Tag Archives: CPTPP

Vietnam – Mining Action Plan – Issues and Solutions – Impact of the Major Trade Agreements CPTPP, EUVNFTA and Investment Protection Agreement

A. Outlook

Vietnam´s mining industry is still largely undeveloped. Most operations are insufficient and harm the environment. However, there is great potential due to the variety of unexploited mineral resources. The discovery and mining of new minerals can be significantly facilitated with Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). This provides the opportunity to use international, modern, efficient, sustainable and secure technologies for the procedure. This implementation would have a huge impact on Vietnam’s economic growth and would lead to a reduction of public debt.

For most countries in the world, mining has been the cornerstone of economic growth and infrastructural development. It has been estimated that only about 10 percent of Vietnam’s base metal and precious metal resources have been discovered so far. This is because the country has so far never been methodically researched with modern technologies and the right know-how to find deeper, richer or larger deposits. The focus of the Vietnamese mining industry has been almost exclusively on less expensive, easily findable or near-surface energy materials such as coal and bulk commodities such as iron ore, bauxite, sand and limestone.

Vietnam’s largest state-owned mining company is Vinacomin. According to their estimates, more than 1.500 mining companies are registered in Vietnam, of which about 55% are state-owned, 36% by private Vietnamese companies and only 9% by foreigners.

B. Lack of technology

Vinacomin is the first company to acknowledge the major shortcomings and confirmed the existence of obsolete technologies, lack of mechanization, inadequate infrastructure, large workforce but with low productivity, excessive energy consumption, high safety deficiencies and unacceptable environmental pollution. In Decision No. 2356-TKV of 15 June 2016, Vinacomin has now set its priority on technological innovation.

The challenge, therefore, is to modernize the Vietnamese mining industry and make innovative technologies accessible. To do this, the government must create incentives to encourage investors, otherwise FDI’s hardly ever come to Vietnam.

C. Government´s mining policies and issues

The current mining policy in Vietnam has two major weaknesses. First, the existing laws are unstructured and are therefore applied inconsistently. There is some evidence that there are conflicting interpretations of fees, tariffs, environmental protection fees, product quality and to it related mining taxation issues between local regional authorities and ministries such as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance.

Second, Vietnam is one of the countries with the highest taxes on mining worldwide. This has a negative impact on investments in modern technologies and technological innovations. All of this leads to further problems such as the continuation of inefficient and wasteful mining practices, the deterioration of well-known mineral deposits and the environment of Vietnam as well as the increase of illegal mining and tax evasion. Vietnam’s royalties, export duties and other charges are far above other comparable countries. As an example, the royalty for nickel is 10%, but other minerals such as tungsten and gold have even higher license rates. Many mining projects therefore fail due to lack of sufficient profitability.

Positively, there is, however one exception. A hitherto highly successful project of modern technologies and international standards on a Vietnamese mining operation is the Nui Phao. This is the largest tungsten production mine in the world to date, contributing significant value to Vietnam’s economy by converting the ore into purified chemical products before exporting. However, as with all mining projects, future development will depend on the continued evolution of global commodity prices, variability of ore grades, mining conditions, etc., and therefore the prohibitively high taxes themselves may jeopardize this project.

The reasons for the high taxation are to some extent comprehensible or the background can be explained. Hereby the aim is, to maximize benefits for the government and Vietnam´s economy. However, this can not be achieved if the taxes are so high that mines are closed because they are not profitable. As a result, this leads to a change to the contrary, namely to the loss of valuable tax revenue, because first, the tax revenue source for the government is lost (mining companies) and secondly, the number of people trying to circumvent the tax rules increases. The former also leads to the loss of legal employment opportunities.

D. Solutions and conclusion

A solution to the above mentioned conflicting legislation could be to create clear and unambiguous legal regulations. Alternatively, there is a possibility to be practice-oriented and to ensure a uniform application of the law through state support in advising the mining industry and coordinating intergovernmental departments. The effectiveness of this coordination and the associated transparency would be a clear incentive for the providers of FDI as well as for strong local investors.

Regarding the high taxes for mining, the problem can be solved by a fair tax system for the government and investors. The taxes should simply be reduced, which means no negative consequences for Vietnam’s economic budget (see above).

The advantages associated with the solutions are obvious. It goes without saying that the richest mineral deposits are located in more remote and mountainous areas. The population in these areas is usually characterized by particular poverty and the infrastructure is in need. A modern mining project would have a positive impact on both. On the one hand, every mining project creates a large number of jobs, local goods are promoted and orders are distributed to service providers. On the other hand, the infrastructure will develop significantly, because modern and efficient mining is hardly possible without a good infrastructure, so that the construction companies are forced to build the infrastructure itself.

To sum it up, there are essentially three solution concepts. First, existing mining legislation could be revised and more transparent, clearer, investor-friendly rules could be created. Second, state co-ordination of law enforcement can be established to ensure a consistent and effective application of the relevant rules. Third, a fair tax system for government and investors likewise should be created.

E. Outlook on Major Trade Agreements TPP 11, EUVNFTA and Investment Protection Agreement

In January 2017, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the US’ participation in the TPP. In November 2017, the remaining TPP members met at the APEC meetings and concluded about pushing forward the now called CPTPP (TPP 11) without the USA. The provision of the agreement specified that it enters into effect 60 days after ratification by at least 50% of the signatories (six of the eleven participating countries). The sixth nation to ratify the deal was Australia on 31 October 2018, therefore the agreement will finally come into force on 30 December 2018. Recently, on the 12th November 2018, Vietnam has officially become the seventh member of the CPTPP.

The CPTPP is targeting to eliminate tariff lines and custom duties among member states on certain goods and commodities to 100%. The Agreement could bring the needed FDI to the mining industry in Vietnam. Hence new mining methods and better technologies will be introduced to the mining industry and this will lead to the spare of environment. To be able to benefit from the TPP 11, Vietnam has to amend its mining regulations, particularly, the above mentioned taxes and royalty rates must be reduced.

One another notable major trade agreement is the European Union Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EUVNFTA). The EUVNFTA offers great opportunity to access new markets for both the EU and Vietnam and to bring more capital into Vietnam due easier access and reduction of almost all tariffs of 99%, as well as obligation to provide better conditions for workers, which is a key aspect in terms of working at mining projects. In addition, the EUVNFTA will boost the most economic sectors in Vietnam. Due to this significant boost, the government might reconsider its mining tax regulations. If that step will be eventually taken, there are good prospects for investors that bring modern technologies and international standards to the country, that their mining project will be successful just as the Nui Phao operation is.

To enable at least some parts of the FTA to be ratified more speedily at EU level, the EU and Vietnam agreed to take provisions on investment, for which Member State ratification is required, out of the main agreement and put them in a separate Investment Protection Agreement (IPA). Currently both the FTA and IPA are expected to be formally submitted to the Council in late 2018, possibly enabling the FTA to come into force in the second half of 2019.

Furthermore, the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) will ensure highest standards of legal certainty and enforceability and protection for investors. Every investor should use these standards. It is going to be applied under the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA. Under that provision, for investment related disputes, the investors have the right to bring claims to the host country by means of international arbitration. The arbitration proceedings shall be made public as a matter of transparency in conflict cases. In relation to the TPP, the scope of the ISDS was reduced by removing references to “investment agreements” and “investment authorization” as result of the discussion about the TPP’s future on the APEC meetings on 10th and 11th November 2017.

Further securities come with the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), which is going to be part of the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA. The GPA in both agreements, mainly deals with the requirement to treat bidders or domestic bidders with investment capital and Vietnamese bidders equally when a government buys goods or requests for a service worth over the specified threshold. Vietnam undertakes to timely publish information on tender, allow sufficient time for bidders to prepare for and submit bids, maintain confidentiality of tenders. The GPA in both agreements also requires its Parties assess bids based on fair and objective principles, evaluate and award bids only based on criteria set out in notices and tender documentation, create an effective regime for complaints and settling disputes, etc.

This instrument will ensure a fair competition and projects of quality and efficient developing processes.

If you have any question on the above, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Thank you very much!

Vietnam – Healthcare and Medical Devices – Investment – With Outlook on the Major Trade Agreements CPTPP, EUVNFTA and Investment Protection Agreement

A. Overview of the future of Vietnam´s healthcare sector

There is no denying that Vietnam truly is an attractive investment destination in South East Asia. It has great potential to develop a qualitative, self-sustaining life science sector. Improvements on the healthcare sector will lead to several benefits. With increasing focus on healthcare, manufacturing, service providers, clinical research organizations and others are being stimulated. As a result, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are boosted and exports could replace the need for foreign aid by attracting sustainable FDIs and PPPs.

Of particular importance for a positive development is the close cooperation between the major stakeholders from the private and public sector. In this process, certain core goals should be set. Significantly, it is important to ensure swift, sustainable access to medical treatment and to urgently improve the quality of the treatment process. High-quality domestic treatments not only improve patient satisfaction but also improve one’s own economy by counteracting outgoing medical tourism.

Furthermore, it should be ensured that the existing investors remain in Vietnam and new ones are pulled ashore. To do this, investors must be shown that the Vietnamese market does not contain undetected risks, but is stable and predictable. Further, integrate opportunities for collaborations and partnerships to develop local capability.

B. Outpatient: Home care and home-treatment

One major issue regarding Vietnams Healthcare sector is the limited capacity in hospitals. There is a gap between bed capacity and demand of inpatient treatment. The Minstry of Health has his hands full to counteract the overloading of hospitals. Even institutions with larger bed capacity have eventually set up a home care service to enhance the follow-up monitoring of chronic and long-term illnesses for patients that have been released from the hospital.

The patients in Vietnam are financially overburdened with the costs of treatment, therefore affordable treatment is needed. This however, has to be reached without the loss of quality. Especially the indirect costs of healthcare, such as travelling, meals during hospitalization and loss of income during treatment put patients and their families under enormous financial pressure. Due to the overload and the fact, that the home care services are not fully developed yet, patients tend to take care for themselves with the help of their family. This causes eventually potential additional health complications due to the lack of professional follow-up. Furthermore, patients will return often back to the hospital and subsequently, in some cases, with more severe conditions.

The healthcare expanses are moreover, as in almost every country, a significant burden for the household.

Overall, professional homecare programs and access to them should be simplified and improved to counteract hospital congestion. This is especially necessary for the chronically ill. Home care and home-treatment can help to reduce public spending on chronic diseases and thus spare the health budget. At the same time, easier access helps the chronically ill.

C. Implementation

There are two major requirements for putting the whole thing into practice. Firstly, the creation of a clear legal framework. It contains incentives for small and large scale investors and creates transparency. This encourages multinational companies to invest and transfer their know-how to Vietnam, eventually ultimately work closely with the local companies. Secondly, to streamline the administrative process to shorten the process of delivering new, high-quality patient care solutions, and to respond to the growing need for a growing Vietnamese population for rapid and sustainable access.

D. Medical Devices Industry Code of Conduct

Background of the Code of Conduct for medical devices are the various risks associated with the industry, in particular unfair competition between industry players. The Code is intended to facilitate ethical interactions among members of society who develop, manufacture, sell, distribute or distribute medical technology in Vietnam and individuals and organizations that apply, recommend, buy or prescribe medical technologies in Vietnam. The content of the Code of Conduct should focus on 1) strict compliance with laws and regulations in the area; 2) prioritization of people and health and safety of patients and 3) promoting scientific and educational activities to best benefit the patient.

For multinational companies, the compliance area is usually very pronounced and strict. It is therefore particularly important to invest in an ethical business environment, especially when investing in high-risk jurisdictions. The commitment to uphold high ethical standards would certainly bring about long-term benefits for the health sector in Vietnam and attract more investors.

E. Outlook on Major Trade Agreements TPP 11, EUVNFTA and Investment Protection Agreement

In January 2017, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the US’ participation in the TPP. In November 2017, the remaining TPP members met at the APEC meetings and concluded about pushing forward the now called CPTPP (TPP 11) without the USA. The provision of the agreement specified that it enters into effect 60 days after ratification by at least 50% of the signatories (six of the eleven participating countries). The sixth nation to ratify the deal was Australia on 31 October 2018, therefore the agreement will finally come into force on 30 December 2018. Recently, on the 12th November 2018, Vietnam has officially become the seventh member of the CPTPP.

The CPTPP is targeting to eliminate tariff lines and custom duties among member states on certain goods and commodities to 100%. An increase of trade will have great influence to the health- and medical sector. The agreement is suitable to support Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs), which could lead to a positive impact in development of innovative technologies of medical devices and facilitate the transfer of necessary know-how. Lower or no trade tariffs can lead to lower import costs for the essential components of medical devices. This, in turn, results in lower acquisition costs for the medical practices and hospitals, thus eventually lowering the treatment costs.

The annexes of the CPTPP (TBT chapter) deal with specific challenges of trading regarding pharmaceuticals, medical devices and technology products. The provisions commit the Members to define what medical products are and when they are subject to the state laws. These information have to be published. Furthermore, the annexes will help to optimize regulatory approvals and make the regulations clearer. Authorization decisions are made based on certain risk-based criteria. Moreover, the regulations help to ensure timely mitigation measures if a product application is not approved or is deemed deficient. Due to this new transparency, and the tariff elimination, the CPTPP will bring great benefits for all traders of medical devices, employees in the medical industry as well as for patients.

A specific example would be, that Canada currently faces tariffs of 7% imposed by Vietnam regarding exports of life sciences products such as medicines in doses for retail sale. With the agreement to become effective, these tariffs will be fully eliminated. As a result, Canada and other countries are exporting more and more products to Vietnam, gradually improving equipment in Vietnam’s medical facilities.

One another notable major trade agreement is the European Union Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EUVNFTA). The EUVNFTA offers great opportunity to access new markets for both the EU and Vietnam and to bring more capital into Vietnam due easier access and reduction of almost all tariffs of 99%, as well as obligation to provide better conditions for workers. In addition, the EUVNFTA will boost the most economic sectors in Vietnam. Both agreements promise great benefits for the health- and medicine sector.

To enable at least some parts of the FTA to be ratified more speedily at EU level, the EU and Vietnam agreed to take provisions on investment, for which Member State ratification is required, out of the main agreement and put them in a separate Investment Protection Agreement (IPA). Currently both the FTA and IPA are expected to be formally submitted to the Council in late 2018, possibly enabling the FTA to come into force in the second half of 2019.

Furthermore, the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) will ensure highest standards of legal certainty and enforceability and protection for investors. These standards should be used by every investor. It is going to be applied under the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA. Under that provision, for investment related disputes, the investors have the right to bring claims to the host country by means of international arbitration. The arbitration proceedings shall be made public as a matter of transparency in conflict cases. In relation to the TPP, the scope of the ISDS was reduced by removing references to “investment agreements” and “investment authorization” as result of the discussion about the TPP’s future on the APEC meetings on 10th and 11th November 2017.

Further securities come with the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), which is going to be part of the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA. The GPA in both agreements, mainly deals with the requirement to treat bidders or domestic bidders with investment capital and Vietnamese bidders equally when a government buys goods or requests for a service worth over the specified threshold. Vietnam undertakes to timely publish information on tender, allow sufficient time for bidders to prepare for and submit bids, maintain confidentiality of tenders. The GPA in both agreements also requires its Parties assess bids based on fair and objective principles, evaluate and award bids only based on criteria set out in notices and tender documentation, create an effective regime for complaints and settling disputes, etc.

This instrument will ensure a fair competition and projects of quality and efficient developing processes.

If you have any question on the above, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Thank you very much!

Vietnam – Power Energy Action Plan – With Outlook on the Major Trade Agreements CPTPP, EUVNFTA and Investment Protection Agreement

A. Overview of the Power Master Plan 8

Vietnam contains huge potential regarding the production of clean energy. It has best conditions for developing solar power due to being one of the countries with the most sun hours during the year and best conditions for creating wind power due to 3000km coastline. As a result, Vietnam in general, is able to attract many Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) for developing clean energy projects.

Therefore, the aim of the current Power Master Plan 8 (PMP8) is to develop power sources, in which renewable energy (wind, solar, bio) will be prioritized, in order to stepwise increase the proportion of electricity generated from renewable energy sources. Core elements are to establish links between international and domestic companies. Thus, the international finance and technology should be connected to the domestic banks and the expertise of domestic companies. In addition, a market must be developed that attracts large-scale companies and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) equally.

Furthermore, there will be improvements to the solar power market and the Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) model, which could apply from 1 July 2019. If the PPA is improved to meet the standards of international and domestic banks, the cost of financing solar power plants can be reduced. Feed-in tariffs could provide 2 billion USD in foreign investment in solar energy by 2020.

The new PPA should focus on the key areas termination payments, curtailment and failure to take or pay by Vietnam Electricity (EVN), dispute resolution / arbitration clauses and the application of the feed-in-tariff for 20 years the PPA for new solar projects, which reach their commercial operation date by 30th June 2021 with a reduced feed in tariff. These improvements should equally apply to the standard PPAs for wind power, biomass and waste to energy.

In addition, a government market-driven electricity price system should be created, which includes a welfare state price system and thus supports low-income citizens. To make this possible, the price for the middle class has to be raised. Furthermore, the need for government guarantees must be reduced. In order to counteract electricity wastefulness, incentives for private sector investment in distributed clean energy generation and energy efficiency with fair and transparent electricity tariffs are necessary.

With regard to the price of electricity, there will be essentially three types of movement. First, the daytime hourly tariff will be redesigned for commercial and industrial consumers. This is intended to reduce the peak load of the transmission system and transmission losses. Second, regional differences in retail tariffs are developed. Third, a market-based electricity tariff is set, which contains flexible regulations and thus allows adjustments and increases in efficiency.

It will be important for the government to upgrade transmission and distribution. A regulator regime is to build, which allows and encourages construction and use of bio-mass, solar, wind and other clean sources of power generation for private and public users – office, residential, manufacturing, communities, and industrial – small scale and large scale, and to speed up decision making and set predicative procedures to encourage development of off shore gas, LNG, efficiencies, and renewables.

B. Future recommendations for VL Direct Power Purchase Agreement

The Application of PPA should be extended and even used for commercial power consumers (offices, hotels, resorts and supermarkets), hence they can reduce their electricity costs. The project aim should be to make a major investment in clean energy generation. Guidelines could be to reach at least 300MW of new clean energy generation in 2018/2019 and to invest about 400 Million USD.

The Electricity Regulatory Authority of Vietnam (ERAV) and EVN must define as soon as possible a so-called “wheeling fee”. Wheeling is the transportation of electric energy (megawatt-hours) from within an electrical grid to an electrical load outside the grid boundaries. At least for the first 5 years of operation the fee should be fixed. Afterwards, an increase is possible in agreed in conjunction with business groups and WE.

C. Outlook on Major Trade Agreements TPP 11, EUVNFTA and Investment Protection Agreement

In January 2017, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the US’ participation in the TPP. In November 2017, the remaining TPP members met at the APEC meetings and concluded about pushing forward the now called CPTPP (TPP 11) without the USA. The provision of the agreement specified that it enters into effect 60 days after ratification by at least 50% of the signatories (six of the eleven participating countries). The sixth nation to ratify the deal was Australia on 31 October 2018, therefore the agreement will finally come into force on 30 December 2018. Recently, on the 12th November 2018, Vietnam has officially become the seventh member of the CPTPP.

The CPTPP is targeting to eliminate tariff lines and custom duties among member states on certain goods and commodities to 100%. This will make the Vietnamese market more attractive due to technology advances, reduction of production costs and because of the high demand on renewable energy. Sustainable environments are a primary concern of the CPTPP agreement.

An increase of trade should not mean negative influence to the environment. In contrary, due to the increased focus on the need for energy efficiency and reduced emissions renewable energy could experience a crucial growth. The agreement is suitable to support Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs), which could lead to a positive impact in development of innovative technologies and alternative energy sources. Lower or no trade tariffs can lead to lower import costs for the essential components of renewable energy production. This, in turn, results in lower investment costs and lower production costs, thus increasing the cost-effectiveness of introducing renewable energy technology.

One another notable major trade agreement is the European Union Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EUVNFTA). The EUVNFTA offers great opportunity to access new markets for both the EU and Vietnam and to bring more capital into Vietnam due easier access and reduction of almost all tariffs of 99%, as well as obligation to provide better conditions for workers, which is a key aspect in terms of working at power plants. In addition, the EUVNFTA will boost the most economic sectors in Vietnam. Moreover, the EUVNFTA will provide certain tax reductions to 0% for clean technology equipment as well as equal treatment for companies. Due to easier opportunity on making business, trade and sustainable development will be a good consequence for an even more dynamic economy and even better investment environment in Vietnam in general and especially in the power/energy industry.

Both agreements promise great benefits for the energy sector in Vietnam and will help the PMP8 to connect international to domestic companies. The elimination of the tariff lines and custom duties are advantages to major companies and SMEs alike.

To enable at least some parts of the FTA to be ratified more speedily at EU level, the EU and Vietnam agreed to take provisions on investment, for which Member State ratification is required, out of the main agreement and put them in a separate Investment Protection Agreement (IPA). Currently both the FTA and IPA are expected to be formally submitted to the Council in late 2018, possibly enabling the FTA to come into force in the second half of 2019.

Furthermore, the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) will ensure highest standards of legal certainty and enforceability and protection for investors. We alert investors to make use of these standards! We can advise how to best do that! It is going to be applied under the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA. Under that provision, for investment related disputes, the investors have the right to bring claims to the host country by means of international arbitration. The arbitration proceedings shall be made public as a matter of transparency in conflict cases. In relation to the TPP, the scope of the ISDS was reduced by removing references to “investment agreements” and “investment authorization” as result of the discussion about the TPP’s future on the APEC meetings on 10th and 11th November 2017.

Further securities come with the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), which is going to be part of the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA. The GPA in both agreements, mainly deals with the requirement to treat bidders or domestic bidders with investment capital and Vietnamese bidders equally when a government buys goods or requests for a service worth over the specified threshold. Vietnam undertakes to timely publish information on tender, allow sufficient time for bidders to prepare for and submit bids, maintain confidentiality of tenders. The GPA in both agreements also requires its Parties assess bids based on fair and objective principles, evaluate and award bids only based on criteria set out in notices and tender documentation, create an effective regime for complaints and settling disputes, etc.

This instrument will ensure a fair competition and projects of quality and efficient developing processes.

If you have any question on the above, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Thank you very much!

Rechtsanwalt in Vietnam Dr. Oliver Massmann – Sektor Infrastruktur und Abfallbehandlung – Aktuelle Themen und Lösungen für Investitionen und Ausblick auf die wichtigsten Handelsabkommen CPTPP, EUVNFTA und das Investitionsschutzabkommen

A. Überblick

Die Sektoren der Abfallbehandlung und Infrastruktur in Vietnam sehen sich verschiedenen Schwierigkeiten gegenüber. Die Abfallbehandlung ist in Vietnam ein vorrangiger Sektor, da die städtische Umgebung in den großen Provinzen dringend gereinigt werden muss. Dies führt zu einem dringenden Bedarf an Abfallbehandlungsprojekten. Die Anreize für Sponsoren sind jedoch begrenzt. Insbesondere verhindert eine Verordnung für Projekte zur Behandlung fester Abfälle, dass der von den Sponsoren erzielte Gewinn um mehr als 5% steigen kann, was sich negativ auf die finanzielle Tragfähigkeit der Projekte auswirkt.

In Bezug auf die Infrastruktur gibt es zwei Hauptprobleme. Erstens gibt es nur wenige Möglichkeiten für Sponsoren, Kapital für Infrastrukturprojekte zu beschaffen. Abgesehen von der traditionellen Projektfinanzierung haben Sponsoren von Projekten in Vietnam kaum andere Möglichkeiten, Kapital dafür zu beschaffen. Zweitens steckt die Entwicklung energieeffizienter Gebäude in Vietnam noch in den Kinderschuhen. Gebäude sind und bleiben die größten Stromverbraucher. Nur rund 100 Gebäude sind jedoch nach Green Building (GB) zertifiziert. Eine moderne, effiziente Infrastruktur ist für ein anhaltendes Wirtschaftswachstum von entscheidender Bedeutung und senkt die Geschäftskosten für alle Anleger in Vietnam.

In Bezug auf die Probleme der Abfallbehandlung kann festgestellt werden, dass aufgrund des raschen Wirtschaftswachstums und der Urbanisierung der Bedarf nicht durch die öffentlichen Mittel gedeckt werden kann. Diese Lücke muss durch andere Quellen wie private Investitionen in Form von öffentlich-privaten Partnerschaften (PPP) geschlossen werden. Um private Sponsoren für Abfallbehandlungsprojekte zu finden, kann das Problem gelöst werden, indem eine flexiblere Regelung anstelle eines festgelegten Gewinnlimits festgelegt wird.
Die Infrastrukturprobleme können vom Staat angegangen werden, indem ein staatlicher Rahmen zur Förderung alternativer Möglichkeiten zur Kapitalbeschaffung festgelegt wird. Die Problematik der Energieeffizienz von Gebäuden muss bereits während der Bauphase durch den Einsatz umweltfreundlicher Baumaterialien in Angriff genommen werden, ohne dass dabei höhere Kosten entstehen.

Außerdem bietet sich die Verwendung mehrerer Systeme und Zertifikate von “wirtschaftlichen Gebäuden” an, die den Markt bestimmen lassen, welche Praktiken sinnvoll sind. Diese Systeme könnten für den Betrieb lizenziert werden, basierend auf einer Reihe einfacher Kriterien wie Transparenz, Zuverlässigkeit und Kohärenz nach anerkannten Normen. Diese Zertifikate müssen Anreize enthalten, um Bauherren dazu zu ermutigen, energieeffiziente Gebäude zu bauen.

B. Abfallbehandlungssektor

Die Abfallbehandlung ist ein wichtiger Sektor für PPP’s. Bisher gibt es jedoch keine maßgeschneiderten Leitlinien für die Entwicklung von PPP-Projekten in diesem Sektor. Das Rundschreiben 07/2017/TT-BXD (Rundschreiben 07) regelt insbesondere die Methode zur Bestimmung des Preises für die Behandlung von Siedlungsabfällen, die als Grundlage für die Festlegung, Bewertung und Genehmigung der Preise solcher Dienste gilt. Die Regelung trat am 1. Juli 2017 in Kraft und gilt für Organisationen und Einzelpersonen.

Es ist kein Preismechanismus festgelegt, der für PPP-Projekte geeignet ist. In Rundschreiben 07 wird der Gewinn, den die Sponsoren bei Projekten zur Behandlung fester Abfälle erzielen, auf 5% begrenzt, wodurch die finanzielle Tragfähigkeit der Projekte beeinträchtigt wird.

Anstelle einer Höchstgrenze ist eine flexible Regelung erforderlich. Die zugelassenen staatlichen Stellen müssen in der Lage sein, über angemessene Servicegebühren zu entscheiden, die abhängig von den Markt- und Ausschreibungsergebnissen festgelegt werden, anstatt eine Obergrenze für die Profite festzulegen, die, wenn sie nicht dem Markt entspricht, Projekte für Investoren unattraktiv machen würde.

C. Fehlende Optionen für Sponsoren zur Kapitalbeschaffung für Projekte

Neben der traditionellen Projektfinanzierung haben Sponsoren von Infrastrukturprojekten in Vietnam kaum andere Möglichkeiten, Kapital für Projekte zu beschaffen. Die Vorschriften für Projektanleihen oder Handelskapital entsprechen entweder nicht der Art einer Infrastruktur-Projektgesellschaft (z. B. muss der Anleiheemittent im Vorjahr gewinnbringend sein, um Anleihen emittieren zu können) oder sind überhaupt nicht vorhanden (z.B. strenge Anforderungen an die Übertragung von Projektkapital, die Projektgesellschaften daran hindern, Mittel am Kapitalmarkt zu beschaffen).

Die Möglichkeit, am Kapitalmarkt Mittel zu beschaffen, würde den Sponsoren alternative Finanzierungsmöglichkeiten bieten, insbesondere angesichts der ungelösten Finanzierungsherausforderungen laufender Projekte. Die Regierung sollte einen rechtlichen Rahmen zur Unterstützung solcher Alternativen in Betracht ziehen und einführen.

D. Entwicklung von grünen Gebäuden in Vietnam und Standards

Ein Hauptproblem vor dem Vietnam steht, ist, dass es kaum energieeffiziente Häuser gibt. Derzeit hat Hanoi nur etwa 100 Gebäude, die nach Green Building (GB) zertifiziert sind oder sich einer GB-Zertifizierung unterziehen. Gebäude sind und bleiben jedoch die größten Stromverbraucher. Das rasante Wachstum der Urbanisierung und der damit verbundene Lebens- und Arbeitsstil, der eine intensive Nutzung der Klimaanlagen beinhaltet, macht einen erheblichen Teil des Energieverbrauchswachstums in den großen Städten Vietnams aus. Durch die richtige Gebäudeplanung kann dieses Wachstum für die nächsten 25 Jahre eines Gebäudes reduziert werden.

Andererseits ist eine Entwicklung zu sehen. Organisationen wie der Vietnam Green Building Council (VGBC) berichten, dass das Interesse in den letzten Jahren erheblich gestiegen ist. Viele Bauherren wurden in das Konzept von GB eingeführt. Ziel ist es, Gebäude so energieeffizient wie möglich zu machen. Um eine echte Veränderung herbeizuführen, muss das Problem auf mehreren Ebenen gelöst werden.

Erstens sollten Gebäude in jedem Fall energieeffizienter werden. Dies bedeutet keine höheren Investitionskosten. Das Verfahren kann von der Architekturphase über das passive Design und die Verwendung umweltfreundlicher Baustoffe bis hin zur Implementierung energieeffizienter Geräte während des Baus angewendet werden. Das Ziel sollte sein, dass alle Gebäude die Mindeststandards des VEEBC-Codes (oder einer vereinfachten Version) erfüllen, um die Baugenehmigung in der Basic Design Stage zu erhalten. Darüber hinaus könnte Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) ein Tarifsystem vorsehen, das Gebäude mit niedrigem Energieverbrauch mit niedrigeren Preisen belohnt und Gebäuden mit hohem Verbrauch höhere Preise auferlegt.

Zweitens muss die Regierung die Eigentümer von Gebäuden dazu ermutigen, ihre Gebäude zu zertifizieren. Neben internationalen Green Building-Zertifizierungen, die bereits in Vietnam eingesetzt werden, wie dem United States Green Building Council (USGBC), der Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) und der International Finance Corporation (IFC) Edge, hat das VGBC das LOTUS-Zertifikat entwickelt. Zusammenfassend wäre es sinnvoll, mehrere Systeme für den Einsatz in Vietnam anzuerkennen, die den Markt bestimmen lassen, welche praktisch und nützlich sind. Diese Systeme könnten für den Betrieb lizenziert werden, basierend auf einer Reihe einfacher Kriterien wie Transparenz, Zuverlässigkeit und Kohärenz nach anerkannten Normen.

E. Ausblick auf wichtige Handelsabkommen TPP 11, EUVNFTA und das Investitionsschutzabkommen

US-Präsident Donald Trump hat im Januar 2017 beschlossen, sich von der Beteiligung der US am TPP zurückzuziehen. Im November 2017 trafen sich die verbleibenden TPP-Mitglieder auf dem APEC-Treffen und beschlossen, das nun als CPTPP (TPP 11) bezeichnete Abkommen ohne die USA voranzutreiben. Die Bestimmung der Vereinbarung sah vor, dass sie 60 Tage nach der Ratifizierung von mindestens 50% der Unterzeichner (sechs der elf teilnehmenden Länder) in Kraft tritt. Das sechste Land, das das Abkommen ratifiziert hat, war Australien am 31. Oktober 2018. Daher wird das Abkommen schließlich am 30. Dezember 2018 endgültig in Kraft treten.

Das CPTPP zielt darauf ab, Tariflinien und Zölle zwischen den Mitgliedstaaten für bestimmte Waren und Güter zu 100% zu beseitigen. Dies wird den vietnamesischen Markt attraktiver machen und mehr ausländische Direktinvestitionen nach Vietnam bringen.

Die Vereinbarung enthält ein eigenständiges, durchsetzbares Kapitel zur Umwelt. Die Kernpflichten dieses Kapitels verpflichten die Mitgliedsländer, ein hohes Umweltschutzniveau zu verfolgen, die innerstaatlichen Umweltgesetze wirksam durchzusetzen, nicht von diesen Gesetzen abzuweichen, um Handel oder Investitionen zu fördern, und die Transparenz sowie die Beteiligung der Öffentlichkeit zu fördern. Diese wesentlichen Bestimmungen werden dazu beitragen, die Sauberkeit in Vietnam zu verbessern.

Ein weiteres bemerkenswertes wichtiges Handelsabkommen ist das Europäische Union – Vietnam Freihandelsabkommen (EUVNFTA). Das EUVNFTA bietet große Möglichkeiten, neue Märkte für die EU und Vietnam zu erschließen. Es wird helfen, mehr Kapital nach Vietnam zu bringen. Darüber hinaus wird das EUVNFTA die meisten Wirtschaftssektoren in Vietnam stärken.

Beide Abkommen versprechen große Vorteile für den Infrastruktur- und Abfallbehandlungssektor in Vietnam und werden dazu beitragen, auf das schnelle Wirtschafts- und Bevölkerungswachstum zu reagieren. Zum Beispiel wird Vietnam an seine Verpflichtungen des Kapitels über das öffentliche Beschaffungswesen des CPTPP und der EVFTA gebunden, einschließlich der Verfahren zur Durchführung einer Ausschreibung und unter bestimmten Umständen, dass die Regierung eine öffentliche Ausschreibung durchführen muss. Die Investoren haben jetzt die Möglichkeit, sich an der Auftragsvergabe durch vietnamesische Regierungsbehörden zu beteiligen und die Regierung zu verklagen, wenn sie den Investoren nicht die Möglichkeit bietet, dies unter qualifizierten Umständen zu tun.

Das CPTPP und das EVFTA ermöglichen es, dass ausländische Investoren die vietnamesische Regierung für ihre Auftragsentscheidungen gemäß der Streitbeilegung durch Schiedsgerichtsverfahren verklagen können. Die verletzende Partei muss alle erforderlichen Maßnahmen ergreifen, um der Schiedsspruch umgehend nachzukommen. Bei Nichteinhaltung der Vorschriften, wie in der WTO, gestatten CPTPP und EVFTA auf Antrag der beschwerdeführenden Partei vorübergehende Abhilfemaßnahmen (Entschädigung). Der endgültige Schiedsspruch ist verbindlich und vollstreckbar, ohne dass die örtlichen Gerichte diesbezüglich Mitspracherechte haben. Dies ist für die Anleger von Vorteil, da der Prozentsatz annullierter ausländischer Schiedssprüche in Vietnam aus verschiedenen Gründen nach wie vor relativ hoch ist.

Zusammenfassend ist festzuhalten, dass das starke Wirtschaftswachstum in Vietnam und seine Nachfrage nach Infrastrukturentwicklung große Chancen für Investoren darstellen, die in Vietnam investieren möchten. CPTPP und EVFTA sind wirksame Instrumente zur Unterstützung ausländischer Investitionen in den vietnamesischen Infrastruktursektor in Form von PPP. Im Rahmen dieser Vereinbarungen könnten ausländische Investoren auf Schiedsverfahren zurückgreifen und die Schiedssprüche in Vietnam vollständig vollstrecken lassen.

Damit zumindest einige Teile des Freihandelsabkommens auf EU-Ebene schneller ratifiziert werden können, haben die EU und Vietnam vereinbart, Investitionsbestimmungen, für die eine Ratifizierung durch die Mitgliedstaaten erforderlich ist, aus dem Hauptabkommen zu ziehen und diese in eine gesonderte Investitionsschutz-Vereinbarung zu stellen (IPA). Derzeit wird erwartet, dass sowohl das FTA als auch das IPA dem Rat Ende 2018 förmlich vorgelegt werden, was möglicherweise das Inkrafttreten des FTA in der zweiten Hälfte des Jahres 2019 ermöglicht.

Darüber hinaus sorgt das Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) für höchste Standards der Rechtssicherheit sowie der Durchsetzbarkeit und für Schutz der Anleger. Wir machen Investoren darauf aufmerksam, diese Standards zu nutzen! Wir können Sie beraten, wie das am besten geht! Es wird im Rahmen des TPP 11 und des EUVNFTA angewendet. Nach dieser Bestimmung haben die Anleger bei Streitigkeiten im Zusammenhang mit Investitionen das Recht, durch internationale Schiedsverfahren Ansprüche an das Gastland zu erheben. Das Schiedsverfahren wird aus Gründen der Transparenz in Konfliktfällen öffentlich gemacht.

In Bezug auf das TPP wurde der Geltungsbereich des ISDS reduziert, indem Bezugnahmen auf “Investitionsvereinbarungen” und “Investitionsgenehmigungen” als Ergebnis der Diskussion über die Zukunft des TPP auf den APEC-Sitzungen am 10. und 11. November 2017 entfernt wurden.

Weitere Sicherheiten sind im Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) enthalten, das Bestandteil des TPP 11 und des EUVNFTA sein wird. Das GPA beider Verträge regelt hauptsächlich die Anforderungen darüber, Bieter oder inländische Bieter mit Investitionskapital und vietnamesische Bieter gleich zu behandeln, wenn eine Regierung Waren kauft oder eine Dienstleistung in Höhe des festgelegten Schwellenwerts anfordert.

Vietnam verpflichtet sich, Informationen zu Ausschreibungen rechtzeitig zu veröffentlichen, den Bietern ausreichend Zeit zu geben, Angebote vorzubereiten und einzureichen und die Vertraulichkeit der Angebote zu wahren. Das GPA beider Abkommen verlangt auch, dass die Vertragsparteien Angebote auf der Grundlage fairer und objektiver Grundsätze bewerten, Angebote nur anhand der in Bekanntmachungen und Ausschreibungsunterlagen festgelegten Kriterien bewerten und vergeben, ein wirksames System für Beschwerden und Streitbeilegung schaffen usw. Dieses Instrument gewährleistet einen fairen Wettbewerb sowie Projekte von Qualität und einen effizienten Entwicklungsprozess.

Bei Fragen zu diesem Thema wenden Sie sich bitte an Dr. Oliver Massmann unter omassmann@duanemorris.com. Dr. Oliver Massmann ist Generaldirektor von Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.
Vielen Dank!

Vietnam – Infrastructure and Waste Treatment Sector – Current Issues and Solutions for Investment and Outlook on the Major Trade Deals CPTPP, EUVNFTA and the EU Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (IPA)

A. Overview
The waste treatment and infrastructure sector in Vietnam faces several issues. The waste treatment is a priority sector in Vietnam due to the urgent need to clean up urban environments in major provinces. This leads to the urgent need of waste treatment projects. However, the incentives for sponsors are limited. In particular, a regulation regarding solid waste treatment projects prevents, that the profit earned by the sponsors can raise up higher than 5%, adversely affecting the financial viability of the projects.
Regarding the infrastructure, there are two main issues. Firstly, there are only a few options for sponsors to raise capital for infrastructure projects. Besides the traditional project financing, sponsors of projects in Vietnam have hardly any other options to raise capital for it. Secondly, the development of energy efficient buildings is still in its infancy in Vietnam. Buildings are, and will remain, the largest consumers of electricity. However, just around 100 buildings have a Green Building (GB) certification. Modern, efficient infrastructure is vital to continued economic growth and lowers the costs of doing business for all investors in Vietnam.
Regarding the problems of the waste treatment, it can be determined, that due to the rapid economic growth and urbanization, public funding is unable to meet these needs. This gap has to be filled by other sources like private investment in the form of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). In order to find private sponsors for waste treatment projects, the problem can be solved by setting a more flexible regulation instead of a fix profit limit.
The infrastructural issues can be addressed by the state setting a governmental framework to promote alternative options to raise capital. The issue regarding the energy efficiency of buildings
must already be taken up during the construction phase by using environmentally-friendly construction materials without producing higher costs and, in addition, by using multiple systems and certificates of “economic buildings”, letting the market determine which are practical and useful. These systems could be licensed for operation based on a set of simple criteria such as transparency, reliability and coherence according to recognized norms. These certificates must include incentives to encourage builders to build energy efficient buildings.

B. Waste Treatment Sector
Waste treatment is an important sector for PPP’s. However, to date there is no customized guidance on development of PPP projects in this sector. In particular, Circular 07/2017/TT-BXD (Circular 07) regulates the method for determining the price of municipal solid waste (MSW) treatment service, which is used as the basis for setting, evaluating and approving specific prices of MSW treatment services. It came into force on July 01, 2017 and applies to organizations and individuals. It does not set out a pricing mechanism that is workable for PPP projects. Circular 07 limits the profit earned by the sponsors in solid waste treatment projects to 5%, adversely affecting the financial viability of the projects.
Instead of using a maximum limit, a flexible regulation is needed. The authorized State agencies must be able to decide on appropriate service fees which will be finalized subject to the market and tender results instead of setting a cap on the fees, which, if is not in line with the market, would make projects unattractive to investors.

C. Lack of options for sponsors to raise capital for projects
Other than traditional project financing, sponsors of infrastructure projects in Vietnam have hardly any other options to raise capital for projects. The regulations on project bonds or trading
equity are either not accommodating to the nature of an infrastructure project company (e.g. the law requires that the bond issuer must be profitable in the preceding year to be eligible to issue bonds), or not available at all (e.g. strict requirements on transfer of project equity preventing project companies from raising funds on the capital market).
Being able to raise funds on the capital market would provide the sponsors with alternative financing options, especially given the unresolved financing challenges of on-going projects. The government should consider and put into place a legal framework to support such alternatives.

D. Development of green buildings in Vietnam and standards
A major issue that Vietnam faces is that energy-efficient houses hardly exist. Currently Hanoi has only around 100 buildings that are Green Building (GB)-certified or are undergoing GB certification.
However, buildings are and will remain the largest consumers of electricity. The rapid growth of urbanization and its associated life and working style, which includes intensive air-conditioning use, accounts for a considerable proportion of the energy consumption growth in the major cities of Vietnam. Proper building design can reduce this growth for the next 25 years of a building’s lifetime.
On the other hand, a development can be seen. Organizations such as the Vietnam Green Building Council (VGBC) report a significant uptick in interest over the past couple of years. Many building owners have been introduced to the concept of GB. The aim is to make buildings as energy efficient as possible. To bring absolute a real change, the problem needs to be handled on several levels.
Firstly, buildings should become more energy efficient in any case. This does not mean higher investment costs. The process can be applied from the architecture phase, with passive design and the use of environmentally-friendly construction materials, to the implementation of energy-efficient devices during construction. The aim should be that all buildings achieve the minimum standards of the VEEBC code (or a simplified version) in order to receive the Building license at Basic Design Stage. Furthermore, Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) could impose a tariff scheme that rewards low energy consumption buildings with lower prices and impose higher prices to high consumption buildings.
Secondly, the Government must provide effective encouragement for building owners to certify their buildings. In addition to international green building certifications already being used in Vietnam, such as the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and International Finance Corporation (IFC) Edge, VGBC has developed the LOTUS certificate.
In conclusion, it would be useful, to recognize multiple systems for use in Vietnam, letting the market determine which are practical and useful. These systems could be licensed for operation based on a set of simple criteria such as transparency, reliability and coherence according to recognized norms.

E. Outlook on Major Trade Agreements TPP 11, EUVNFTA and IPA
In January 2017, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the US’ participation in the TPP. In November 2017, the remaining TPP members met at the APEC meetings and concluded about pushing forward the now called CPTPP (TPP 11) without the USA. The provision of the agreement specified that it enters into effect 60 days after ratification by at least 50% of the signatories (six of the eleven participating countries). The sixth nation to ratify the deal was Australia on 31 October 2018, therefore the agreement will finally come into force on 30 December 2018. Vietnam has now officially become the 7th member of the CPTPP.
The CPTPP is targeting to eliminate tariff lines and custom duties among member states on certain goods and commodities to 100%. This will make the Vietnamese market more attractive bringing more foreign direct investment to Vietnam. The agreement includes a stand-alone, enforceable chapter on the environment. The chapter’s core obligations commit member countries to pursue high levels of environmental protection, effectively enforce domestic environmental laws, not derogate from these laws to encourage trade or investment and promote transparency and public participation. Those essential regulations will help to improve the cleanliness of Vietnam.
One another notable major trade agreement is the European Union Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EUVNFTA). The EUVNFTA offers great opportunity to access new markets for both, the EU and Vietnam. It will help to bring more capital into Vietnam. In addition, the EUVNFTA will boost the most economic sectors in Vietnam.
Both agreements promise great benefits for the infrastructure and waste treatment sector in Vietnam and will help to react on the fast economic and population growth. For instance, Vietnam will be bound by its commitments in the Government Procurement chapter in the CPTPP and the EVFTA, including the procedures to conduct a tender and in specific circumstances that the Government must conduct a public tender. The investors now have the opportunity to participate in procurement by Vietnam’s government entities and challenge the Government if it does not grant the investors the opportunity to do so in qualified circumstances.
The CPTPP and the EVFTA make it possible that foreign investors could sue Vietnam Government for its tender decisions according to the dispute settlement by arbitration rules. The violating party must take all necessary measures to promptly comply with the arbitral decision. In case of non-compliance, as in the WTO, the CPTPP and the EVFTA allow temporary remedies (compensation) at the request of the complaining party. The final arbitral award is binding and enforceable without any question from the local courts regarding its validity. This is an advantage for investors considering the fact that the percentage of annulled foreign arbitral awards in Vietnam remains relatively high for different reasons.
In conclusion, Vietnam’s strong economic growth and its demand for infrastructure development are great opportunities for investors planning to invest in Vietnam. The CPTPP and the EVFTA are effective tools to support foreign investment in Vietnam’s infrastructure sector in the form of PPP. Under these agreements, foreign investors could take recourse to arbitration proceedings and have the arbitral awards fully enforced in Vietnam.
To enable at least some parts of the FTA to be ratified more speedily at EU level, the EU and Vietnam agreed to take provisions on investment, for which Member State ratification is required, out of the main agreement and put them in a separate Investment Protection Agreement (IPA). Currently both the FTA and IPA are expected to be formally submitted to the Council in late 2018, possibly enabling the FTA to come into force in the second half of 2019.
Furthermore, the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) will ensure highest standards of legal certainty and enforceability and protection for investors. We alert investors to make use of these standards! We can advise how to best do that! It is going to be applied under the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA. Under that provision, for investment related disputes, the investors have the right to bring claims to the host country by means of international arbitration. The arbitration proceedings shall be made public as a matter of transparency in conflict cases. In relation to the TPP, the scope of the ISDS was reduced by removing references to “investment agreements” and “investment authorization” as result of the discussion about the TPP’s future on the APEC meetings on 10th and 11th November 2017.
Further securities come with the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), which is going to be part of the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA.
The GPA in both agreements, mainly deals with the requirement to treat bidders or domestic bidders with investment capital and Vietnamese bidders equally when a government buys goods or requests for a service worth over the specified threshold. Vietnam undertakes to timely publish information on tender, allow sufficient time for bidders to prepare for and submit bids, maintain confidentiality of tenders. The GPA in both agreements also requires its Parties assess bids based on fair and objective principles, evaluate and award bids only based on criteria set out in notices and tender documentation, create an effective regime for complaints and settling disputes, etc.
This instrument will ensure a fair competition and projects of quality and efficient developing processes.

If you have any question on the above, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Thank you very much!

Direct Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (DPPA) to be piloted in Vietnam in 2019 in Vietnam – Opportunities for producers of renewable energy and foreign firms as buyers – how best to use the CPTPP and the EUVNFTA to make it work

In recent years, Vietnam has enjoyed one of the world’s most rapid economic growth rates i.e., an average of more than 6% p.a. Such growth has transformed the country from one of the poorest in the world into a middle-income country. Vietnam has long recognized the important role of renewable energy in achieving energy security, sustainable development and stable growth rate.

Vietnam has a wide range of primary energy sources such as crude oil, coal, natural gas and hydro power for economic development. However, Vietnam has experienced formidable risks for its economy to be based on fossil fuels. For example, in April 2015, thousands of residents blocked a national highway for more than 30 hours in a protest against pollution by the Vinh Tan 2 coal power plants. It seems most of the hydro resource potential for hydro power plants will be fully exploited soon. Those are just two examples of incidents that could significantly affect the national power security power of Vietnam. Accordingly, Vietnam must reduce its reliance on less “environmentally friendly” primary fossil fuel, and promoting renewable energy promptly.

The revised Power Development Plan for 2011 – 2020, vision to 2030 (revised PDP VII), adopted in 2016, is evidence of a growing appreciation of the role alternative sources of energy, targets a 7% share of electricity generated from renewable energy by 2020 and 10% plus by 2030. The revised PDP VII forecasts the electricity demand using an annual average growth rate at 10% from 2011 to 2030. The demand will increase from 86 TWh in 2010 to 265 – 278 TWh in 2020 and 572-632 TWh in 2030. The estimated installed capacity would be 60 GW in 2020 and 129.5 GW in 2030.

Since early 2017, there has been a surge of solar and wind projects approved by the Government after the promulgation of new feed-in-tariffs (“FITs”) for on-grid solar projects and other reforming policies to attract foreign and local investment on this green industry.

On 12 June 2018, at a seminar on renewable energy, the Electricity Regulatory Authority of Vietnam (“ERAV”) discussed and disclosed information on regulations for implementation of a pilot for Direct Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (“DPPA”) and renewable energy sector. Generally, DPPA is an agreement made between the power generator and a corporate customer in which power output is physically delivered and sold to the corporate customer for its operation. ERAV informed that it is a time consuming process since ERAV and its consultants had to conduct research and collect massive information on fundamental issues, design, details and criteria for DPPAs, especially for similar cases such as Vietnam. It is also challenging for ERAV to cooperate and consult other departments of MOIT on the DPPA pilot.

Currently, ERAV’s consultants have submitted a first preliminary report on international experience regarding basic design, mechanism and operation of DPPA. It is known that ERAV and its consultants also sent questionnaire papers to several industry and sectors, companies and stakeholders aimed at seeking their opinion on consumer market, demand, participants, and other issues.

When such report is available, ERAV will arrange a seminar for introduction of the same and seeking opinion from all stakeholders. At this stage, there is no final decisions on capacity, licensing process, participants, location, wheeling fee, and contractual terms for the piloted DPPA. However, ERAV is considering some models as below:

• Physical DPPA: (a) onsite DPPA where the power plants to be constructed around the consumers, and / or (ii) offshore DPPA where power plants to be constructed anywhere.
• Financial DPPA: this would be formed with competitive market for selling power.

ERAV also shared that the DPPA pilot would be preferably designed for 110 KV or more system (not 220 KV or 22-25 KV) since this system is the most popular, efficient and feasible.

Market access in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and EU – Vietnam FTA (EVFTA)

Currently, there is no foreign ownership restriction in energy sector in local laws or Vietnam’s international commitments. The foreign investor may choose among permitted investment forms: 100% foreign invested company, joint venture or public private partnership in the form of BOT contract. For your information, Vietnam ties in first place with Singapore in terms of market access liberalization.

The recent conclusion of the EVFTA negotiation and legal review and the signing of the CPTPP further opens the market to foreign investors. The investors now can bring their technology and know-how, especially those from countries with high level of development in renewable sectors such as Germany, to Vietnam with less market access barriers and being more secured. In particular, the CPTPP and the EVFTA make it possible that foreign investors could sue Vietnam’s Government for its investment related decisions according to the dispute settlement by arbitration rules. The final arbitral award is binding and enforceable without any question from the local courts regarding its validity. This is an advantage for investors considering the fact that the percentage of annulled foreign arbitral awards in Vietnam remains relatively high for different reasons.

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Please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com or any other lawyer in our office listing if you have any questions or want to know more details on the above. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Lawyer in Vietnam Dr. Oliver Massmann – Public Private Partnerships – Enhancing Functionality – Making use of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership and the EU – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement for Better Functionality of the New PPP Decree

Decree No. 15/2015/ND-CP on public-private partnership (“PPP”) (“Decree 15”) when introduced in 2015 was highly praised by legal commentators to be well drafted and make the PPP Laws in Vietnam move closer towards bankable projects.

However, in implementation process, there have been conflicting legal issues that deter investors from choosing PPP as an investment method, leading to a humble number of PPP projects thus far. For example, Decree 15 made a progress in other previous PPP regulations in clearly allowing project contracts to be governed by foreign law, namely contracts involving a foreign party and government agency guarantee contracts. The issue only arises when it comes to real-estate related matters, which are not yet finally decided under the Land Law which law will be the governing law.

Moreover, as PPP laws are only at Decree level, regulatory framework for PPP projects mainly includes the Law on Enterprises, Law on Public Investment, Law on Bidding, etc. most of which regulate public investment instead of private one or investment cooperation between the Government and private investors. The investors are also concerned about the stability of PPP regulations, as they are mainly Decrees. While a PPP project could take years to complete, regulations at Decree level may change and cause investors confusion in implementation of the laws. The state agencies also face certain difficulties in managing these PPP projects. According to a real story shared by an officer at VCCI, after the Government signed a PPP contract with an investor, due to changes in policies, the Government amended its determination of the contract value. As a result, the land price increased by 14 times as much as previously agreed, leading to substantial loss for the investor.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, during 2016-2020, it is expected that there will be 598 registered PPP projects with total investment amount of VND 250,000 billion. Given the shortcomings of Decree 15, it would be hard to achieve these numbers without its replacement by another Decree. In that context, Decree No. 63/2018/ND-CP (“Decree 63”) was issued on 04 May 2018 and takes effect from 19 June 2018 to eliminate bottlenecks in PPP implementation.
Decree 63 – What is new?

Capital contribution responsibility

The investor is responsible for contributing and mobilizing capital for the project implementation, in particular, the ratio of the investor’s capital in the owner’s equity is determined as follows:
– For projects with total investment amount of up to VND1,500 billion, the equity capital that the investor must maintain must be at least 20% of the total investment capital;
– For projects with total investment capital of more than VND1,500 billion:
o For investment portion of up to VND1,500 billion: the equity capital that the investor must maintain must be at least 20% of the total investment capital;
o For investment portion that exceeds VND1,500 billion: the equity capital that the investor must maintain must be at least 10% of the total investment capital.

There is no capital contribution requirement from the Government side.

Project approval authority

Decree 63 makes it clear the following authorities will approve PPP projects:
– The National Assembly decides the investment policy of important national projects;
– The Prime Minister decides the investment policy of the following projects:
o Projects Type A using state budget from 30% or above or below 30% but more than VND300 billion of the total investment capital of the project;
o Projects Type A using BT contracts.
– Ministers of relevant ministries decide investment policy of their own projects not falling within the approval authority of the National Assembly and the Prime Minister.
– Provincial People’s Councils decide investment policy of the following projects:
o Projects Type A not falling under the approval authority of the Prime Minister;
o Projects Type B using public investment budget; and
o Projects Type B using BT contracts.
– The provincial People’s Committee decides the investment policy of projects in their provinces not falling within the approval authority of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister and the provincial People’s Council.

Payment methods in BT projects

Practice shows that investors are very interested in well-located land when implementing BT projects. However, when such land fund gradually becomes exhausted, BT projects seem not to attract investors. Decree 63 has added another method in addition to the exchange of land for infrastructure, so that the investors will have more options in receiving payments. Specifically, the investor may also receive payment in the form of the transfer of right to conduct business, exploit works/ services, etc.

How to take advantage of the CPTPP and the EU-Vietnam FTA (EVFTA) in PPP projects to enhance the functionality of PPP projects in Vietnam

Covered government entities and agencies

According to Decree 63, tenders for the selection of PPP investors will follow the Law on Public Procurement. While the Vietnam’s Law on Public Procurement still shows some shortcomings, Vietnam will be bound by its commitments in the Government Procurement chapter in the CPTPP and the EVFTA, including the procedures to conduct a tender and in specific circumstances that the Government must conduct a public tender. The investors now have the opportunity to participate in procurement by Vietnam’s government entities and challenge the Government if it does not grant the investors the opportunity to do so in qualified circumstances.
The CPTPP and the EVFTA both make a list of government entities and agencies whose procurement of particular̉ goods and services at a particular amount must be subject to public tender. While the CPTPP only allows expansion of the list within 5 years upon the entry into force of the agreement, the EVFTA allows a longer period (i.e., 15 years).
Covered procurement

Government procurement of goods or services or any combination thereof that satisfy the following criteria falls within the scope of the EVFTA and CPTPP Government Procurement rules:

Criteria

How to appeal Government tender decision?

The CPTPP and the EVFTA make it possible that foreign investors could sue Vietnam Government for its tender decisions according to the dispute settlement by arbitration rules. The violating party must take all necessary measures to promptly comply with the arbitral decision. In case of non-compliance, as in the WTO, the CPTPP and the EVFTA allow temporary remedies (compensation) at the request of the complaining party.

Enforcement of arbitral awards

The final arbitral award is binding and enforceable without any question from the local courts regarding its validity. This is an advantage for investors considering the fact that the percentage of annulled foreign arbitral awards in Vietnam remains relatively high for different reasons.

Conclusion

It is crucial that foreign investors take advantage of the requirements under the CPTPP and the EVFTA to enhance functionality of their PPP projects in Vietnam. Under these agreements, specific Vietnam Government entities and agencies when procuring goods/ services above certain thresholds must conduct public tender. In case these entities make wrongful tender decisions, foreign investors could take recourse to arbitration proceedings and have the arbitral awards fully enforced in Vietnam.

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Please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions or want to know more details on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.
THANK YOU !

Lawyer in Vietnam Dr. Oliver Massmann New Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership signed by Members States – WHAT IS IN FOR YOU?

Overview on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) – now the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)
The TPP was originally known as the Trans- Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership concluded in 2006 among Singapore, New Zealand, Chile and Brunei (P-4 agreement) as a means to promote trade liberalization in the Asia- Pacific Region. As its name indicates, the original purpose of the agreement was only to address economic issues. As the number of participating countries in the P-4 agreement increased, starting with the United States in September 2008 and other countries to follow being Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Canada, Mexico and Japan until July 2013, the agreement is agreed to be “a comprehensive, next-generation regional agreement that liberalizes trade and investment and addresses new and traditional trade issues and 21st-century challenges” by TPP Trade ministers. In June 2015, the United States approved the trade promotion authority for President Obama. The Agreement finally becomes as it is today through tough negotiation rounds, while the last round in Atlanta in September 2015 was considered the most intensive one. The TPP was already concluded on 06 October 2015. However, in January 2017, right after President Trump took his office, the United States formally expressed its withdrawal from the agreement, leaving other 11 parties with the decision to continue the agreement without the United States or not. In November 2017, during APEC meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam, ministers from 11 countries decided to push ahead with the TPP with its new name – CPTPP with only 20 items suspended out of an around 5000-page document, mainly in the Intellectual Property chapter. On 8 March 2018, the CPTPP was finally signed in Chile. The CPTPP accounts for 495 million people representing 13.5 percent of the world total economic output – worth a total of $10 trillion.
The CPTTP will help Vietnam make good use of international cooperation opportunities, balance relationships with key markets, approach larger markets including Japan and Canada, boost import-export, reduce import deficit, and attract foreign investment. In addition, CPTTP will also help Vietnam’s economy allocate its resources more effectively, enabling active supports to the processes of restructuring, innovation and improving regulations, and improve administrative reforms.
What makes CPTPP the template for next-generations trade agreements – What commitments are beyond the WTO commitments ?
Freer trade zone
Commitments in Trade in goods
Tariff and non-tariff barriers are reduced and removed substantially across all trade in services and goods under the CPTPP. Import tariffs are reduced for 100% goods traded among member states, with more than 90% being eliminated immediately when the Agreement takes effect. The CPTPP also covers issues which have never been addressed in the WTO, including export duties, import duties for re-manufactured goods, market access for re-furbished goods, stricter regulations on import and export licensing, monopolies and goods in transit.
Lower tariff barriers from the CPTPP will give Vietnam greater access to large consumer markets in Japan, Canada and Australia. The potential positive effect on trade could be transformative, with estimates that the CPTPP will boost Vietnam’s exports by over 37% until 2025.
Commitments in Trade in services and Investment
All 11 member states give consent to a liberalized trade in this area. More sectors are opened in the CPTPP compared with the WTO, such as telecommunications, distribution and manufacturing sectors.
In addition, besides incorporating basic WTO principles (national treatment (NT), most-favored nation treatment (MFN), market access, and local presence), the CPTPP takes a negative approach, meaning that their markets are fully open to service suppliers from other CPTPP Parties, except otherwise indicated in their commitments (i.e, non-conforming measures). In order to make such reservations, the member state must prove the necessity of such preservation and negotiate with other member states. If approved, the non-conforming measures are only limited to such list, except for measures in certain sensitive sectors which are included in a separate list. Member states are only allowed to adopt policies that are better than what they commit (ratchet principle). The CPTPP also includes obligations on removal of performance requirements (i.e., no conditions on local content requirements, export conditions, use of certain technology, location of the investment project, etc.) and reasonable requirements on senior management and board of directors. Notably, the CPTPP Chapter on Investment for the first time makes it very clear and transparent concerning the MFN principle, that countries operating in multi-state regime must give foreign investors the best investment conditions of all states, regardless of the state where the investment takes place. Investors are also allowed to petition against the Government from the investment registration stage.
Textiles
Textiles are among Vietnam’s core negotiating sectors. According to suggestions by the United States, negotiations on textiles were conducted separately from negotiations on market access for other goods. To be qualified for CPTPP preferential tariff treatment, the CPTPP applies the yarn-forward principle, meaning textile products must be produced in CPTPP countries from yarn forward. However, the CPTPP includes exceptions that allow (i) certain materials to be sourced from outside CPTPP (“Short supply list”), (ii) certain manufacturing phases (for example, dying, weaving, etc.) to be conducted outside CPTPP; and (iii) one country to be able to use non-CPTPP materials in exchange for its export of certain textile goods to another country.
Government procurement
The CPTPP makes a list of government entities and agencies whose procurement of particular̉ goods and services at a particular amount must be subject to public tender. Any negotiation to expand coverage of the Government Procurement chapter, particularly in relation to state government and local government contracts, will be delayed. Parties will only initiate talks on this issue at least five years after the date of entry into force of the CPTPP.
This chapter includes NT and MFN principles, removes tender conditions favoring local tenders such as using local goods or local suppliers, conditions on technology transfer or two-way trade and investment, etc. These rules require all parties, to reform their bidding procedures and protect their own interests by disqualifying tenders with poor performance and low capacity.
Investor-State Dispute Settlement
The CPTPP aims at protecting investors and their investment in the host country by introducing requirements on non-discrimination; fair and equitable treatment; full protection and security; the prohibition of expropriation that is not for public purpose, without due process, or without compensation; the free transfer of funds related to investments; and the freedom to appoint senior management positions regardless of nationality.
For the first time investors of a party may sue the Government of the other party for its violation of investment-related commitments when the investors make investment in that party. However, please note that under the CPTPP, investors will not be able to sue the Government using ISDS clauses if there is any dispute in connection with an investment agreement. An investment agreement means a written agreement that is concluded and takes effect after the date of entry into force of the CPTPP between an authority at the central level of government of a Party and a covered investment or an investor of another Party and that creates an exchange of rights and obligations, binding on both parties under the applicable law. Investment agreement refers to an agreement in writing, negotiated and executed by both parties, whether in a single instrument or in multiple instruments. A unilateral act of an administrative or judicial authority, such as a permit, licence, authorisation, certificate, approval, etc. and an administrative or judicial consent decree or order will not be considered a written agreement.
CPTPP also includes procedures for arbitration as means of settling disputes between investors and the host state. It covers new provisions compared with existing agreements such as transparency in arbitral proceedings, disclosure of filings and arbitral awards, and participation of interested non-disputing parties to make amicus curiae submissions to a tribunal. Arbitral awards are final, binding and fully enforceable in CPTPP countries.
Application of the CPTPP and older/ existing agreements
Member states of the CPTPP acknowledge existing rights and obligations of each member under existing international agreements to which all CPTPP member states are parties (for example, the WTO Agreement, NAFTA, or bilateral agreements) or at least two member states are parties. In case there is any consistency between a provision of the CPTPP and a provision of another agreement to which at least two CPTPP member states are parties, these parties will consult with each other to reach a mutually satisfactory solution. Please note that the case where an agreement provides more favourable treatment of goods, services, investments or persons than that provided for under the CPTPP is not considered as an inconsistency.
Implementation deadline of the CPTPP
The CPTPP provides that “at least six or at least 50 percent” of the accord’s signatories must ratify for the deal to entry into force, and indicates that the threshold which applies will be “whichever is smaller.” Once such threshold is met, the CPTPP will take effect for this group 60 days after they have all notified New Zealand, the accord’s depositary.
Any signatory which ratifies the CPTPP after it comes into force will have to wait 60 days from the date when they notified their ratification for it to take effect for such signatory.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Resurrecting the TPP

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Vietnam – Solar Energy – Action plan for getting deals done with the new Power Purchase Agreement

Interview with Dr. Oliver Massmann\

1. Which significant changes does the new PPA contain for the solar energy sector?

Decision 11 introduces the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) rate of UScents 9.35 per kWh. The FiT rate is only applicable for on-grid solar power project with efficiency of solar cells greater than 16% or with efficiency of the modules greater than 15%. The FiT rate depends on the currency exchange rate of the Vietnamese Dong and the US-Dollar. The rate remains the same throughout the whole year. It is adjusted by the Vietnamese State Bank on the last working day of the year for being used in the following year.

As a result, the financial planning is easier and it grants certain security for investors such as protection against currency fluctuation.

2. Which aspects in the new PPA have changed compared with the draft PPA from April 2017?

Compared with the draft PPA, the FiT rate is now indicated in the final version and there is reference to the adjustment of the FiT in case of USD/VND exchange rate fluctuation.

The MoIT made no big changes regarding the shortcomings of the draft of the PPA from April 2017.

The investor still has to bear the biggest risk.

3. Is the PPA bankable?

No, in general the PPA is not bankable in its final version.

4. Is there a way to make it bankable?

Yes, it is possible to make the PPA bankable. We have 20 years of experience making PPAs bankable for gas and coal fired power plants and wind energy plants in Vietnam. The investor should use all business channels and experienced negotiators to make the PPA bankable.

It is a matter of negotiation and experience. Decision 11 is granting investors the possibility to negotiate the conditions with EVN. The price remains fixed.

Agreements such as the EU – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (“EVFTA”) or the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), which is now called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“CPTPP”), lay a big milestone for making the PPA bankable.

The EVFTA was signed in 2015 and is expected to be ratified by all member countries by 2018. It is probably going to take effect in 2019. It is estimated to generate an increasing GDP and to liberalize the economy of Vietnam. Another aspect is the elimination of almost all custom duties (over 99% of all tariff lines). As a result, there will be a huge impact on trade development and the interest of investors.

Another important agreement is the CPTPP. On 4th February 2016 the TPP was signed between 12 countries. The signing nations made up 28% of the global trade and 40% of the global GDP. However, at the beginning of 2017, the US President Trump decided to withdraw from the TPP. The remaining 11 member states discussed the future of the TPP in APEC event in Da Nang, Vietnam and agreed to push ahead with the TPP but now under the name of CPTPP. Furthermore, the states agreed to work out a new framework agreement, which includes changes to the previous TPP agreement. The largest amendment was made in the field of intellectual property, for example, easing the protection of copyright or the special protection of biologics and pharmaceuticals.

However, the level of market access is still the same as in the first TPP. For some countries, further negotiations have to take place and they need time to adapt their laws to the CPTPP rules. The negotiators have set the goal of signing the revised TPP by the first quarter of 2018. After 6 countries have ratified the partnership, it will come into effect.

With the CPTPP, market access to more sectors will be opened than the WTO such as telecommunication, distribution of goods, manufacturing and fabrication. However, there will remain a few restrictions in the power/energy sector as discussed below.

As a result of the EVFTA and the TPP, Vietnam will get access to a huge part of international markets. This gives Vietnam the possibility to increase the amount of imports and exports (estimated up to 37% higher until 2025) and to improve foreign investments.

Another essential instrument is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)[N1] which is going to be applied under the EVFTA and the TPP. Under that provision, for investment related disputes, the investors have the right to bring claims to the host country by means of international arbitration. The arbitration proceedings shall be made public as a matter of transparency in conflict cases. In relation to the TPP, the scope of the ISDS was reduced by removing references to “investment agreements” and “investment authorization” as result of the discussion about the TPP’s future on the APEC meetings on 10th and 11th November 2017.

As a conclusion, the bankability of the PPA will get enhanced as a consequence of the EVFTA and TPP in the next few years if the legislative framework is being reformed in the right direction. The economy will become more dynamic because of access to other markets and further foreign investments. With the implementation of the ISDS in the TPP, investors will be more secured in relation to dispute resolution and protection against the risks of international trading. As a result, banks will be more willing to finance PPAs.

Our recommendations: For now, the bankability of the PPA is not as it is expected. But you should be aware of the upcoming agreements which will lead to a big impact on the economy growth and the economy itself. If everything is improving in the right direction as it is now, the PPAs will be more bankable in the future and there will be better investment opportunities.

5. How was the bankability issue handled in the past years?

The TPP and the EVFTA are not the only agreements regarding the bankability of the PPA.

Vietnam and the USA signed the Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) in 1999 which was implemented in 2001. It was a huge success and very important agreement for the economy of Vietnam. It was the first opening of the Vietnamese market and important for the creation of more business opportunities and new standards for financing projects.

Another important fact was Vietnam’s accession to the WTO in 2007. This has improved trade relations between Vietnam and other countries by removing trade barriers and the commitment to non-discrimination. It was also a political sign to show Vietnam’s will to get integrated in the international trade by accepting international trading rules.

To be able to fulfill the commitments, it is necessary to make legislative adjustments and adopt laws that ensure the viability and efficiency of the projects. In the last years, many important laws have been introduced. They have helped to enhance the bankability of the PPA, for example, the 2014 Investment Law, 2014 Enterprise Law, 2012 Labor Law, etc.

In addition, in 2011, the legal framework for wind power projects was introduced.

Our recommendation: You should use existing international agreements and local laws as the bases for negotiation. Remember to rely on existing precedents and keep in mind that there are some difficulties for project development. But with a well-structured project development, it is still possible to getting a bankable PPA done.

6. What are the main risks of the PPA for investors?

With many solar projects currently focused on a few central locations, the capacity of existing facilities to absorb power must be a cause of some concerns given the PPA’s transfer of such risk to power producers.

EVN holds a monopoly of distribution, repair, maintenance, inspection and examination of the grid.

There is a big risk because of the lack of the government’s guarantee for EVN’s payment obligation in cases energy is provided from the producer but cannot be transmitted due to interruption of EVN’s grid connection. One solution for bridging that guarantee gap can be the use of the MIGA backup from the Worldbank (Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency) or backup from the Asean Development Bank.

Reasons for the interruption can be, for example: force majeure or termination of contracts. EVN can refuse transmitting the energy in cases of maintenance or repairing.

Circular 16 does not contain any guarantee or compensation for investors in these cases.

Our recommendations for avoiding potential risks: Be aware of veto rights of EVN and Vietnamese authorities. You have to be patient because the decision making process in Vietnam goes through many levels and takes time.

7. There will be conflicts between the investors and EVN because of the shift of risks to the investors. Which means of conflict resolution does the PPA grant to investors?

In general, the PPA is governed by the Vietnamese law.

The PPA does not provide for international arbitration as a means of dispute resolution.

Conflicts can be submitted to the Department of Electricity and Renewable Energy. If this option fails, investors can seek help at the Electricity Regulatory Authority of Vietnam (ERAV) or with application to a Vietnamese court.

The PPA implicitly allows the involvement of domestic and offshore arbitration. However, whether it can be a prior agreement with EVN in the PPA or only until there is an arising dispute simply lies in the hands of EVN.

Our recommendations for successful negotiations with EVN: You have to understand how EVN is working and what their targets are. Be aware of their monopoly position in the energy sector in Vietnam. Don’t try “to reinvent the wheel”!

Do not overexert them with too ambitious intentions related to the development proposal. They might be afraid of so many new things. Rely on workable precedent strategies and make reference to successful projects.

8. Which view does the MoIT hold regarding the shortcomings of the PPA?

The MoIT knows about the shortcomings of the PPA and is aware about the fact that the PPA will not attract investors to meet the power demand or to solve problems regarding the development of renewable energy.

The MoIT also knows that the solar energy sector in Vietnam has a lot of potentials.

Finally, the MoIT expects to attract smaller investment projects where bankability is not really an issue for the investors.

9. Is the view of the MoIT realistic?

In our opinion, the MoIT’s view is not realistic. It may lead to unfeasible projects because of the existing risks of the final version of PPA and without assurance for supportive services from a bank. Furthermore the success of projects depends on the result of the negotiation with EVN.

10. Which advice can you give to future investors regarding their project development?

Be aware! You have to take care of your project on a step-by-step-base and get well prepared for the negotiations with EVN when you decide to invest in an on-grid power project.

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

 

Thank you!