Tag Archives: EUVNFTA

Vietnam – Power/Energy Sector – Current Issues and Solutions for Investment and Outlook on Major Trade Deals TPP 11 and EUVNFTA

A. OVERVIEW
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 much FDI for developing clean energy projects.
Furthermore, the new Solar PPA was issued this year to solve the lack of regulation on solar power projects. Moreover, the issuance of the Circular 16/2017/TT-BCT on the power distribution of rooftop solar plants and the alleviation of the Operating License for power plants (lmw capacity) are notable developments in the power/energy industry in Vietnam. Moreover, the implementation of the Direct Power Purchase Agreement could step into pilot phase in the next time, thus, it is estimated to create better access to clean energy and increase of investment up to USD 2 billion in clean energy.
Another notable fact is the increase of the wind tariff in early August 2017. Now, Vietnam has implemented a wind power project with a capacity of 160 MW. The new tariff shall attract new and more foreign investments in the wind power industry in Vietnam.
B. ISSUES
1. Environment
The government is implementing more and more measures on protection of the environment. Vietnam plays a proactive role on reduction of emission and CO2 but the penalties for violation are very low. Furthermore, new regulations have to be issued to ensure more environmental protection, especially in terms of fossil power projects known to be a great danger for environment regarding to huge amounts of emissions and pollution. The project developers should be obliged to develop projects using highest environmental standards.
2. Solar PPA Policy
There are issues in the solar power policy necessary to be addressed.
In general, the goals on producing clean energy in large scale and the attraction of FDI cannot be reached sufficiently yet due to issues regarding electricity pricing and the content of the final power purchase agreement. These issues lead to restraining investments and delayed development of the clean energy industry in Vietnam.
Further, there are continuing concerns about lack of transparency regarding to solar power prices and due to lack of a published Roadmap for the retail sector. This leads to uncertainty of foreign investors regarding to stability of prices. Price transparency measures should be included in the Energy Plan and a Roadmap for the retail sector should be published. The issuance of a pricing framework can also lead to more investments in off-grid projects causing relieve of EVN’s pressure on power transmission, thus, the transmission system does not have to run near overstressing at daily peak hours. Moreover, the final template of the Solar PPA contains concerning provisions for investors such as (i) lack of EVN’s payment obligations in cases of transmission problems; (ii) lack of transparent possibilities for international arbitration; (iii) the lack of PPAs’ bankability. The final PPA needs to be amended to grant more security to investors and to attract more FDI. Moreover, the administrative regulations must be simplified for more efficiency in solar power project development as well as for easier market access, especially with regard on major trade agreements like TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA.
3. Power Storage
The Solar Battery is the most common way of storing energy but the technology is not well-developed yet in Vietnam. However, the country has the possibility to become leader in the new storage technologies in the eastern part of the world. This is another reason for the necessity of development of the solar industry and extremely important as power storage solution on remote islands in order with power production in those areas.
4. Project Applications
Currently, there is a very large number of applications for solar plants existing. This leads to concerns regarding to create a ,,bubble effect” which is causing gridlocks in project developing an delays in investment as well as uncertainty among investors.
For investors, to improve the chance on winning tendered biddings, it is important to provide conditions like (i) ensured safety for wildlife, people, environment or households; (ii) maintained grid connection, (iii) enough financial solvency regarding feasibility of the project; (iv) successful projects in energy or infrastructure areas in the past.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) guarantees that all investors of power projects will be able to connect the plants to the national grid. According to the MOIT, the total reserved capacity of all planned projects is only 30% of the whole capacity, so that, there is no reason for concerns regarding to finalized projects not able to start power producing because of missing opportunity on generating turnover.
C. OUTLOOK ON MAJOR TRADE AGREEMENTS TPP 11 AND EUVNFTA
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 agreement shall be signed by all member states by the first quarter of 2018. After that, it has to be ratified in each member state before taking effect.
The effects of the TPP 11 promising great benefits for the energy sector in Vietnam. The TPP 11 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.
One another notable major trade agreement is the EUVNFTA between the European Union and Vietnam. 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.
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.

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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 – AUTOMOTIVE SECTOR – CURRENT ISSUES AND SOLUTIONS FOR INVESTMENT AND OUTLOOK ON MAJOR TRADE DEALS TPP11 AND EUVNFTA

A. ISSUES AUTOMOBILE SECTOR

1. Small production and competition
2016, the Automobile market in Vietnam reached over 300,000 units (consisting of: 230,000 CKD and 70,000 CBU vehicles). However, the overall production only covers around 50% of the total capacity. Furthermore, investors do not decide to invest in long –term project due to big fluctuations in the past and the lack of a stable market. It is very risky for suppliers to invest in high investment producing parts due to disadvantages of small production. These high prices on parts manufactured locally is affecting the competition between local parts and imported parts. As a result, many suppliers cannot afford and sustain the production in the Vietnamese market.
Moreover, with the lack of local manufactured parts available in Vietnam, CKD vehicle assemblers need to import the most parts and materials which is causing higher costs due to logistics, packaging and import duty. Thus, these conditions are opening a gap between Vietnam CKD vehicles and CBU vehicles from about 10-20%.

2. Critical delivery capability of suppliers
A fully assembled car is consisting of hundreds of parts. As a result, car assemblers need a well-structured supply chain meeting their supply requirements. In Vietnam, many Vietnamese suppliers cannot provide materials in the required QCD standards for being able to take part in the international supply chain. Furthermore, the technology transfer, the right on use of patents, licensing agreements and copywriting permits are still required and not developed enough to ensure supply in global standard. Moreover, the safety standards for 4-wheel parts production is not developed as required yet.
In addition, the government is not developing well-supporting policies or measures to ease the production and trade for suppliers. In the last years, the government issued supporting decrees but they contain complicated procedures. There is no list provided containing information about all relevant suppliers available in Vietnam. As result, it is very difficult for companies to find all needed suppliers to ensure efficient production.
Further policies for stabilizing the market are to be made. Countermeasures and infrastructure development is a very important aspect to improve current issues. Moreover, the production cost cap and the gap between CBU and CKD vehicles need to be narrowed by setting new regulations or enforcing policies. Lastly, the government needs to give incentives to attract investments to support the development of the automobile sector.
Suppliers should try to go in cooperation with foreign suppliers for transferring technology to Vietnam and take part in databases for suppliers. National suppliers have to listen to international companies to develop the understanding of vehicle assemblers and their requirements. If assemblers find supplier companies understanding their needs and they are able to operate in the way of those needs, new investments will be attracted in the future.

3. Issues with Decree 116/2017/n33-CP on requirements for automobile supplier, importer, manufacturer and automobile aftersales guarantee and maintenance
a. Article 6, clause 2 point a rules that CBU importers must submit vehicle type approval certificate (VTA) and COP factory certificate. These have to be issued from the overseas authority. This is a major issue due to every agency is following national regulations and is adjusting their work to domestic requirements. It is unbearable to demand that suppliers must adjust work on regulations to each export country. In addition, there is no VTA authority in some countries (for example: Korea), so that, the VTA certificate cannot be issued to CBU importers in these countries. As result, the requirement of certificates’ issuance is a major reason for slow development of the automobile sector. Thus, Vietnam is limiting market access to some foreign investors in a very critical way. Furthermore, tests on safety and emission will be conducted of every single CBU shipment. This provision will highly increase the production time. However, the requirement of testing each shipment should be amended due to lack of necessity. Moreover, the government should start accepting the UNECE certificate. It is an internationally accepted certificate while it is meeting the Vietnamese requirements as well. In addition, the government needs to act as fast as possible to create transparent and stable environment for investors and their businesses in the automobile sector due to recent production cancellations of some enterprises on import of CBU vehicles.
b. Article 7, clause 1, point a provides the requirement of test roads with 800m length for CKD makers by 17 April 2019. The requirement of owning a test road is a huge financial burden, even renting test roads is very expensive and most producers are not owning test roads or do not have so much land available for that use.

B. ISSUES MOTORCYCLE SECTOR

1. Intellectual property
Intellectual property infringement is not only a small deal in Vietnam. Many Illegal imitations of motorbikes and parts, for example, Honda or Piaggio are manufactured in Vietnam. This is causing bad impacts on business and consumers due to lack of quality of imitated vehicles or parts of it. Furthermore, decreasing prestige and competitiveness are notable consequences of intellectual property infringement. There have to be further regulations on protection of intellectual rights and guidelines on enforcing these rights should be provided soon.

2. Increase of VAT
The increase of VAT from 10 to 12% on purchase of motorcycles is planned. Still, the motorbike is the main transportation vehicle used by Vietnamese in cities and rural areas. The increase of VAT will lead to worse socio-economy growth, thus, the government again should overthink the necessity of this planned measure.
C. OUTLOOK ON MAJOR TRADE AGREEMENTS TPP 11 AND EUVNFTA
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 agreement shall be signed by all member states by the first quarter of 2018. After that, it has to be ratified in each member state before taking effect.

The effects of the TPP 11 promising great benefits for the automotive sector in Vietnam. The TPP 11 is targeting to eliminate tariff lines and custom duties among member states on certain goods and commodities to 100%. Due to mostly high tariffs on vehicles, the TPP will impose great impact on production, business and trade flows. For ensuring the better market access under the TPP, suppliers must satisfy the regional value content requirements (RVC), thus, Vietnam will have to adjust regulations to ensure the satisfaction of the requirements of the TPP. As a result, Vietnam will be more competitive, but also be able to offer international standards to foreign investors.

One another notable major trade agreement is the EUVNFTA between the European Union and Vietnam. 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. In particular, the agreement will impose new foreign direct investment in Vietnam but there still remain problems regarding lack of infrastructure and low technology. On the other hand, it will also give the chance for better transfer of technology from Europe to Vietnam. Furthermore, the low labor costs in Vietnam are a big advantage for European investors to do business in the automotive sector in Vietnam.

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!

Vietnam – Agriculture Sector – Current Issues and Solutions for Investment and Outlook on Major Trade Deals TPP 11 and EUVNFTA

A. OVERVIEW AGRICULTURE SECTOR VIETNAM

Since 2016, the exports of many products in the agriculture sector in Vietnam has strongly increased. On the other hand, the agriculture sector is still vulnerable as shown in the past due to its limited development.
The development of the agriculture sector in Vietnam needs to come on track to solve the important issue on shifting from price to quality to ensure sustainable growth as backbone sector of Vietnam’s economy.
However, to ensure high quality products, Vietnam needs to make changes.
Firstly, the use of prohibited chemicals during breeding, preservation, digestion needs to be enforced and controlled by state authorities. The stricter control of raw materials before digestion and the manufacturing standards are further issues that need to be addressed to make the agriculture competitive with international players. Furthermore, the transformation of the domestic Vietnamese agriculture into a self-sufficient sector is another important step that needs to be realized.
In addition, to ensure sustainability, growth and for protection against crisis, farmers need to earn stable income, the farmers’ carbon footprints need to get reduced and the production must be adjusted to the requirements of the consumers and demand in the market.
However, for solving these problems, long term solutions need to be enrolled, those can be (i) increased food safety, (ii) diversification of products, (iii) improvement of regulatory environment, (iv) observing costs and improved finance, (v) the dependence on China in fruits, vegetables and pork meat must be addressed due to caused problems in the past.
On the other hand, Vietnam’s export of dragon fruit to Australia and export of poultry to Japan shows capability of Vietnamese exports meeting high safety requirements.
If the current issues can be addressed in the future, Vietnam’s exports in agriculture sector will show sustainable growth in the future.

B. ISSUES

1. Traceability and safeguarding of products
Vietnamese and international consumers are concerned about quality and safety of the food they are purchasing.
Currently, there are no well-developed traceability systems of the government for agricultural products in force. This is leading to significant consequences for the competitiveness in production. Further, the potential of product improvement is reduced, exports and market access is limited.
In Addition, the safety for consumers is deceased leading to low satisfaction of consumers.
As result of the existing issues, there are almost no financial incentives for improvement of processes.
However, now, it is possible for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to monitor animal movements with the help of the Department of Animal Health for protection against diseases of animals.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Department of Livestock Production improved systems for better protection and regulation of unofficial imports of products from other countries. This monitoring system shall also improve competitiveness and market accessibility in foreign countries.
On the other hand, these issues can only be fully addressed if obtained in regulations. TE Food System is operating a traceability system helping the authorities in HCMC and surrounding provinces on monitoring movements of pigs. This system is embedded in Decision 6079/QD. This year, the system was extended to eggs (Decision 3583/QD), chicken and poultry (Decision 3584/QD). Further extension to fruits, vegetables and beef are planned.
Nevertheless, these systems not only grant possibility on making regulations, it also can lead to reduced corruption due to better possibility to control.
For addressing the issue best, the systems should be improved on including the whole agriculture sector for ensuring sustainable growth, a fair and well-developed competition between national famers and international farmers as well as good market access.

2. Management of Plant Protection Products and its approach to regulation based on science
On 6th August 2015 the Circular No. 21/2015 was released. It is addressing Management of Plant Protection Products.
However, it contains provisions that could turn out as dangerous to the economy, environment and to the farmers as displayed in the following:
The circular contains provision about no registration and the banning of pesticides falling under GHS Category 3 and 4 in area of vegetable, tea and fruit. Further, the banning and no registration of crop protection products for use with vegetables, tea and fruit with having PHI bigger than seven days of use.
There is no scientific approach behind these provisions. As result, they could ban the availability on technologies for farmers in Vietnam operating in vegetable, tea and fruit.
Furthermore, these provisions lead to a significant competitive disadvantage to the agriculture sector. In addition, they contain specific risks to the environment, consumers and domestic economy due to the potential prohibition of the most-developed technologies bringing biggest amount of safety against diseases and climate issues to the consumer and possibility of productivity to farmers.
These provisions should not be adopted due to lack of science-based approach. Vietnam should handle this issue as other countries in southeast-Asia did.

3. Import and Export of Plants and Seeds
The import of plants and seeds can be done online in Vietnam. The purchased seeds have to be registered before the import can be successful. In cases where the online application file does not fit with the registration requirements, the import is delayed until registration is successful.
Enterprises need to be provided with sufficient information or guidelines to accelerate the import processes and for excluding delays in imports. On the other hand, export cannot be done online, thus, exports of plants and seeds need an insufficient amount of time.
The online export should be made possible for more efficiency in Vietnam.

4. Legal environment on banned substances and reduction of Antimicrobial Resistance
The last issue addresses the enforcement of regulations on bans and limitations regarding substances and the reduction of Antimicrobial Resistance. The use of antibiotics in animal nutrition can have various good effects such as prevention of diseases or treatment against them. On the other hand, it has bad impact on the consumer by means of the human body is building resistance against antibiotics leading to significant health risks for consumers.
As result, Vietnamese lawmakers have made big efforts to enforce existing regulations regarding to violations on the use of banned antibiotics and other substances.
Several circulars have been provided containing a list of prohibited chemicals and antibiotics on import, use in livestock and trading. However, the Circular No. 28/2014/TT-BNNPTNT is only addressing a few types of banned antibiotics and substances. After releasing the circular, many farmers concluded about reducing the use of antibiotics in animal nutrition and tried to replace them with alternative substances. Therefore, the government should endeavor research activities on alternative treatments and substances.
Another important measurement for enforcing the regulations were urine test kits for scanning on prohibited substances and uncovering violations against the regulations. Violations can lead to hard penalties up to the obligation on killing all animals on the farm. As result, it was possible to reduce the overuse of prohibited substances.
Moreover, the mass usage of antibiotics is leading to Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). According to the WTO, AMR is a huge global problem and estimated to be main cause of death by 2050 in Vietnam. Further, the economic costs will be USD 100 trillion!
However, in 2015, the four competent Vietnamese Ministries, Development Partners and a National Steering Committee signed an Aide Memoire as action plan against misuse and control of antibiotics in the livestock production and aquaculture. Vietnam should adopt measurements and strategies from other countries to address these issues in a successful way and to ensure strict enforcement of existing regulations. Further, biosecurity, monitoring, genetics, nutrition and control are other aspects that have to be addressed to grant safe products to the consumer without major health risks and to reduce AMR.

C. OUTLOOK ON MAJOR TRADE AGREEMENTS TPP 11 AND EUVNFTA

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 agreement shall be signed by all member states by the first quarter of 2018. After that, it has to be ratified in each member state before taking effect.
The effects of the TPP 11 promising great benefits for the agriculture sector in Vietnam and will support Vietnam’s national agriculture transforming into a self-sufficient and competitive sector. The TPP 11 is targeting to eliminate tariff lines and custom duties among member states on certain goods and commodities to 100%. As a result, international products will arrive at the Vietnamese market, so that, the Vietnamese livestock should use the given time for restructuring but also for becoming competitive and creating efficient environment for international investments.
With the National and Most-Favored Nation Treatment principle, the TPP is ensuring a fair competition which will attract new foreign investments as well as support for the agriculture sector in its restructuring process.
Moreover, national farmers must adopt high-developed technologies in nutrients and animal healthcare to be competitive. This will lead to more safety and trust of the consumer in the agriculture market in Vietnam.

One another notable major trade agreement is the EUVNFTA between the European Union and Vietnam. 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. Moreover, the agreement will eliminate 99% of tariffs on agricultural products leading to huge dynamic in the sector and Vietnam will get the chance on adopting technology from the European Union.
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!