Projekte bringen kann oder nicht.

Warum ist die aktuelle ÖPP-Gesetzgebung nicht profitabel?

In einem ÖPP-Projekt ist die Finanzierbarkeit eine Sache der öffentlichen Hand, der Privatwirtschaft und der Kreditgeber. Ganz einfach gesagt, ein Projekt wird als profitabel angesehen, wenn die Kreditgeber willig sind es zu finanzieren. Der Begriff der „Profitabilität“ wird meist im Zusammenhang mit ÖPP Projekten genutzt und bezieht sich in erster Linie darauf, dass man den Bedingungen und Anforderungen der Kreditgeber gerecht wird, denn ohne deren finanziellen Unterstützung kann ein ÖPP-Projekte nicht fortgesetzt werden.
Kreditgeber sind primär daran interessiert, dass ihr Kapital abgesichert ist und dass es die Möglichkeit gibt in den Vertrag einzutreten, sowie die Möglichkeit zu haben nicht vertragsgemäß handelnde Parteien aus dem Vertrag auszuschließen mit der Möglichkeit Eigenkapital während und nach der Errichtung zu transferieren. Da die Kreditgeber Standardanforderungen haben um ihre Rechte zu sichern, zum Beispiel Grundpfandrechte an den Anteilen oder alternative Garantien, falls sie ein ÖPP-Projekt finanzieren, muss ein ÖPP-Vertrag wasserdicht sein und ungeachtet aller Eventualitäten muss es möglich sein die Kreditgeber auszubezahlen.

Wie bereits erwähnt, die aktuellen ÖPP-Regulierungen in Vietnam führen nicht dazu das ÖPP-Projekte, wenn sie einmal angefangen haben, profitabel werden und sie ziehen weder Inverstoren an noch Kreditinstitute was uns zu den Hauptproblemen führt, wie zum Beispiel des limitierten Eintrittsrechts des Kreditgebers, Garantien von ausländischen Währungen, die Nutzung von ausländischen Rechtsvorschriften, die Möglichkeit der staatlichen Unterstützung und Garantien.

Eintrittsrechte
Der bisherige Entwurf des ÖPP-Dekrets hat als Voraussetzung, dass alle Bedingungen, Verfahren und Inhalte welche von Kreditgebern ausgeübt werden können vorher von der dafür zuständigen staatlichen Agentur genehmigt werden müssen. Allerdings gibt es keine Definition bezüglich der autorisierten staatlichen Agentur und deren Genehmigungsverfahren. Es bleibt also fraglich ob der unterzeichnete Vertrag zwischen dem Investor und dem Staat unter den Anwendungsbereich dieser Genehmigungspflicht fällt. Eine solche Anforderung schränkt das Recht der Kreditgeber ein und macht ein ÖPP-Projekt nicht profitabel.

Ausländische Währungsgarantien
Die meisten Infrastrukturprogramme in Vietnam sind solche die ihre Produktion in vietnamesische Dong verkaufen müssen während bei langfristigen Finanzierungsprogramen nur in ausländischer Währung gehandelt wird. Das bereitet die größte Hürde für die Profitabilität von ÖPP-Projekten. Weiterhin sehen die gegenwärtigen ÖPP-Regularien keine staatlichen Garantien vor, zum Beispiel, dass der Wechselkurs gleich bleibt in Bezug auf Dong zu Dollar, und das die Verfügbarkeit und Umtauschbarkeit zum Dollar sichergestellt werden könnte. Das Fehlen solcher Garantien macht die Projekte wiederum nicht profitabel.

Geltendes Recht
Das anwendbare Recht ist ein weiteres Problem der Profitabilität. Momentan ist bei staatlich finanzierten Projekten die Rechtswahl meist vietnamesisches Recht. Vietnamesisches Recht wird zwar meistens angewendet, trotzdem ist der Gesetzgebungsrahmen im nicht vergleichbar mit anderen Rechtssystemen, wie zum Beispiel mit dem englischen. Die limitierten rechtlichen Möglichkeiten geben Kreditgebern nicht die Sicherheit die sie brauchen um Kapital in diese Projekte fließen zu lassen.

Beleihung von Land
Nach vietnamesischem Recht werden Investoren davon befreit Pacht oder sonstige Gebühren für Grundstücke zu zahlen. Trotzdem erlaubt das „Land Recht“ keine Hypothek auf Land welches nicht vollständig abgezahlt ist. Diese Einschränkung wird derart interpretiert, dass bei ÖPP-Projekten unterschieden wird zwischen denen, bei denen Eigentum am Land besteht und denen bei denen das Land gemietet werden muss. Für letzteres ist ein Bank-Darlehn dann weitaus unattraktiver und des Weiteren muss die Hypothek, welche aufgenommen wird, noch von den zuständigen staatlichen Stellen genehmigt werden.

Neues ÖPP-Recht in Vietnam: Richtiger Schritt zu profitablen Projekten?

Nach den Erfahrungen der ADB (Asian Development Bank) muss der Staat sich für eine größere Reform bereit machen, wenn ÖPP-Projekte erfolgreich abgeschlossen werden sollen. Es muss sichergestellt werden, dass die Privatwirtschaft eine Möglichkeit hat mitzuentscheiden. Weiterhin muss der Staat sich stärker an die Verträge binden und ÖPP-Projekte bei der Planung und bei einer erfolgreichen Umsetzung unterstützen, inklusive einer Analyse der eigentlichen Werte. Es bedarf außerdem einer Bündelung von Ressourcen damit die kritische Masse erreicht wird und es eine gewisse Beständigkeit gibt in den Versuchen und der Zurverfügungstellung von finanzieller Unterstützung. Das beinhaltet, jedoch nicht abschließend, staatliche Maßnahmen um Mehr-Jahres-Verträge abzuschließen, kreditfeste Unterstützungen und verantwortungsvolles Management der steuerlichen Verpflichtungen der jeweiligen ÖPP.

Aus dem Inhalt des „Neuester ÖPP-Entwurfs“ kann man entnehmen, dass die Meinungen von internationalen Ratgebern, multilateralen Einrichtungen, Spendern und Wirtschaftsverbänden einen positiven Einfluss auf die Entwürfe gehabt haben und die Regierung sich aktiv darum bemüht mit diesem Entwurf zukünftige ÖPP-Projekte profitabel zu machen.

Erwähnenswert ist, dass frühere Limitierungen für staatliche Beteiligungen entfernt worden sind. Anstelle dessen bietet das Neue ÖPP-Recht dem Staat eine Beteiligung, welche je nach finanzieller Beteiligung am jeweiligen Projekt variiert, sofern es von der staatlichen Behörde genehmigt wird. Diese Entwicklung ist bemerkenswert und spiegelt das Engagement der vietnamesischen Regierung, den Privaten Sektor zu unterstützen in den Versuch die vietnamesische Infrastruktur zu verbessern, wider.

Der „Neuester ÖPP-Entwurf“ stärkt die Eintrittsrecht der Kreditgeber durch den Wegfall der Genehmigung durch staatliche Behörden. Es bietet dem Kreditgeber mehr Möglichkeiten sein Kapital zu schützen, indem der Kreditgeber die Kontrolle hat, nicht vertragsgemäß handelnde Vertragspartner aus dem Vertrag zu entlassen. Trotzdem bedarf es auch in diesem Entwurf weiterhin der staatlichen Kontrolle damit der Vertrag zustande kommt, dieses Merkmal ist jedoch verhandelbar. Da eine solche Voraussetzung die Vertragsunterzeichnung verhindern kann, können die Vertragsparteien keinen Vertrag abschließen ohne eine klare Antwort seitens der staatlichen Behörde.

Nach dem „Neuesten ÖPP-Entwurf“ bleibt vietnamesisches Recht weiterhin das anwendbare Recht, aber wenn es sich um ausländische Rechtsanwendungen handeln sollte, kann dies auch vereinbart werden. Der Entwurf macht deutlich wann Projektverträge nach ausländischem Recht behandelt werden sollen, vorwiegend in den Fällen, in denen eine ausländische Partei und eine staatliche Agentur involviert sind. Ein ausländisches Schiedsgericht kann vereinbart werden, wenn es sich um Fälle handelt, bei denen ein ausländischer Investor beteiligt ist oder aber auch bei staatlich-gestützten Garantieverträgen. Der Entwurf bestimmt außerdem, dass Streitigkeiten vor einem Schiedsgericht entschieden werden sollen, wenn der Vertrag dies vorsieht und es sich um eine finanzielle Streitigkeit handelt und das ausländische Schiedsgericht anerkennt, dass in Vietnam geurteilt wird und dieses Urteil auch in Vietnam vollstreckt werden soll. Diese Entwicklung ist einer früheren Diskussion geschuldet, welche sich um die Anerkennung und Umsetzung ausländischer Schiedsgerichte drehte in Bezug auf das Fehlen von „finanziellen Streitigkeiten“ im Rahmen der aktuellen Gesetzgebung in Bezug auf Anerkennung und Umsetzung.

Gleichzeitig gewährt der „Neueste ÖPP-Entwurf“ dem Kreditgeber das Recht, Immobilien, Landnutzungsrechte und Handelsrecht auf Projektanlagen zu verpfänden. Weiterhin wird garantiert, dass das Land während der gesamten Laufzeit in der es für das Projekt genutzt wird, auch nur für dieses genutzt wird, selbst wenn der Kreditgeber von seinem Eintrittsrecht Gebrauch macht. Die Voraussetzung, dass eine staatliche Behörde zustimmen muss, in Bezug auf die Hypothek, wurde entfernt. Diese neue Entwicklung ist sehr positiv für die Investoren und die Kreditgeber und damit auch für die Profitabilität. Nichtdestotrotz, der „Neueste ÖPP-Entwurf“ gibt nur Garantien in Bezug auf die Hypothek, welche mit der Nutzung des Landes verknüpft ist und dem damit verbundenen Zivilrecht Vietnams – es wird jedoch nicht auf das Recht eingewirkt inwiefern Gebühren oder Mieten zu zahlen sind. Der Entwurf sollte dieses Problem beinhalten, da eine positive Lösung sich in diesem Zusammenhang auch positiv auf die Profitabilität auswirken würde.

Ein anderer wichtiger Faktor in Bezug auf die Profitabilität ist die ausländische Währungsgarantie bzw. Devisengarantie. Einerseits garantiert der Staat eine Balance zwischen der ausländischen Währung und der Landeswährung und ist der Ansicht, die Geldnachfrage in Abhängigkeit von der wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Situation gerecht zu werden. Anderseits gibt es keine Garantie auf stabile Wechselkurse. In der Realität sieht es so aus, dass der Staat versucht die ausländischen Währungen so gering wie möglich zu halten. Diese Limitierung verhindert gemeinsam mit der normalen Fluktuation und einer möglichen rückläufigen Währung, dass das Projekt vorankommt. Ein Beispiel aus Kasachstan kann als Verdeutlichung genommen werde um aufzuzeigen was passiert, wenn es keine Währungsgarantie gibt. Die kasachstanische Regierung hat sich bereit erklärt für den Wertverlust aufzukommen, wenn der Tenge (Kasatansche Währung) unter fünf Prozent seines Wertes während des Erlaubniszeitraumes fällt. Das ist ein wichtiger Ansatzpunkt, da in Kasachstan die Währung eher instabil ist und die Zentral Bank früher oder später einen Verlust von ca. 19% erwartet. Das bedeutet, wenn die Regierung Garantien verhindern wird unter dem Neuen ÖPP-Recht, dann wird das bei den Investoren mehr Befürchtungen hervorbringen und somit Projekte verhindern. Es ist in diesen Fällen schwer für den Investor zu sehen, ob das Projekt das Risiko auch wirklich wert ist.

Zusammenfassend ist zu sagen, dass der „Neueste ÖPP-Entwurf“ gut ausgearbeitet ist und Vietnam kommt dem Ziel näher, profitable ÖPP-Projekte zu verwirklichen. Insbesondere da dieser Entwurf keine Limitierung bzgl. der maximalen staatlichen Beteiligung vorsieht – das ist ein wahrer Durchbruch. Wenn alle diese Entwürfe wirklich in das geltende Recht implementiert werden, hätte das zur Folge, dass das ÖPP-Recht deutlich verjüngt wird. Unterdessen verabschiedet die Regierung Maßnahmen welche die Verwirklichung von ÖPP-Projekten erleichtern. Die Regierung hat kürzlich eine Aufstellung veröffentlicht welche alle ausländischen Investoren aufzählt, welche versprochen haben in die Entwicklung zu investieren.
In der Realität kommt es jedoch wie immer auf die Qualität der Umsetzung an.

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