Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann Real Estate Foreign Ownership Possible Now

With the adoption of the new Law on Real Estate Business 2014 (“LREB”) and the Law on Residential Housing 2014 (“LRH”), Vietnam’s real estate industry will see a higher demand in property and more investments are expected in short term because foreigners are allowed to own now for the first time. Although the LREB and the LRH are greatly welcome, there are still certain provisions that may restrict the competitiveness of enterprises in real estate industry. We will discuss below the main issues with suggested solutions.
1. Legal capital requirement
The third Draft Decree guiding the LREB requires a minimum legal capital of VND50 billion for real estate projects which must obtain in-principle approval of the authorities. However, it seems to be inconsistent with the general required legal capital (i.e., VND20 billion) for enterprises doing business in real estate in the same Draft Decree.
Moreover, VND20 billion is a bit too much for small scale projects. This requirement will then discourage investment in such real estate projects, thus negatively impact real estate sector. Considering this, it is recommended that the government should not increase the required legal capital to a fixed amount VND50 billion but a certain percentage of the total investment capital. Such requirement would ensure that only companies with sufficient financial resources can undertake large scale projects and not discourage small real estate developers. In addition, the minimum legal capital requirement should not apply to all real estate business sectors. In fact, certain real estate businesses such as office leasing or subleasing does not require high investment capital while it is certainly a prerequisite condition to carry out the businesses of real estate construction or project development. Thus, it would be reasonable to apply the legal capital requirement only on selected real estate activities after careful examination of their nature.
2. Tight deadline for capital contribution
According to Articles 48.2 and 74.2 of the 2014 Law on Enterprises, within 90 days from the issuance of the enterprise registration certificate, members of the limited liability company must contribute the capital in full. There is no exception to this requirement, either in case the investment capital amount is huge or the project is implemented within an extended period of time. Large scale real estate projects then face significant problems. On the one hand, the investment capital is too large to be contributed within such a short time limit. On the other hand, it may be unrealistic to contribute such a high amount right at the beginning of the project. Inefficient use of capital and low business competitiveness are predictable outcomes. The Government is then recommended to allow capital contribution based on project implementation period and project size.
3. Lack of transitional provisions
The new LREB does not provide a solution on how to deal with agreements signed under the old LREB but still in effect. Although the fourth Draft Decree guiding the LRH provides a transitional clause for contracts signed before 01 July, it does not address all types of contracts but only focuses on method of calculation and record of the residential housing area, warranty period of residential housing and parking plot. The question remains whether other types of contracts signed before 01 July 2015 must be amended to comply with the LREB and the LRH. However, for convenience and not to create troubles for enterprises, it is proposed that the existing agreements signed before 01 July continue to be in effect according to the old laws and no changes should be required.
4. Foreigners now have right to purchase property in Vietnam
Under Article 161.2(a) of the LRH, foreign individuals and foreign invested enterprises are able to purchase multiple properties in a residential development project including buildings and separate landed villas/townhouses. The maximum quantity allowed to purchase is 30% of the total units in a building and 250 houses in a local area. However, Article 68.4 of the fourth Draft Decree of the LRH limits that foreign organizations/ individuals may only own maximum 10% of the total number of individual housing in each residential housing project. This could be a restriction not in compliance with the LRH.
Another restriction in the fourth Draft Decree of the LRH is also introduced. While Article 159.2(b) of the LRH only prohibits foreign individuals and organizations from buying houses in national defence and security area, Article 67 of the fourth Draft Decree of the LRH does not allow them to own residential houses in areas where foreigners are prohibited or restricted from residing or traveling as stipulated under the Law on Residence and Travel.
It is then recommended that these restrictions in the draft decree be removed to ensure competitiveness of the real estate market in Vietnam with that of other countries.
5. First time foreign investors – Current draft restrictions on the right to receive a project
According to Article 15.1(d) of the Draft Decree of the LREB, an application dossier by a project transferee must include an enterprise registration certificate. From a general perspective, domestic investors or foreign investors who already have existing projects in Vietnam could easily meet this requirement. However, it could be a problem for investors who make first time investment in Vietnam with the investment project being the transferred one. We would then recommend the government to place an exception for first time investment by foreign investors to the mentioned requirement.

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

THANK YOU!

ベトナムが東南アジア諸国で最も投資家に友好的な理由

ベトナムはアセアン諸国で最も投資価値のある国であり、近年の投資計画について質問された多くの外国人投資家が共通して答えています。
これはベトナムの近年の投資環境や可能性について大げさに言っているわけではなく、実際に経済の多様性、国際融合、投資法の改正、経済政策の改良などを含めた正当な理由が考慮されています。
経済回復と継続的な発展
ベトナム統計総局の最近の統計によると、ベトナムのGDP成長率は今年はじめの半年間は非常に高く、6.28%でした。これは過去5年間で最も成長率が高く、2015年に目標としていた成長率をはるかに超えています。
ベトナム政府だけが今年の国内経済発展に関して楽観的になっているわけではなく、他国も2015年のベトナムGDP成長率に関して肯定的な見方を示しています。例えば、ANZは2015年、2016年のGDP成長率を6.5%と予想しました。これは、国内需要や製造業への外国人直接投資の関心が増加、また6月には消費者信頼感指数が最大に達したことなどが考慮されています。
PwCの調査による「2050年の世界」では、ベトナムは世界第2位の年間GDP成長比率になると結論しています。2014年から2050年までの平均成長率は毎年5.3%と見込まれ、つまりベトナムは2050年までにアジアの中で最も経済成長が早い国になるということです。
マクロ経済の安定また調整インフレと同様に、ベトナム政府は事業・投資環境の改善や2016年までに地域の国々でトップの主要経済指標を達成させようとしています。
2013年の統計では年間872時間かかっていたタックスコンプライアンスの総処理時間を2015年1月1日には年間370時間へと大幅に減少させました。
また、国際貿易のシングルウィンドウ体制の導入により、商品の通関手続き時間が輸出では21日から14日へ、輸入では13日へ減少させることができると期待されています。
ベトナムの地域、国際融合
投資家は世界経済へ融合するために自由貿易協定(FTA)交渉するなどベトナムの近年の努力は彼らにより良い投資チャンスをもたらすと期待しています。
特に、ベトナムは環太平洋戦略的連携協定(TPP)交渉をしており、TPPは日本やアメリカのような主要な貿易相手国を含むその他12カ国が加盟し、世界GDPの38%を占め、8億人の市場規模があります。ベトナムはアメリカと強く貿易関係を結ぶことによりこの貿易協定で最も利益が大きく、また中国が徐々に競争上の優位性を失いつつある繊維産業で高い競争力をもつと言われています。TPPの参加により、統計ではベトナムのGDPがさらに基準値より13.6%増加すると示しています。
TPPに加え、EU-ベトナム間のFTAでは関税の引き下げ、貿易促進、投資誘致、27のEU諸国へ市場拡大、継続的な発展と経済再構築などといった大きなチャンスをベトナムにもたらすでしょう。
ベトナムとアセアン9諸国は今年中にアセアン経済委員会(AEC)の設立を予定しています。これは6.2億人の消費者規模で、そのうち35歳未満が60%を占める非常にダイナミックな市場になります。この委員会が設立されると、世界第7位の経済規模になり、成長が続けば2050年には第4位になる予定です。AECは魅力的な単独生産拠点、そして国際貿易の促進につながると期待されています。
ベトナムの第2次投資の波
もはや理論ではありません。ベトナムは賃金が上昇している中国からより多くのメーカーがベトナムへ生産シフトをしている為実際に最も利益を受けています。
ベトナムでハイテク投資計画をしている多くの外国人投資家は投資資本金の増加、またFTAが成立したときにチャンスを得るため製造活動の拡大を決定しています。
近年、ベトナムでフランスチーズの有名な製造業者のベル ベトナムは投資資本金を総額17億ドルでビンズオン省に新たな工場の建設を始めました。
LGグループは別のケースで、初期投資資本金を3億ドルでハイフォンに工場建設を予定していましたが、後に15億ドルに資本金を増加することを決定しました。
サムスンは輸出中心の投資戦略で2014年11月に3億ドルの投資資金の増加を発表しました。
繊維分野の投資家もまた今度のTPPで利益を得るためにベトナム市場介入の準備をしています。繊維産業でベトナムの直接ライバルになる中国、インド、タイなどはTPPのメンバーでは無い為、ベトナムはTPPの加盟国に税の優遇措置をとるなどして、これらのライバル国に対する価格競争関連で優位性を得ようとしています。TPPによりベトナムの繊維輸出売上高が2020年には300億ドル、2030年には550億ドルになると期待されています。
新投資法
同時に、政府はビジネス環境を改善するための制度改革の重要性に気づいています。新しい貿易協定が成立し、制度改革がこの協定の条件の1つになれば、さらに重要になってくるからです。
新企業法、新投資法またPPPの政令が採用されこれらの新法は多くの自由を認め、投資家に友好的であると考えられています。事業や投資に対する障害が取り除かれ、外国人投資家にとって分かり易くまた多くの投資環境のチャンスをもたらすでしょう。
2014年投資法では禁止事業活動、また条件付事業活動の数を減少させる試みをしています。重要なことは、初めて2014年投資法で規制しているM&A活動の条件が含まれていることです。2015年7月1日から施行している新投資法では、外国人投資家はベトナムの対象企業の株式を買収する時に長い投資証明書の手続きを受ける必要がなくなりました。この変化はベトナム市場に介入し、またM&Aを通して拡大しようとしている外国人投資家が直面していた何年にもわたる不明確さや妨げを無くすと期待されています。
M&Aの第2次投資の波は2014年から既に始まっているようで、伝えられるところによれば毎週6件の取引が行われています。2014年の合計M&A取引件数は313件で、25億ドルの価値があり、前年と比べると15%上昇しました。
一方で、2014年企業法ではベトナムで複数の法定代表者で構成される法人企業の運営や、法律で禁止されていない全てのタイプの事業活動の遂行などいくつか柔軟性を投資家に許可しています。
加えて、政府は2015年に289の国営企業の民営化を目指し、実質的かつ効果的な民営化を強調しています。民間金融機関の数を2017年に13-15社に削減すように強制しており、ライバル会社や資本金のプレッシャーを受けている小規模な銀行は事業拡大をするために新しい外国人投資家を探しています。
政府は民営化の手続きは株式の数を増加させ、投資家と政府両者にとって双方両得な解決策だと確信しています。2000年から2013年の期間で国営企業の数をほぼ半分の5800社から3135社にまで減少させました。また、民営化の40%が10%以上の成長を遂げていると成功例も報告されています。この成功は非常に可能性のある地域へ外国人投資家を呼び込んでいます。
ベトナムは変化を続けている国で、近年外国企業に対して多くのチャンスを提供しています。経済の根本的強さは、マクロ経済指標の制御、強力な生産性の向上、そして地域・世界経済への大規模な融合に反映されています。
今が外国人投資家にとって事業計画をスタートさせ、今後のチャンスを得る絶好の時期です。
〈ご注意〉この見解はあくまで個人的なものであり、必ずしもタン・ニエン・ニュースの編集立場を示したものではありません。こちらの記事は皆様に情報をお届けする目的でのみ作成・掲載しておりますので、法的なアドバイスとして提供・構成することを目的としておりません。詳細につきましては、当法律事務所の注意書きをご一読下さい。
オリバー・マスマンはドウェイン・モリス・ベトナム法律事務所のディレクターです。ご質問等はomassmann@duanemorris.comまでご連絡ください。「上場企業や電力部門における外資保有比率」を含むその他のブログもご覧いただけます。

BREAKING NEWS – EU – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement: In-principle agreement reached – Vietnam to benefit from greater market access for its goods and services – WHAT YOU MUST KNOW:

The Minister of Industry and Trade of Vietnam, H.E. Vu Huy Hoang and the European Commissioner for Trade, H.E. Cecilia Malmström agreed in principle on the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
After a teleconference on the 4th August 2015 and three years of negotiations with commitments taken by both sides the FTA is considered one of the most comprehensive and ambitious trade and investment agreement. The legal text will be negotiated after the summer break and both sides are aiming to sign and ratify the agreement within this year. It is the second agreement in the ASEAN region after Singapore and it will intensify the bilateral relations between Vietnam and the EU.
The agreement will comprises of Trade of Goods, Rules of Origin, Customs and Trade Facilitation, Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures and Technical Barriers to Trade, Trade in Services, Investment, Trade Remedies, competition, State-Owned Enterprises, Government Procurement, Intellectual Property, sustainable Development, Cooperation and Capacity Building, Legal and Institutional Issues.
The FTA is considered to bring a positive impact for both sides especially for the Trade and Investment Sectors.
Nearly all customs duties – over 99% of the tariffs will be eliminated. The small remaining number is mainly due to the transition period. Vietnam will liberalize 65% of import duties on EU exports to Vietnam at entry into force and the remaining duties will be eliminated due to the next ten years; EU duties will be eliminated over a seven year period. The market will be opened for most of EU food products, i.e. wine, spirits and frozen pork meat will be liberalized after seven years and dairy products after a maximum of five years. The EU will eliminate duties for some sensitive products in the textile and footwear sector. The EU has offered access to Vietnamese exports via tariff rate quotas (TRQs), because some sensitive agricultural products will not be fully liberalized. Furthermore, the agreement will contain an annex with provisions to address non-tariff barriers in the automotive sector.
Regarding the investment sector, the FTA will be able to ensure an open and conductive business and investment environment, particularly will it help to promote the capital flow from the EU and gives Vietnam the opportunity to become a hub whilst connecting the EU’s trade and investments with the region. Both sides have achieved a lot, but the provisions concerning the investment protection and dispute settlements are still being negotiated.
The commitments made concerning investment, trade in service, government procurement, intellectual property rights, etc. will ensure an overall balance between both sides. Even Vietnam has to adapt new regulations. Those adjustments are in content with the Vietnamese attempt of administrative reforms to strengthen the country. Moreover Vietnam will achieve a grade of transparency and procedural fairness.
In the context of Intellectual Property Rights Vietnam has itself committed to standards which go beyond those of the WTO TRIP agreement and is creating a safer environment for EU innovations and brands and a stronger enforcement of those provisions.
Signing the FTA will have a broad impact on Vietnam, i.e. create more jobs and stabilize the welfare for Vietnam. Furthermore, there will be many opportunities to get access to modern technology and sharpen management skills.
There will be a framework within the FTA to resolve any future disagreement which may follow about the understanding and implementation of the agreement.

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

THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Mining in Vietnam – And the Message is:Better Transparency on Fee and Tax Management by Authorities

The economy of Vietnam is heavily dependent on the mining industry. Using modern, high technology in mining was emphasized by Directive No. 2/CT-TTg of January 2012 and Decree No. 15/2015/ND-CP and during a visit by the Prime Minister to Australia. However, the legislation governing the mining sector seem unfriendly to both foreign and local investors, especially concerning the high royalty rates and other taxes and fees, particularly:

Payment for mining rights: Under Decree No. 203/2013/ND-CP, mining companies have to make a payment between 1-5% of the original value of the original ore to get mineral exploitation rights before receiving licenses. This fee is impractical and will deter foreign companies from investing in the mining industry. The reason behind is that in this period, they must spend a lot on exploitation and mining construction without any revenue. Accordingly, they will seek to reduce their investment in mining technologies to pay for such fee. Consequently, advanced and environmentally friendly technology is not used by mining companies for exploitation, resulting in economic inefficiency. In light of the above, the Government should amend the Decree to allow such fee to be paid on an annual basis after the mining companies make revenue.
Environmental protection fee: Circular No. 158/2011/TT-BTC imposes the environmental protection fee on the basis of “the quantity of crude metal mineral ores actually exploited”. The calculation of such fee is only based on the mineral output without taking into account the level of pollution caused by each mine. This regulation is not fair because mining companies using advanced technology to limit impacts on the environment and those which are using cheap technology and destroying the environment must pay the same fee. It will discourage mining companies from investing in modern machinery and technology to protect the environment. The Circular should be amended to reflect the fee calculated in proportion to the levels of pollution caused by mining exploitation.
Royalty tariff on minerals: Under Resolution No. 712/2013/UBTVQH13, the natural resources tax has considerably increased for many types of minerals such as wolfram (18%), titanium (16%), copper (13%), iron (12%), etc. Although the natural resources tax for gold, silver, alumina and bauxite, tin, lead and zinc was not increased but was subject to 10% royalty tariff. Moreover, the Ministry of Finance proposes increasing tax on exploitation of natural resources for almost minerals at 15-50% from 1 January 2016. This has increased the tax burden on the mining companies and it is likely that they will be liquidated. Therefore, the Government should support this industry by postponing the tax increase.
Corporate income tax for mining enterprises: Decree No. 122/ND-CP amending and supplementing a number of articles of the Government’s Decree No. 124/2008/ND-CP detailing and guiding the implementation of a number of articles of the Law on Enterprise Income Tax No. 14/2008/QH12 reduced Corporate Income Tax for all companies to 25% except for mining of precious and rare natural resources which are currently fixed at 50%. Under this Decree, the rate will be reduced to 40%, more than 70% of the mine areas located in difficult social-economic areas. The Decree also confirmed that mineral exploitation activities do not enjoy other incentives of the enterprise income tax.

Although the royalties, fees and taxes of the mining operations in Vietnam are high, but the ways they are collected and spent afterwards are not transparent. The business community is not informed of fee management. The environmental protection fee must be used to recover the environment at the mining areas, however, the mining companies have to pay a fee for this. The Government should publicize information on licensing and financial obligations of the applicants for mining operations and fee management.
Additionally, the Government should not raise taxes at this period because an increase in tax and mining right fee will cause a reduction in investment of the mining companies in the technology. Accordingly, they will use cheap machinery and technology for their mining exploitation activities and this goes contrary to the Prime Minister’s Directive.
In conclusion, in order to encourage more investments in mineral exploitation operations and use of advanced and environmental friendly technology for mining industry, the Government should control the tax collection instead of raising taxes and provide transparency on fee and tax management.

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

INTERESTED IN DOING BUSINESS IN VIETNAM? VISIT: www.vietnamlaws.xyz;

THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Vietnam Current Investment and Trade Issues and Solutions

The Government of Vietnam has made certain success in stabilizing the economy to reach a high growth rate projection in 2015 by World Bank (i.e., 6%) and maintain import-export balance over the five years. Nevertheless, there are a lot of outstanding issues which should be further addressed as analysed below:
1. Enforcement and recognition of arbitral awards – Status, issues and solutions
The major regulatory framework on arbitration proceedings in Vietnam includes the Law on Commercial Arbitration No. 54/2010/QH12, which took effect on 1 January 2011 (“Arbitration Law”) and replaced the Ordinance on Commercial Arbitration (“Arbitration Ordinance”) in 2003; Decree No. 63/2011/ND-CP of the Government on detailing the implementation of certain regulations in the Arbitration Law (“Decree No. 63/2011”) and Resolution No. 01/2014/NQ-HDTP by the Vietnamese Supreme Court guiding the implementation of a number of regulations in the Arbitration Law (“Resolution No. 01”).
Vietnam also ratified the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 1958 in September 1995 and the provisions of the New York Convention have been incorporated into the arbitration laws in Vietnam.
The above shows that Vietnam has made great attempts in building a legal framework for arbitration which played an important role in attracting foreign investment over the recent years. However, statistics from Vietnam International Arbitration Centre show that almost 50% (19 out of 44) of its awards submitted for recognition and enforcement were set aside. This is a disaster as this number is far below the statistics in other countries (for example, Japan – 100%; China and Hong Kong – 90% of arbitral awards are recognized and enforced).
The reason behind it lies in the judges’ misunderstanding of fundamental principles of arbitration, which is based on a contractual agreement between parties to submit their disagreement to a dispute settlement forum, where they await a simplified and expedited procedure. However, the judges seem to complicate it and apply very strict standards to arbitration awards that are simply unnecessary and inappropriate. The judges even re-consider the merit of the case despite it being heard by arbitrators’ expertise in relevant fields and provide no chance of challenge. The main reasons for judges to annul arbitral awards could be summarized in two points as follows: (i) arbitration procedures failing to strictly follow procedures under the Civil Procedure Code; and (ii) the arbitral awards in certain aspects violating fundamental principles of Vietnamese law.
Arbitration procedures failing to strictly follow procedures under the Civil Procedure Code
It should be noted that when parties to the dispute agree to submit their case to arbitration by a contractual agreement, they already opt to select a much more simplified and tailor-made procedures than court litigation. They stipulate the rules of arbitration to be applied. The principle that, dispute resolution by arbitration is a contractually agreed process and does not involve timely and costly procedural rules as litigation does, is widely recognized in every arbitration organization in the world. Claiming that arbitration procedures do not follow procedures under the Vietnam’s Civil Procedure Code is a baseless, unreasonable argument and goes against the main spirit of arbitration process.
The arbitral awards in certain aspects violating fundamental principles of Vietnamese law
“Fundamental principles of Vietnamese law” is a very vague and ambiguous concept that is nowhere defined in Vietnamese law. Further, there is also no consistent standard of “fundamental principles” so the Vietnamese judges take certain discretion in assessing the compliance of arbitral awards with Vietnamese fundamental principles. They take the view that anything that is not compliant with Vietnamese administrative procedures would be considered violating “fundamental principles”. Due to the inaccessibility to the court’s decisions by the public, it is nearly impossible to establish a well-founded jurisprudence of what “fundamental principles” are. It is also create unpredictability in the court decision in recognizing and enforcing arbitral awards.
All of the above somehow discourages foreign investors from having their disputes resolved in judicial system of Vietnam. With an attempt to addressing this problems, certain measures are strongly requested to take by the Government.
How to protect the parties from the request for setting aside an arbitral award
Recently, with the issuance of Resolution No. 01, the Council of Judges gave a signal to support the enforcement of domestic arbitral awards in Vietnam as well as the development of arbitration proceedings. Resolution No. 01 provides more criteria and grounds for handling a request for annulment and especially, the cases when an arbitral award is set aside are more clearly defined. However, there should also be a special mechanism to appeal to judicial decisions that annul arbitral awards on an unreasonable and wrongful basis.
In order to do that, the Government should first task a special body to review all the cases that have been set aside. The content of the case as well as the court’s decision must be made public for transparency purposes and this could be considered as a supervising tool of the public on the court and review process.
2. New Investment Law and Enterprise Law – standing issues
Under the old Investment Law, the Investment Registration Certificate (“IRC”) concurrently serves as the Enterprise Registration Certificate (“ERC”) of a foreign-invested company. However, under the new Investment Law which takes effect from 01 July 2015, enterprises need to apply for two separate certificates with different application dossiers. Though the timeline and procedures seem to be quicker and clearer, investors are still concerned about the reason behind the separate applications, especially in the context of administrative reforms conducted by the Government.
The new Investment Law shortens the period for charter capital contribution from 03 (three) years to (90) ninety days. In connection with the existence of two separate certificates, investors are concerned about the delay it may cause when applying for an increase in the charter capital. (Note: Charter capital is an amount contributed by the investor to establish a legal entity). Such delay could result in slow disbursement of the additional capital, which in turn affect business operations of enterprises. Thus, the Government needs to take further measures to prevent such delay.
With regards to conditional sectors, the number has been reduced much compared with the old laws and from several workshops on this topic, conditional sectors will only be promulgated by the Government and the National Assembly. However, in terms of conditions applicable to doing business in conditional sectors and any inconsistency, it is unclear which law will prevail (the Investment Law itself or its implementing decrees, ordinances, etc.).
3. Draft Circular on import of used equipment – New trade restrictive measures?
Draft Circular No. 20/2014/TT-BKHCN is to take effect on July 01, 2015 to encourage imports of new machinery, equipment and production lines that are manufactured with the latest technology. This Draft Circular is aimed to prevent Vietnam from being a “dumping ground” of old technology and scrap machinery in place of China when this country adopted a regulation prohibiting imports of used machinery and equipment.
Despite the good intention of the Draft Circular, it somehow introduces new trade restrictive measures that could be considered as violation of Vietnam’s international treaties and agreements. In particular, the Draft Circular conditions the imports of used machinery and equipment on its usage period of 10 years and remaining quality of 80%. While it is hard to evaluate the quality of technology and production lines due to available information of the products, it is even harder and impractical to apply these standards across all types of technology and production lines. Furthermore, the Draft Circular also requires the imported goods be in conformity with safety, energy saving and environment protection and be inspected before being imported and customs released. This may significantly delay the customs clearance process and create more burden for enterprises, which go contrary to the objectives mentioned in Resolution No. 19 of the Prime Minister in 2015. A question of consistency with the WTO Agreement on Pre-shipment Inspection and WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade arises in relation with the required standards and pre-shipment requirement as well.
4. Tax administration
Vietnam currently ranks 78 out of 189 countries in terms of ease of doing business according to 2015 World Bank Report. This low ranking is mainly due to tax problems such as requiring importers to pay VAT twice on the same import transaction, delay in tax complaints resolution, etc.
It is notable that business complaints do not mostly relate to high total tax over net profit of 40% but the compliance cost and time, lack of predictability, simplicity and transparency in the tax system.
The Government should take immediate actions to improve the tax administration for a better growth in Vietnam’s economy.
5. Privatization of state-owned enterprises – the problem for every solution…
State-owned enterprises have long played an important role in Vietnam’s economy. These enterprises have operated in an inefficient manner compared with private companies, many enterprises operating at loss for several years. Therefore, the Government has conducted several rounds of state-owned enterprises reform. However, setting aside the ambitious target of 289 state-owned enterprises to be privatized in 2015, the privatization process has been very slow and only by name. Only 5%- 20% of the shares are offered for sale, which is too low to attract foreign investors. They will be reluctant to invest in these enterprises as long as they have no chance to gain decision-making power by purchase of shares. The Government must then show stronger effort and commitment in reforming state-owned enterprises to attract more foreign investment in the process.

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Please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN DOING BUSINESS IN VIETNAM PLEASE VISIT: www.vietnamlaws.xyz
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Question on doing business in Vietnam!

Interview by Vietnam Financial Times
Oliver Massmann

Question 1: What do you think about the reform in tax and customs of Vietnam so far? For the German enterprises in Vietnam, how do these policies affect them?

Over the past year, we have seen significant efforts and progress made by the General Department of Customs in terms of improved regulations, more effective e-customs operations, and increased dialogue and consultation with the business community. From 01st January 2015, the new Customs Law takes effect with its implementing Decrees coming into force later on 15 March. The implementing Circulars are also already in force from 01 April with the most notable one being Circular No. 38/2015/TT-BTC. This Circular, which replaces 13 previous customs regulations, is considered most comprehensive among the new regulations. While there are still more regulations being adopted soon following the new Customs Law, for example, regulations on advance customs rulings, post-clearance inspection, or regulations in anticipation of the upcoming Free Trade Agreements, impacts on German enterprises need to be accessed later.

We have also seen much progress in reforming Vietnam’s tax procedures over recent years. Up to 01 January 2015, the total time for tax compliance is reduced to 370 hours per year, which is an impressive decrease compared with 872 hours annually according to the 2013 statistics. Time for tax declaration and payment is also reduced to 121.5 hours per year, with possibility of online tax declaration and payment. Although German enterprises highly appreciate these tax reforms, we would expect that the efforts are not only at Government or ministerial levels but also at the local levels where we have to deal with the authorities there directly.

Question 2: How do the German enterprises in Vietnam look at the VN’s business environment? In the future, what should VN adjust to attract more German enterprises?

The Government of Vietnam has made certain success in stabilizing the economy to reach a high growth rate projection in 2015 by World Bank (i.e., 6%) and maintain import-export balance over the five years.

Vietnam is also extremely successful in international economic integration, especially by joining the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), the European – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (“EVFTA”), Korea – ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, Japan – ASEAN Economic Partnership Agreement, and establishment of the customs union Russia- Kazakhstan-Belarus, and notably the ASEAN Economic Community by end of this year. Vietnam is expected to be the main beneficiary of the major trade pacts, with additional growth of 13.6% (for the TPP) and 15% growth of GDP (for the EVFTA). With such deep integration into the multilateral and regional economy, Vietnam is expected to be an attractive investment environment for investors and witness a significant growth in the upcoming years.

Moreover, with the adoption of the 2014 Investment Law and Enterprise Law, the investment environment in Vietnam now even becomes more attractive to foreign investors, especially to German investors. Nevertheless, there are still certain outstanding issues that should be further addressed to attract foreign investors in general and German enterprises in particular. These problems include annulment and unenforceability of arbitral awards in Vietnam, certain trade restrictive measures in the field of import and export, burdens created for enterprise in tax administration by state authority, and especially corrosive and widespread corruption in Vietnam. These problems require Government’s stronger efforts and urgent actions to solve, in addition to several current attempts which we really appreciate.

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Please do not hesitate to contact Mr. 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.

INTERESTED IN DOING BUSINESS IN VIETNAM? VISIT: www.vietnamlaws.xyz

THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

More room for foreign investors in Vietnam’s securities market

On 26 June 2015, the Government issued Decree No. 60/2015/ND-CP to amend and supplement certain provisions of Decree No. 58/2012/ND-CP on detailing and guiding the implementation of certain provisions of the Law on Securities and the Law on amending and supplementing certain provisions of the Law on Securities (“Decree 60”).
More flexible foreign ownership ratio in public listed companies
Previously, foreign ownership ratio in public listed companies is the same for all sectors and subsectors. Decree 60 now provides different foreign ownership ratio for each sector and subsector, in particular:
– Requirements on foreign ownership limits in international treaties to which Vietnam is a party will prevail;
– In case public listed companies do business in sectors, subsectors where foreign ownership limits are stipulated by the investment law and its related requirements, such limits will apply;
– In case public listed companies do business in conditional sectors or subsectors applicable for foreign investors but there is not yet a specific requirement on foreign ownership limit, such limit would be 49%;
– In case public listed companies do business in different sectors or subsectors with different requirements on foreign ownership limits, the applicable foreign ownership limit will not exceed the lowest foreign ownership limit required for sectors or subsectors that the company does business in, except otherwise stipulated by the international treaties;
– There would be no limit on foreign ownership ratio for other public listed companies, except otherwise stipulated by the company’s charter.
Decree 60 is thus expected to have a positive impact on the development of the securities market by attracting more foreign investment in the market and expedite the current equitization process.
Unlimited foreign investment in Government bond
Decree 60 allows foreign investors to make unlimited investment in Government bonds, bonds guaranteed by the Government, bonds of the provincial authority or enterprises.
Foreign investors may also invest in securities investment fund certificates, shares of securities investment companies, non-voting shares of public listed companies, derivative securities, and depository receipts without limit.
New delisting requirements
If the listing company does not meet the listing requirements after its offer for sale, issues 50% or over of its existing shares in exchange for shares or contribution part in another company, the securities delisting is compulsory.
The company may also voluntarily delist their securities with the condition that there is approval of at least 51% of the voting shares of all shareholders (not including major shareholders) instead of 50% in the previous requirement. The delisting can only be conducted after at least two years from the listing date on the stock exchange.

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Please do not hesitate to contact Mr. 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.

INTERESTED IN DOING BUSINESS IN VIETNAM? VISIT: www.vietnamlaws.xyz

THANK YOU VERY MUCH