Category Archives: Vietnam – Public Private Partnerships

Playing by the rules: what is the value of the Singapore Infrastructure Dispute-Management Protocol in Vietnam?

Can a new Singapore dispute resolution protocol spur efficient infrastructure development in Vietnam?  It’s a question worthy of examination considering a slew of high-profile disputes, delays and cost overruns on major infrastructure projects in Vietnam in recent years.  Even more so considering forecast needs to spend more than US$300 billion on infrastructure in Vietnam over the next decade in order to serve the needs of Vietnam’s rapidly growing economy.

The answer is not clear cut.  While the protocol has clear prima facie value, the current legal framework in Vietnam isn’t supportive of a key fundamental principle: that outcomes of the process are binding on the parties.  However the time is right, and opportunity is ripe, for Vietnam to embrace the concept and make bold policy decisions backed up with legislative action.

New roads, bridges, ports, and power plants are all in high need in Vietnam and the government is hard at work improving the PPP legislation to facilitate and foster the conditions for successful projects.  Many such projects are complex and challenging, with numerous parties involved, and thus prone to disputes, or simply just differences of opinions that need resolving in order that works can complete. As a result, time spent developing, agreeing and implementing dispute resolution terms between involved parties is time well spent.  However it can also be inefficient and often unnecessary for parties to agree bespoke terms on a case-to-case basis.

Cognisant of the issues, and also no doubt sensing a potential market, a number of governmental and non-governmental organizations have developed best-practice standards, protocols and clauses that project investors and contractors can look to for support.  The latest comes from Singapore’s Ministry of Law, keen to cement Singapore’s reputation as a hub for all things infrastructure in Southeast Asia.  The Singapore Infrastructure Dispute-Management Protocol (SIDP) was launched in October 2018 and is intended to help parties involved in large infrastructure projects manage disputes and minimise the risks of time and cost overruns, thus maximizing chances of efficient delivery of infrastructure.

The SIDP doesn’t hide its ambition to serve mega projects, stating in its preamble that it is “designed and recommended for construction or infrastructure projects of more than S$500 million in value”.  Only a relatively small number of projects in Vietnam would fit that criterion though that doesn’t mean that concepts and recommendations underpinning the SIDP couldn’t be replicated by smaller projects.

So, what’s so good about the SIDP? Perhaps the most highlighted feature of SIDP is that it places a heavy emphasis on preventing disputes, or at least de-escalating differences, through detailed procedural terms and collaborative tools.  When parties agree to adopt the SIDP as their dispute resolution protocol, they must appoint a Dispute Board (DB) right at the outset of the project. The DB need not consist of lawyers, but can comprise industry experts and can vary from a single-person board to a multiple-member panel. The DB commences pro-active work right after establishment in the form of regular meetings and site visits.

While regular meetings are quite common in other dispute protocols, site visits are a relatively new feature.  Pursuant to the SIDP, a DB will conduct at least three site visits every 12 months unless otherwise agreed by the parties. The site visits aim at early detection of any potential problems. After each meeting and site visit, the DB will prepare a report with recommendation for early dialogue on real or potential issues, as necessary.

If the DB becomes aware of any differences between parties through site visits or upon request of the parties, the DB may move one step further by interviewing senior representatives of the parties to try to clarify, scope, and articulate the ambit of the differences. Such interviews are relatively informal with a view to enabling the DB to provide recommendations for specific processes or measures to resolve differences, ideally before they blow up or become entrenched or intractable.  These features represent the sensible underlying philosophy of the SIDP, in contrast with more traditional dispute resolution methods, that a ‘stitch in time saves nine’.

That is not to say that the SIDP doesn’t have teeth.  Should the parties involved feel the need to refer a dispute directly to the DB, a number of options are open for the DB to resolve the dispute, including by issuing an opinion on the matter in question or bringing the parties together for formal mediation.  Crucially, the SIDP provides that such opinions or results of mediation are binding on the parties.

There is no question that the SIDP is a well-conceived and thorough tool of great value to large infrastructure project participants. But how would it work in practice in Vietnam?

Operationally there is no reason to doubt that it would work just as intended.  The big issue for Vietnam is around the fundamental agreement of the parties that a DB decision or opinion or a DB-facilitated mediated agreement can be binding on the parties.  Without that, the efficacy of the protocol as a whole is called into doubt, at least from a purely legal perspective.

Take for example a case where a Singaporean-domiciled construction company provides services to a Vietnam-domiciled entity and the parties agree to use the SIDP to manage and resolve disputes.  Imagine that the parties do in fact effectively implement the SIDP during the course of their relationship, resulting in the DB handling a dispute and giving its opinion on the same (or facilitating a mediated settlement between the parties on the same).  Imagine further that the result of that process, agreed to by the parties, is that the Vietnam entity owes $100 million to the Singapore entity. The SIDP itself provides and envisages that the result of the SIDP process is automatically binding on the parties and that the courts of Singapore can act to enforce the same in the event that the Vietnam entity fails to comply.

The fact is however that there is currently no clear mechanism to enforce that against the Vietnam entity in Vietnam.  Vietnam law contains no terms that would enable the Singapore company to automatically enforce the DB decision, or a mediated settlement, against the Vietnam company in Vietnam.  The Singapore company could seek, and presumably obtain, a Singapore court award against the Vietnam entity enforcing the DB decision but then what?  In the absence of a formal bilateral judicial assistance treaty between the two countries, no special option under their bilateral investment treaty, and rare circumstances where a case for reciprocity might be made, there is essentially nil chance that authorities in Vietnam would act to recognize or enforce the Singapore court judgment in Vietnam under Vietnam law. One only has to look at the extreme difficulties international companies have had enforcing foreign arbitral awards in Vietnam – something for which there is an express legal mechanism in Vietnam law – to know that it would be mission impossible to enforce a foreign court decision.

As long as this remains the status quo in Vietnam, the true value of the SIDP in Vietnam is in doubt.  While there is inherent value in pro-actively managing, identifying and resolving disputes, if the final “agreed binding” outcome is, for all intents and purposes, worthless, why go to the bother in the first place?

Of course this is an extreme position and mega infrastructure projects tend to have many facets to them that count in favour of commercial settlements (not least of all government to government links that can add a political element to resolving disputes).  But lenders, contractors and their lawyers are duty bound to consider the harsh legal realities which currently speak against assuming that the SIDP can be an effective tool for use in Vietnam projects, especially where purely local counterparts are involved.

The time is right then for the government of Vietnam to take bold action, similar to its recent ISDS commitments in the CPTPP, to enable private commercial agreements on use of tools like the SIDP to mean something when push comes to shove.  Actions like this are a vital key to unlocking the private funds necessary to finance Vietnam’s vast infrastructure needs.

The opportunity also happens to be on the table right now in the form of a new UN convention on enforcement of international settlement agreements. Otherwise known as the Singapore Convention on Mediation, the convention would do for mediation what the New York Convention does for arbitration: provide an avenue to directly invoke and enforce mediated agreements in Vietnam, ostensibly without the courts re-examining the issues or interfering.  The Singapore Convention on Mediation was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2018 and will come into force when signed by at least three States. A signing ceremony for the Convention is expected to take place in August 2019 in Singapore.  One hopes Vietnam will be at the table.

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For more information about Vietnam infrastructure projects please contact Giles at GTCooper@duanemorris.com.  Giles is co-General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC and branch director of Duane Morris’ HCMC office.

Vietnam’s draft new solar tariffs – more sun, less cents, more sense

A new proposed tariff structure for solar energy projects in Vietnam sets out different rates for different irradiation regions and gives long-awaited indication of direction for the market after 30 June 2019.  On 29 January 2019, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (“MOIT“) released parts of a draft decision to update the country’s current feed in tariff (FiT) structure which is only valid until 30 June 2019 (the “Draft”).

The Draft is of course still just that, a draft, but forecasts a clear change in strategy with respect to FiTs.

Under the current FiT policy (regulated by Decision 11 and Decision 16) there is only one FiT for all projects regardless of location.  That is an internationally respectable FiT of 9.35 US cents per kWh for all on-grid solar power projects that achieve commercial operation date (“COD”) prior to 30 June 2019 (with the exception of some projects in Ninh Thuan province which have a later COD timeline).

The Draft however sets out a wide range of differing FiTs that vary based on: (i) when COD happens, (ii) location (3 regions are identified based on solar irradiation data), and (iii) the type of solar projects (i.e., floating, ground-mounted, integrated storage system or rooftop solar).

The table below shows what the Draft contemplates:

Projects with COD from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020

 

Solar power types Region 1 (see regions below)

(28 northern provinces with annual solar irradiation of up to 1,432.8 kWh/m2/year)

Region 2

(6 central provinces of Vietnam with annual solar irradiation of up to 1,676.1 kWh/m2/year)

Region3

(29 central highlands and southern provinces of Vietnam with annual solar irradiation of up to 1,910.3 kWh/m2/year)

VND / kWh US cent equivalent VND / kWh US cent equivalent VND / kWh US cent equivalent
Floating solar power projects 2,135 9.35 1,838 8.05 1,612 7.06
Ground-mounted solar power projects 2,095 9.18 1,802 7.89 1,583 6.94
Solar power projects with integrated storage system N/A N/A N/A N/A 2,052 8.99
Rooftop solar power projects 2,448 9.85 1,933 8.47 1,697 7.43
Projects with COD from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021

 

Floating solar power projects 2,028 8.88 1,746 7.65 1,531 6.71
Ground-mounted solar power projects 1,990 8.72 1,712 7.50 1,504 6.59
Solar power projects with integrated storage system N/A N/A N/A N/A 1,949 8.54
Rooftop solar power projects 2,023 8.86 1,740 7.62 1,527 6.69

 

While no changes will please everyone, especially the many developers who have committed considerable resources based on assumptions of the current FiT rate, the changes still indicate strong support for solar power projects generally and a rational approach to reflect the markedly different irradiation levels across the country.  Such an approach should take some pressure of heavily-stretched Southern hotspots (stretched from both power infrastructure and bureaucratic bottleneck perspectives).

We will continue to monitor this and update further as possible.  Meanwhile, we’d be delighted to hear views from developers and financiers about the change of strategic policy direction and FiTs forecast by the Draft.  Get in touch and tell us what you think.

Region 1: comprising 28 northern provinces of Vietnam with annual solar irradiation of 1,225.6 – 1,432.8 kWh/m2/year or daily solar irradiation of 3.36 – 3.92 kWh/m2/day. Including: Ha Giang, Bac Kan, Cao Bang, Tuyen Quang, Thai Nguyen, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Lang Son, Quang Ninh, Phu Tho, Vinh Phuc, Bac Giang, Hai Duong, Hoa Binh, Hanoi, Ha Nam, Bac Ninh, Hung Yen, Hai Phong, Ninh Binh, Thai Binh, Ha Tinh, Nam Dinh, Quang Binh, Thanh Hoa, Lai Chau, Nghe An and Son La.

Region 2: comprising 6 central provinces of Vietnam with annual solar irradiation of 1,456 – 1,676.1 kWh/m2/year or daily solar irradiation of 3.99 – 4.59 kWh/m2/day. Including: Quang Tri, Dien Bien, Thua Thien Hue, Quang Nam, Da Nang and Quang Ngai.

Region 3: comprising 29 central highlands and southern provinces of Vietnam with annual solar irradiation of 1,703.9 – 1,910.3 kWh/m2/year or daily solar irradiation of 4.67 – 5.23 kWh/m2/day. Including: Kon Tum, Ca Mau, Hau Giang, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Bac Lieu, Kien Giang, Soc Trang, Gia Lai, Can Tho, Vinh Long, Tra Vinh, Dak Lak, Khanh Hoa, Lam Dong, Ben Tre, Tien Giang, An Giang, Dak Nong, Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai, Dong Thap, Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Long An, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan.

For more information about Vietnam’s solar and renewable energy sectors, please contact Giles at GTCooper@duanemorris.com, Tran Thanh at MTTran@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.

新規PPP関連法が立てうる、ベトナムのインフラ開発への道筋

著者:Giles T. Cooper

翻訳:志澤政彦(Masahiko Shizawa)

原文:https://blogs.duanemorris.com/vietnam/2018/06/19/will-a-new-ppp-law-pave-the-way-for-vietnams-infrastructure/

インフラというボトルネックに、ベトナムの急成長が直面している。政府には、今まさに必要な道路、鉄道、トンネルに資金を投下できるほどの予算がない。そこで専門家が目を向け始めているのは、民間セクターである。

この制約がある以上、非国家セクターの資金を輸送インフラ開発のため継続的に活用することが今すぐ必要となる。アジア開発銀行(ADB)によれば、2015年から2020年までの間のインフラへの投資のため、ベトナムは最大170億米ドルを必要とするだろうとのことである。

近年、ベトナム政府は官民連携(PPP)プログラムの下で投資プロジェクトに透明性を与えるよう進めてきた。PPPは、政府機関と民間投資家が協同してなす投資の一形態であり、インフラの建設、修復、運営、並びに管理、及び公共サービスの提供のために行われる。政府はPPPにより、開発目標達成のため民間セクターの効率性と専門性を活用することができる。

そうはいっても、そうしたプロジェクトの持続的な実施を阻む欠点や限界があり、現状で名乗りを上げるのに投資家は慎重を期している。

投資を勧奨する政令が提出されてきてはいる。しかし、その条件は魅力的とはいえず、そのようなプロジェクトに必要な柔軟性がないとの批判もある。PPP投資活動の主な規制は以前、PPP投資に関する政令15/2015/ND-CP号及び入札法の実施指針である政令30/2015/ND-CP号であった。

この国は、1990年から2016年までに総額162憶米ドルにも及ぶ84件のPPPプロジェクトを実施してきている。うち79%はエネルギー関連のものであった。 一方、2011年のPPPパイロットプログラムが制定されて以来、この法的枠組みを利用した新規PPPプロジェクトは一切登録されていない。

政府は最近、政令15/2015を改正し、ベトナムにおけるPPPプロジェクトの分野、投資条件、手続を特定した政令63/2018(政令63)を発行した。この新たな政令により、PPPプロジェクトにおける投資家の資本比率が20%にまで引き上げられる。政令63は2018年の6月に施行された。

これで十分といえるか

BOT(Build-Operate-Transfer)方式とBT(Build-Transfer)方式のプロジェクトに対する調査・監査結果によれば、そのほとんどにおいて、投資家選定の際の入札が限定され、低い競争性と透明性の欠如を招いたとのことである。また、プロジェクトの通知は未だにオープンな方法で実施されていない。

同時に、プロジェクト実施の管理は非効率的であり、建設作業の低質化等の様々な問題を引き起こしている。

これらの問題に対応して投資を促進するため、ベトナム国会は政府に、上記のような難点や法的制限を取り払うようなPPP関連法を作るよう求めた。

PPP関連法の成功に必要な3要素

  • 明確なリスク共有メカニズム

当局は未だ、政府がデベロッパーのため一定の最低収益を保証し、それに至らない場合に補填するようなリスク共有メカニズムを、明確に打ち出してきてはいない。この点は、プロジェクトがしばしば重大なリスクを伴うインフラの場合には特に重要である。規制の明確さにより投資家の信頼を得られるのではないだろうか。

現状のモデルでは、ほとんどのリスクを民間セクターに転嫁してしまっている。民間の投資家や事業者の誘致には、透明性のある政策枠組みと公平なリスク分配が鍵である。同様に、明確に定義されたプロジェクトの射程と期待できる金銭的な利益の適切な保証を伴った魅力的な取引のストラクチャーによって、PPPへの参加が奨励されるものと思われる。

  • 為替レート保証

長期的な融資は外貨によってなされるものの、ベトナムのインフラプロジェクトの収益は現地通貨ベトナムドンによる。これだと、プロジェクトの収益性に負の影響をもたらす。新たなPPP関連法を成功に導くには、長期的な建設プロジェクトの中で投資家が同等の交換レートを確保できるよう、政府による兌換保証メカニズムを盛り込む改善が必要となろう。

海外への外貨送金の制限も縮小される必要があろう。

こうした障害や通貨変動のリスクは、投資家の信頼に大きな影響を与える。これらを取り除くことが、この国の継続的前進に必要な種類のプロジェクト誘致に重要であろう。

  • 金銭的インセンティブ

典型的な長期投資であるインフラプロジェクトには、投資家に巨大な建築に必要な20年から30年もの間の関与をさせるため、対価としての追加のインセンティブや収益の保証が必要となろう。

このリスクを相殺するために、政府は開発の波及的効果の一部を投資家に報いることを考えてもよいだろう。インセンティブがあれば、収益が交通の流れや将来の予測不可能な状況に依存するといった、インフラ開発に内在的な不確実性を減らすことができるだろう。

要するに、やる気のある投資家の誘致にベトナムが必要なのは、信頼できる政策及び規制、加えて投資家の信頼を得られるようなPPPに特化した政府部門といった、透明性、公平性、予測可能性を確保できる枠組みである。

ライフサイクルコスト、安全性、レジリエンス(強靭性)、そして環境への影響といったその他の要素も、考慮される必要がある。

ベトナムのインフラ開発への需要は揺るぐまい。しかし、現状の立法状況が実現可能または収益性のあるPPPプロジェクトに繋がるとはいえない。PPP関連法の上述のような点をクリアにすれば、透明性を向上し、この国に目を向けている事業体のリスクを減らし、もって状況の改善が見込めるだろう。

ベトナム投資に関する情報については、GTCooper@duanemorris.comよりGiles弁護士または当事務所の弁護士一覧の弁護士にお問い合わせください。Giles はドウェイン・モリス・ベトナム法律事務所の共同代表であり、ドウェイン・モリス・ホーチミン支所の支所代表です。

ベトナム:インフラ開発のジレンマにグリーンボンドは効くか著者:Giles T. Cooper

翻訳:志澤政彦(Masahiko Shizawa)

原文:https://blogs.duanemorris.com/vietnam/2018/05/15/are-green-bonds-the-answer-to-vietnams-infrastructure-dilemma/ 

ベトナムを含む東南アジア諸国では、急成長とともに安定した資金源の確保が困難になってきた。

このことは、インフラ事業において顕著である。アジア開発銀行(ADB)の報告書によると、経済成長に伴い、2030年までにこの地域では2.8兆米ドルに相当する道路、橋梁、鉄道が必要になるとされている。

不安定さを増す政治情勢に直面している東南アジア諸国は、この先数年のインフラ開発の資金調達の選択肢としてより安全なものに目を向けている。「一帯一路」政策の下ですでに1兆米ドルものプロジェクトを支援してきた中国への過剰依存は、国内的解決策を経済が志向するにつれ、その規模が縮小されていくものであろう。従前に表明した境界線を踏み越えようとする中国の計画への恐怖は、資金の不正流用及び失敗したプロジェクトという具体的教訓と相まって、この地域周辺の国々に「一帯一路」の活用の再考を迫ってきた。

南シナ海の領域問題をめぐる政治的緊張及び増加傾向にある国際的な保護主義を前に、ベトナムのような国々は将来的な資金調達を自前で行う途を探る方向でいる。この地域全般で国家予算への負担は増加傾向にあり、この先数年で強く求められる成長のため投下すべき他の資金元を探そうとしている。一つの提案は、「グリーンボンド」の発行促進である。

「グリーンボンド」について知らなければならないこと

グリーンボンドは債券の一つであるが、発行者によって調達された資金は「グリーン」なプロジェクト、つまり、環境に配慮し、気候への懸念を考慮に入れたものに割り当てられる。グリーンボンドの発行が特に利益になるセクターは、再生可能エネルギー、インフラ、および建設業界である。

道路、橋梁、トンネル、そして鉄道の建設には、地域的及び全国的な気候に多大な負担をかけてしまう。そのため、環境フットプリントの低減を志向するプロジェクトの優先度は最も高い。

環境に配慮したプロジェクトに資金調達を集中させることに加えて、グリーンボンドは発行者の持続可能な開発への取り組みの深さを強調する意義もある。さらに、発行者はグリーン・ベンチャーにのみ投資をする特定のグループのグローバル投資家にアクセスできるようになる。国外のプレーヤーによるグリーンな投資への注目が高まっている中、資本調達のコスト削減にも貢献しうる。

ベトナムにとって意味するものとは

ドイツの開発機構であるGIZによれば、現在の炭素依存的成長からより持続可能な道筋へと移行し、その約束草案(Intended Nationally Determined Contribution、INC)に向けた行動をとるため、ベトナムは2020年までにおよそ307億米ドルを必要としている。

グリーンな成長のための資金のうち30%程度は国家予算、すなわち中央と各省の予算及び政府開発援助、からの拠出が見込まれているが、残りは民間セクターから供給されることとなるとみられる。

ベトナム政府が2011年から2020年の期間について承認したベトナム・グリーン成長戦略(Vietnam Green Growth Strategy, VGGS)の下では、資本市場がその目標達成のカギとなるだろう。グリーンボンドが死活的な役割を果たすのは、まさにこの点においてである。グリーンなプロジェクトや事業体のため特別に資金調達を行い、グリーンな商品のデリバティブの流通の素地を作り、さらに民間セクターの投資を持続可能な開発のため活用することになる。

国外からの関心としては、ベトナムのグリーンボンドの発行により、持続可能な開発、再生可能エネルギー、そして環境に配慮した成長を志向している国際投資家の誘致が期待されている。世界中の投資家が、気候変動の課題やエネルギーの移行につき、前にも増して注視している。環境問題を考慮に入れた投資ツール、特に開発途上国におけるものについて要求する投資家は、増加の一途を辿っている。

この地域で、ベトナムが持続可能な資金調達の見通しを見据えている唯一の国というわけではない。アセアン・グリーンボンド基準(ASEAN Green Bonds Standards、AGBS)が2017年11月に開発・実行され、アセアンでのグリーンボンドの発行に共通の基準が制定された。マレーシア、シンガポール、インドネシアの会社は、すでにアセアン・グリーンボンドと称された債券を発行している。

これらのグリーンボンドの発行によって調達された資金は、再生可能エネルギー、廃棄物処理、グリーンな建築物やインフラといった、持続可能性の要件を満たしたプロジェクトに配分され、さらに統合、連帯、アセアン全体の成長といった共通の目標に貢献するものである。何よりも、地域のリーダーたちは将来世代の犠牲のもとに成長は成り立たないことに気づいてきている。AGBSのような新たな取り組みが、環境に配慮した投資への資源の分配を促進するだろう。

成長不全を来しているグリーンな成長

2020年までに達成されるべき指標の一つは、グリーンボンド市場を、現在およそ90兆米ドルのグローバル債券市場の少なくとも1%にまで拡大することである。これを現実のものとするため、ソブリン債発行者は断固たる決断をする必要がある。

流動性の欠如、債券の構造の限定的な多様性、及び確実に収益の見込めるプロジェクトの定期的で大きな流れの不在といったものが、未だにアジアの現地通貨によるグリーンボンド市場の特徴である。

加えて、社会的責任を果たそうとしている投資家からの恒常的な要求はまだ限定的であり、この市場の成長の可能性を阻んでいる。

そうはいっても、ソブリン債発行者が環境を整備し、強力な枠組みが適用される限り、現地通貨でのグリーンボンド市場の成長の見込みは大きい。制約となりうるのは、確実に収益の見込めるグリーンな投資の数と大きさであろう。

もしベトナムが「グリーンボンド」の動きを十全に活用しようとするなら、上述したような方法での資金の注入が解決策を示してくれるだろう。それは、インフラ事業における資金調達の穴を埋め、より速い拡張に向けた基礎を固め、そして、これまで長い間痛めつけてきた環境には休息をもたらすものであるはずだ。

ベトナムのグリーンボンドに関する情報については、GTCooper@duanemorris.comよりGiles弁護士または当事務所の弁護士一覧の弁護士にお問い合わせください。Giles はドウェイン・モリス・ベトナム法律事務所の共同代表であり、ドウェイン・モリス・ホーチミン支所の支所代表です。

What’s next for green energy in Vietnam – 4 steps to the future

Now that the United States has retreated from the Paris Climate Accords, and relinquished its leadership role in the fight against climate change, it remains to be seen whether smaller nations will stick to their pledges of greenhouse gas reduction.

Eyes are on countries like Vietnam to see if they keep to their commitments or revert to the pursuit of cheap and dirty coal-powered solutions for their energy needs.

Vietnam, in particular, faces some of the biggest risks. Global warming is a major threat to the country, where rising sea levels are predicted to swallow up nearly half of the Mekong Delta, a crucial area for domestic food production, in coming decades.

Currently, coal-fired plants in Vietnam contribute to thousands of premature deaths and air quality in big cities is getting worse. In 2017, the capital Hanoi enjoyed just 38 days of clean air, with contaminant levels four times those deemed acceptable by the World Health Organization.

Business as usual?

Unlike Obama, the Trump administration seems unlikely to apply any real pressure on other countries to pursue clean energy or combat climate change, and so it will be up to domestic forces to really push for change.

According to the government’s current national plan, electricity generated from coal will rise five-fold between now and 2030, and GHG emissions will increase in lockstep. This is at odds with Vietnam’s pledge to the Paris Climate Accord, which targets 8 percent emissions reduction by 2030, and could rise as high as a 25 percent reduction with international support, such as financing for solar panels and wind turbines.

Energy and environment experts worry that the country’s next national power development plan, which is under revision this year, could hold to those figures or, worse, embrace a more aggressive coal strategy.

The story, however, is not all doom and gloom. Vietnam does have the potential to become a regional clean energy leader, if only the country’s energy development and investment environment can be reshaped. Business involvement in this process will be crucial, as the commercial and industrial sectors consume more than 60 percent of Vietnam’s electricity.

Khanh Nguy Thi, founder of the Vietnamese nonprofit Green Innovation and Development Centre, recently won the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize for her work convincing state agencies to increase their use of renewable energy. Her efforts were instrumental in halting the construction of two hydropower plants in a national park and securing a 20,000 MW reduction in planned coal expansion.

Government leaders have also demonstrated a desire to utilise Vietnam’s abundant sunlight and over 2,026 miles of coastline in the pursuit of renewable energy.

4 solutions for a sustainable energy sector

Clearly, clean energy opportunities are available, the question is how to encourage more investment. Obstacles persist with the regulatory environment, preventing the country from tapping its potential in this area. Here are four small changes which could bridge the gap between policy and implementation, ensuring the green energy dream becomes a reality:

  1. Streamline regulations regarding Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) and support the use of Direct Power Purchase Agreements (DPPA).

Negotiating standard PPAs with EVN, the sole power purchaser, is time-consuming, which cause rising total project costs. The streamlining of such deals would render them more attractive to power producers and cut lengthy approval time, which often leads to execution delays or complete abandonment of projects.

USAID and Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade are working together to enable private sector electricity buyers and renewable energy providers to enter into DPPA. This would allow industrial energy buyers to purchase electricity directly from independent renewable energy producers.

Such a mechanism would help companies enjoy constant power prices and ultimately save power costs. By signing a long-term DPPA to buy power from a clean energy generator, businesses can have a constant power price, reducing risk and helping firms establish long-term business plans with no surprises down the road.

  1. Improve the transparency of electricity rate forecasting.

Electricity prices will have to increase in order for Vietnam’s national utility to finance new energy projects, but the schedule for such increases remains vague. Better transparency of expected price increases will allow buyers and investors to more accurately value fixed-cost renewable energy contracts, which can offer some price protection.

Additionally, improving the quality and sourcing of data on renewable energy can help clarify for investors available locations, infrastructure capabilities and government targets, as well as other information to help reduce risk on investment decisions.

  1. Encourage supporting industries.

Supporting industries plays a crucial role in the development and adoption of renewable energy technologies. The government should promote domestic SMEs through capital subsidy and incentives such as tax breaks and preferential loans. A competitive supporting industry will help in reducing the tariff and investment costs for renewable projects, nurturing their development as part of Vietnam’s energy sector.

  1. Develop a renewable energy model for industrial parks.

Given the expectation that industrial areas will continue to play a big role in Vietnamese manufacturing and commerce, these parks are an important place to explore renewable solutions. Aggregating demand from tenants in the parks would help scale clean energy and make it more affordable for all.

Green power pioneer

Renewable energy has the capacity to power Vietnam and with the right policies in place, the country can deliver affordable, safe and clean power for continued economic growth.

Vietnamese businesses and the government could chart an unprecedented course for clean energy, and represent a role model for Southeast Asia — if they can address some key barriers. The changes detailed above would help drive the country’s energy transition toward a sustainable, greener future, and demonstrate that the fight against climate change can continue without American leadership.

For more information about Vietnam’s renewable 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.

Will a new PPP law pave the way for Vietnam’s infrastructure?

Fast-growing Vietnam is facing an infrastructure bottleneck. With the state lacking the budgetary might to finance the nation’s much-needed highways, tracks and tunnels, experts are increasingly looking towards the private sector to fill in the financial shortfall.

 

Amid such constraints, the continuing mobilisation of financial resources from non-state sectors for transport infrastructure development is urgently necessary. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Vietnam will need up to US$17 billion for infrastructure investment between 2015 and 2025.

 

In recent years, the Government has made moves to create a transparent legal framework for investment projects, under the public-private-partnership (PPP) programme. PPP is a form of investment between a government agency and a private investor for projects in construction, renovation, operation and management of infrastructure, as well as the provision of public services. Through PPP, governments can leverage efficiencies and expertise in the private sector to achieve their development goals.

 

However, shortcomings and limitations plague the sustained implementation of such projects and investors are wary of signing up in the current climate.

 

Although a number of decrees have been put forward to facilitate investment, critics have noted that the environment is not attractive and investors are not granted the necessary flexibility regarding these projects. PPP investment activities were regulated by Decree 15/2015/ND-CP on PPP investment and Decree 30/2015/ND-CP guiding the implementation of some articles of the Law on Bidding, as well as several other documents.

 

From 1990 to 2016, the country completed 84 PPP projects amounting to US$16.2 billion, with 79 percent of the projects in the energy sector. However, since the issuance of the PPP pilot programme in 2011, no PPP project has been signed under this framework. Compared with regional neighbours, foreign investment in infrastructure in Vietnam is lagging behind.

 

Recently, the government issued Decree 63/2018 (Decree 63), replacing Decree 15/2015, specifying the areas, investment conditions, and procedures for PPP projects in Vietnam. The new decree increases the investor equity ratio for PPP projects to 20 percent. Decree 63 takes effect in June this year.

 

Does this go far enough?

 

Inspection and audit results on build-operate-transfer (BOT) and build-transfer (BT) projects showed that most applied limited tendering in choosing investors, leading to low competitiveness and a lack of transparency. Meanwhile, the announcement of projects has yet to be implemented in an open manner.

 

At the same time, the supervision of projects’ implementation has been ineffective, leading to low quality construction works and many other problems.

 

In response to this range of issues, Vietnam’s National Assembly has requested that the government come up with a PPP law that removes such difficulties and legal restrictions in order to promote this form of investment.

 

3 things a successful PPP law should include

 

  1. A clear risk-sharing mechanism

 

Authorities have yet to clarify a risk-sharing mechanism in which the government guarantees a certain minimum revenue flow for the developer, agreeing to top it off if it isn’t met. This is especially important in the case of infrastructure, where projects can often carry significant risk. Some regulatory clarity would help investor confidence.

 

The current model transfers most of the risk on to the private sector. To attract private sector investors and operators, a transparent policy framework and fair allocation of risk are key. Similarly, attractive deal structures with a clearly defined project scope and adequate guarantees on the expected financial return will help to encourage participation in PPP deals.

 

  1. Exchange rate guarantees

 

Vietnam’s infrastructure projects will sell their output in the local currency, the Vietnamese dong, while long-term financing will be provided in a foreign currency. This has a negative impact on the bankability of such projects. A new and successful PPP law would need to improve on this point by including a mechanism for government guarantees of convertibility, so investors can be sure of the same exchange rate over the course of a long-term construction project.

 

Limitations on the remittance of foreign currencies overseas will also need to be scaled back.

These obstacles, and the risk of currency fluctuations, have a big impact on investor confidence. Their removal would go a long way in attracting the kind of projects needed to keep the country moving.

 

  1. Financial incentives

 

As a typically long-term investment, infrastructure projects will need added incentives and guarantees on return in order for investors to make the 20-30 year commitments required for big constructions.

 

To offset the risk, the government could look to rewarding investors with part of the spillover effect of development. Incentives could help to reduce the uncertainty inherent in infrastructure development, where revenues can depend on traffic flows and unpredictable circumstances in the future.

 

In short, to attract willing investors, Vietnam needs a framework that ensures transparency, fairness and predictability, including reliable policies and regulations as well as specialised PPP branches of government that investors can trust.

 

Other factors, like life cycle cost, safety, resilience and environmental impact also need to be taken into account.

 

The demand for infrastructure development in Vietnam is robust, but the legislative environment is not currently conducive to the signing of PPP projects that are viable or bankable. Clarification in the form of a PPP law that covers the above points would improve the situation by increasing transparency and reducing risks for enterprises eyeing the country.

 

For more information about investment 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’s Special Economic Zones – sorting fact from fiction

A significant amount of recent media coverage has been devoted to the subject of special economic zones (SEZs) and controversies surrounding their establishment in Vietnam. Faced with mounting public anger, Vietnam had delayed a final decision on the establishment of three new SEZs.

 

Economic zones are not a new phenomenon, with 18 coastal economic zones and 27 border economic zones already present in Vietnam. The establishment of these areas was part of the country’s early economic reforms and they were designed to offer a range of incentives to investors, including free tariffs on selected items, lower personal income tax and reduced rent and fees. There are a further 325 state-supported industrial parks, which offer a more limited range of incentives.

 

What is an SEZ?

 

An SEZ is a designated area in a country that is subject to unique economic regulations that differ from other areas in the same country. Such areas are used to convey financial and legal advantages on businesses and encourage them to invest. SEZs are one of the most widely used methods to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), and have been deployed successfully around the world.

 

The Vietnamese government has shown a strong desire to develop SEZs, where it hopes relaxed regulations will in turn spearhead regional and national growth. This issue has been high on the agenda, especially at a point where the country needs breakthrough institutional reforms to maintain its growth momentum.

 

To ensure the success of SEZs in Vietnam, the Ministry of Planning and Investment studied experiences from 13 other countries around the world with both successful and failed SEZ development models. Based on that research, a model for SEZ development suitable for Vietnam’s economic conditions was drawn up in the new Law on Special Administrative-Economic Zones.

 

At a cost of VND1.5 trillion (US$66 billion), three new SEZs were proposed for the provinces of Quang Ninh and Khanh Hoa, as well as on the southern resort island of Phu Quoc. As per the plan, investors were to be offered greater incentives and fewer restrictions than available in other parts of the country, kickstarting investment. The freedom from local regulations is expected to make them competitive internationally and foreigners were to be lured with tax breaks and streamlined routes to permanent residency.

 

Notably, based on the specific geographic advantages of the three SEZs, the MPI proposed several preferential industries to focus on and develop for each zone, including high-tech sectors, tourism and trade.

 

The development of Phu Quoc in particular is high on the agenda, as the government has highlighted its potential as a commercial, service and trade hub which adheres to international standards. Indeed, land prices shot up on Vietnam’s largest island following news that it was slated to become an SEZ and authorities stepped in to suspend land use conversions and land transfers in the zones until a new SEZ law is passed.

 

Among infrastructure projects planned for Van Don, in the northern province of Quang Ninh, is an international airport which would connect the area with other Asian cities such as Shenzhen, Shanghai and Hong Kong. This is in line with the government’s plans to establish Van Don as a tourist hub.

 

Courting controversy

 

The draft legislation on the new SEZs submitted to the National Assembly earlier this year sparked concern over an article allowing land in the three special zones to be leased by foreign investors for up to 99 years.

 

Critics of the bills say allowing foreigners to own land for nearly a century could pose serious threats to the country’s national security, with simmering tensions over the South China Sea an ominous backdrop to the proposals.

 

Attempting to allay concerns, the Prime Minister announced that the 99-year term would be reconsidered. Even so, approval of the plan has been pushed back until the next session of the National Assembly so that kinks can be ironed out.

 

Unfortunately, reducing such terms could limit the ability of SEZs to attract foreign investment. Experts have argued that such provisions are essential to incentivise and stabilise long-term investment projects. Extended timeframes for land allocation are crucial to attract the big investors required to ensure success of the zones. In comparison, legislation in other countries allows significant extensions when investing in an SEZ.

 

Other issues raised include the generous tax incentives, which could breed unhealthy competition, and a lack of consideration for environmental issues.

 

Investing in three SEZs at the same time is a risky gamble for Vietnam and requires careful management and resource distribution to ensure their success. Quibbles over the details risk unsettling investors, and watering down attractive land use and tax policies could doom the endeavour before it’s begun.

 

The development of SEZs should be considered a framework for testing economic reforms for the economy as a whole, creating spillover effects and building experience to perfect institutions.

 

A reform-oriented mindset and willingness to experiment with incentive models will be crucial in bringing the SEZs to life. More thought will be needed to address the concerns of voters, but lawmakers shouldn’t lose sight of the need to incentivise investors with radical ideas.

 

For more information about investment 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 Update] New PPP Decree to come into effect on 19 June

The Government of Vietnam issued the new Decree 63/2018/ND-CP on Investment in Form of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) replacing the old PPP Decree 15/2015/ND-CP, which was viewed by many as nonfunctional.

The new Decree appears to remove the requirement for investors to obtain an investment registration certificate before establishing a PPP project company. It also contains procedures on converting existing public projects to PPP projects aside from other revised provisions. In tandem, the Investor Selection (Bidding) Decree is expected to be revised as well. Those who are engaged in infrastructure projects in Vietnam may want to review how to apply both new decrees in practice.

For more information, please contact Manfred Otto at  MOtto@duanemorris.com or any other lawyer you are regularly communicating with at Duane Morris.

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.

ベトナム新PPP政令が6月19日から施行される

ベトナム政府が官民連携(PPP)投資形態に関する政令63/2018/ND-CP号を発行しました。これをもって、殆ど機能しなかったとみられる旧PPP政令15/2015/ND-CPが無効となります。

新政令により、PPP事業会社設立前に投資家が取得しなければならなかった投資登録証明書が不要となった様子です。既存の公共事業をPPPプロジェクトに切り替える手続きなどの条項も含まれています。合わせて投資家選定(入札)に関する政令も改正される予定です。ベトナムでインフラ・プロジェクトに携わっている方々が、両新政令が実務上にどのように応用できるかについて検討されるべきでしょう。

詳細につきましては、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られている弁護士へご連絡ください。

〈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、当事務所の注意書きをご一読下さい。

Are green bonds the answer to Vietnam’s infrastructure dilemma?

For many countries across Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, the rapid pace of growth has meant that finding stable sources of funding can be a struggle.

 

This is particularly true in the case of infrastructure. According to a report by the Asian Development Bank the region will need up to US$2.8 trillion worth of roads, bridges and railways by 2030 to keep up with economic growth.

 

Faced with an increasingly unstable political climate, Southeast Asian nations are looking at safer options to fund their infrastructure developments over the coming years. Over-reliance on China, which has already backed nearly US$1 trillion worth of projects under its ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, will likely be scaled back as economies turn to domestic solutions. Fears of China’s plan overstepping its stated bounds have caused countries around the region to rethink their embrace of the ‘belts and roads’, with instances of financial misuse and failed projects serving as cautionary tales.

 

Political tensions over territorial claims in the South China Sea and increasing international protectionism are also causing countries like Vietnam to seek self-sufficiency in future financing. State budgets across the region are coming under growing strain, so leaders are looking elsewhere to fund much-needed development over the coming years. One proposition is to promote the issuance of ‘green bonds’.

 

What you need to know about ‘green bonds’

 

A green bond is like any other bond, however the funds raised by the issuer are earmarked for ‘green’ projects, or in other words, those that are environmentally-friendly and take climate concerns into account. Particular sectors that stand to benefit most from the issuance of green bonds are renewable energy, infrastructure and construction.

 

Building roads, bridges, tunnels and tracks takes a huge toll on the climate, both locally and nationally, thus projects which seek to lessen their environmental footprint are a top priority.

 

On top of concentrating funding towards environmentally-friendly projects, green bonds also highlight the issuer’s commitment to sustainable development. Additionally, they provide issuers access to a specific set of global investors who invest only in green ventures. With the increasing focus of foreign players towards green investments, it could also help in reducing the cost of capital.

 

What does this mean for Vietnam?

 

According to German development agency GIZ, Vietnam will need roughly $30.7 billion by 2020 to move its current carbon-dependent development onto a more sustainable path, and towards its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INC).

 

Some 30 percent of the credit for green growth is expected to come from the state budget, consisting of central and provincial funds as well as official development assistance (ODA), whilst the remainder will be sourced from the private sector.

 

Under the Vietnam Green Growth Strategy (VGGS), approved by the government for the 2011-2020 period, the capital market will be key in achieving the country’s targets. It is here that green bonds will be vital – raising funds specifically for green projects and enterprises, creating a platform for green products’ derivatives trading, as well as tapping into private sector investment for sustainable development.

 

In terms of foreign interest, Vietnam’s issuance of green bonds is hoped to attract international investors with an orientation towards sustainable development, renewable energy and environmentally-friendly growth. Investors around the world are increasingly attuned to the challenges of climate change and the energy transition. More and more of them are clamoring for investment tools that take environmental issues into account, especially in the developing world.

 

Vietnam is not the only country in the region to see the promise of sustainable funding. With the ASEAN Green Bond Standards (AGBS) developed and launched in November 2017, common standards were laid down for the issuance of ASEAN green bonds. The AGBS label is to be used only for issuers and projects in the region and specifically excludes fossil fuel-related projects. Companies in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have already issued bonds labelled as ASEAN Green Bonds.

 

Funds raised from these green bond issuances will be allocated to projects such as renewable energy, waste management, green buildings and infrastructure, which meet sustainability criteria and contribute to the common goals of integration, connectivity and overall ASEAN growth. Primarily, regional leaders are realising that growth cannot come at the expense of future generations. Initiatives like the AGBS will help in the allocation of resources towards climate friendly investments.

 

Stunted green growth

 

One of the milestones to be achieved by 2020 is to expand the green bond market to at least 1 percent of the global bond market, currently about US$90 trillion. For this to happen, sovereign issuers must be completely on board.

 

Asia’s local currency green bond market is still characterised by a lack of liquidity, limited diversification of bond structures, and the absence of a large regular stream of bankable projects.

 

Additionally, consistent demand from socially responsible investors is still limited, hampering the market’s growth potential.

 

There is, however, a lot of potential for growth in the local currency green bond market, as long as sovereign issuers establish an enabling environment and a strong framework is applied. The key constraint will be the number and size of bankable green investments.

 

If Vietnam fully embraces the ‘green bond’ movement, an injection of funds in this manner could prove a panacea – patching up the infrastructure funding gap, laying the foundations for more rapid expansion and ensuring the long-suffering climate gets a breather.

 

For more information about Vietnam’s green bonds, 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.