VIETNAM – DIRECT POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENT MECHANISM IS UNDERWAY

Recently, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has published the Draft Circular on the pilot implementation of the direct power purchase between renewable power project developers (RE GENCO or GENCO) and consumers (“the Draft”).

The pilot is to be implemented nationwide with a total capacity of selected projects of 1,000 MW at max. The nominal capacity of each project must be 30 MW. Consumers can directly negotiate, purchase electricity with GENCO under a Fixed-term Contract. The two parties shall agree upon electricity price and output in the Contract for future trading cycles. GENCO and the consumer must also calculate and carry out payment for the contract output under the Contract for the difference between the contract price and the market price (i.e. reference price).

Under the Draft, renewable energy generators are defined as:
• organizations, individuals owing a grid-connected solar or wind power plant;
• installed capacity of the plant is more than 30 MW (conversion rate for solar plants: 01 MWp equals 0.8 MW);
• project already included in the power development plan that has been approved by competent authority;
• have a binding principle agreement with consumers to sell electricity; and
• are selected for the pilot implementation of DPPA by competent authority.

Electricity consumers are:
• organizations, individuals purchasing electricity for industrial production at a voltage level of 22 KV or higher;
• have a binding principle agreement with the RE GENCO to purchase electricity; and
• are selected for the pilot implementation of DPPA by competent authority.

Selection criteria of the pilot implementation participants:
For electricity generators:
• have a committed COD deadline of the whole power plant of no more than 270 working days since the date of announcement on the plant being selected to participate in the pilot implementation; or
• have written document of financial institutions on the financing for the power plant.

For consumers:
• have renewable energy usage commitments or is a manufacturing enterprise in the
supply chain of corporations or enterprises that have renewable energy usage commitments; or
• have the annual contracted proportion of electricity purchased
from GENCO to the total electricity consumption in the same year provided by
PC in the first 3 years of the DPPA program participation of at least 80%.

GENCO must submit a bid to the System and Market Operator (“SMO”) for the direct purchase and payment of electricity with the energy buyer. The bid must include, among others, a bid price of zero (VND/kWh) for the range of capacity open for bidding. The capacity stated in the bid is the declared capacity of GENCO. On the operation day, GENCO may amend and submit bid for the following day or for the remaining trading cycles of the day to SMO at least 30 minutes before the beginning of trading cycle making use of the new bid content.

Applicable power purchase agreement template:
• Between developer and EVN: the published contract templates in Decree 18/2020/TT-BCT for solar energy project and in Circular 02/2019/TT-BCT for wind energy project
• Between developer and consumer: to be drafted by the parties
• Between consumer and EVN: to be drafted by EVN, taking into consideration consumers’ opinion.

The direct power purchase agreement mechanism can bring about numerous benefits, namely enabling the imposition of take-or-pay obligation on off-takers in order to guarantee developer’s revenue stream, fixed electricity purchase price that is not subject to change in or delay on the implementation of national legislations, flexibility in monthly exchange rate calculation and increasing consumer’s environmental commitments. Developers and consumers must incorporate international standards regarding step-in right, dispute settlement, and termination to make the direct power purchase agreement bankable. A bankable DPPA put developers in advantage when seeking financial supports for the project from banks and other credit institutions. Duane Morris will keep our readers updated of any new revisions to or decision regarding the Direct Power Purchase Agreement mechanism.

For more information on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the author Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC, Member to the Supervisory Board of PetroVietnam Insurance JSC and the only foreign lawyer presenting in Vietnamese language to members of the NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF VIETNAM.

VIETNAM – REGULATIONS ON ONLINE GAMES THAT FOREIGN INVESTORS NEED TO KNOW

Guiding regulations:

Decree No. 72/2013/ND-CP on the management, provision and use of Internet services and online information;
Decree No.103/2009/ND-CP promulgating the regulation on cultural activities and commercial provision of public cultural services;
Vietnam’s Specific Commitments to WTO in Services

Enterprise Establishment:
Foreign investors who wish to engage in the online games distribution service must have either a Contract of Business Cooperation or a joint venture with a Vietnamese partner who is eligible to provide online gaming business. In case of a joint venture, the foreign investors’ capital must not exceed 49%.

The joint venture can be in the form of a Limited Liability Company or a Joint Stock Company. Generally, there are more options to mobilize capital in a Joint Stock Company.

Only Vietnamese enterprises can apply for G1, G2, G3 and G4 gaming license in Vietnam. A Vietnamese entity is defined under Law on Enterprise 2014 as an entity established or registered to establish under Vietnam laws and has headquarter in Vietnam.

Online Games Classification:
G1: Video games that have interaction among multiple players via the game server
G2: Video games that only have interaction between the players and the game server
G3: Video games that have interaction among multiple players without interaction between players and the game server
G4: Video games that are downloaded from the Internet without the interaction among players and between players and the game server

Licensing procedures for G1 Games:
G1 gaming license expires after 10 years and you can only extend it once for one extra year. The Ministry of Information and Technology is seeking to reduce the license’s validity to only 5 years.

Conditions to apply for G1 gaming license:
-Must have a headquarter and contact number
-Registered for a domain name to use to provide the service
-At least 1 personnel administers 2 servers
-The business manager must have at least a Bachelor’s degree
-Sufficient financial capacity, adequate gaming systems
-Have backup plan for equipment and connection as well as data backup plan
-Have professional measures to manage game forum content

Important documents of application dossier:
-Documents proving the ownership of domain name
-Business location rental/ownership contract
-Game service payment plan
-List of partners providing payment assistance service
-Detailed description of host devices

After attaining G1 gaming license, you would need to obtain Approval for script content for each G1 game in order to operate the G1 game

Conditions to apply for Approval of script content for each G1 game:
-Game content must be culturally appropriate
-The game’s age rating must be suitable with the content
-Have measures to manage players’ account

During operation phase, the game provider must ensure to manage under 18-year-old player’s time to not exceed 180 minutes in 24 hours each day

For more information on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the author Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC, Member to the Supervisory Board of PetroVietnam Insurance JSC and the only foreign lawyer presenting in Vietnamese language to members of the NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF VIETNAM.

VIETNAM – THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY INCORPORATED DUANE MORRIS’S RECOMMENDATIONS INTO VIETNAM’S FIRST EVER LAW ON INVESTMENT IN THE FORM OF PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP (PPP)

On 13 May this year, Dr. Oliver Massmann discussed about the Draft PPP Law with key personnel of the National Assembly. On 8 July 2020, Vietnam’s first-ever Law on Investment in the form of Public-Private Partnership was published, incorporating the following recommendations suggested by Duane Morris:

1. Clarify the scope and scale of power projects eligible for PPP investment

Article 4 of the PPP Law envisages that 5 sectors eligible for PPP investment include:
a/ Transportation;
b/ Power grids, power plants, except for hydroelectricity power plants and cases of State monopoly in accordance with Electricity Law;
c/ Irrigation; water supply; drainage, and wastewater treatment; waste treatment;
d/ Healthcare, education, training
dd/ Infrastructure for application of information technology
The PPP law also stipulates the total investment capital requirement for a PPP project. For instance, excluding Operation & Maintenance Contracts, power projects must have the minimum total invested capital of VND 200 billions. The figure is lower (VND 100 billions) for projects in areas with difficult socio-economic conditions.

2. Emphasize the importance of bankable PPP contracts

Duane Morris suggested that the National Assembly should consider providing a bankable PPP contract template in the Law itself or in its guiding decree/circular. In Article 47 of the PPP law, it was supplemented that the Government shall regulate the issuance of standard contracts for BOT, BTO, BOO, O&M, BTL, BLT, BT or mixed contracts projects.
Regarding lenders’ step-in right, PPP Law sets forth that in case of termination of PPP project contract ahead of the deadline and it is required to select a replacement contractor to ensure the progress of the project, the lender must coordinate with the State to select the alternative investor.

3. Determine in details investment incentives that investors can enjoy

Article 80 specifies that investors are provided with security regarding land access rights, right to use land and other public properties, property mortgage right, right to trade the project and its infrastructure system. PPP project enterprises are also given priority to utilize public services for implementation of the project, and competent agencies must assist investors in carrying out necessary procedures in order to optimize this priority.

Other notable provisions in the new PPP Law:

1/ Foreign currency balance-ensuring scheme is applicable to projects subject to the National Assembly or the Prime Minister’s issuance of decision on investment policy. The latter applied for projects with total invested capital of at least VND 5000 billions, suggesting that all power projects eligible for PPP investment are automatically eligible for this foreign currency scheme. In addition, there is a ceiling of 30% to be imposed for all PPP projects.

2/ Revenue risk sharing mechanism
When the actual revenue reaches more than 125% of the revenue in the financial plan of the PPP project contract, investor to share with the State 50% of the increase between actual revenue and committed revenue in the contract.
When the actual revenue reaches less than 75% of the revenue in the financial plan of the PPP project contract, the State to share with investor 50% of the decrease between actual revenue and committed revenue in the contract. This revenue reduction sharing mechanism is applied when the following conditions are met:
1. Type of contract: BOT, BTO or BOO;
2. The cause of loss is change in laws and policies;
3. Measures to adjust product and public service prices and contract terms have been implemented but the total revenue is still less than 75%; and
4. The State Audit has audited the revenue reduction.

3/ Selection of contractors to execute PPP projects
PPP contracts must contain binding content on the contractor’s responsibility if the quality of the project does not meet the agreed requirements.
Usage of domestic contractors is encouraged for works that can be carried out by them.

4/ Governing laws: PPP contract, its annexes and related documents are to be construed and interpreted in accordance with Vietnamese laws.

Conclusion
It is our pleasure that the National Assembly took into consideration Duane Morris’ advice and recommendations. These moves are a step in the right direction.
It remains to be seen whether there will be the political will to fully implement PPP projects regularly and on large scale.

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Please do not hesitate to contact the author Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC, Member to the Supervisory Board of PetroVietnam Insurance JSC and the only foreign lawyer presenting in Vietnamese language to members of the NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF VIETNAM.

VIETNAM – BREAKING AMAZING NEWS: EU-VIETNAM FREE TRADE AGREEMENT COMES INTO FORCE ON 1 AUGUST 2020

With the EVFTA coming into effect, Vietnam will eliminate import duties on 91.8% of tariff lines, equivalent to 97.1% of EU exports.

Some notable provisions of the EVFTA are as follows:

Tax:
Vietnam commits to eliminate import duties on 48.5% of tariff lines, equivalent to 64.5% of EU exports immediately after the Agreement came into effect.

After 7 years, import taxes on 91.8% of tariff lines (equivalent to 97.1% of EU exports) will be removed from Vietnam. After 10 years, the abolition rate will be 98.3% of the total tariff lines, equal to 99.8% of the EU’s exports respectively.

Banking:
Vietnam pled to favorably consider allowing EU credit institutions to raise foreign ownership to 49% of charter capital in two Vietnamese joint stock commercial banks. This commitment will be valid for 5 years only (after the expiry of 5 years Vietnam will not be bound by this commitment) and is not applicable to 4 banks where the State is holding a large sum of shares (i.e. BIDV, Vietinbank, Vietcombank and Agribank).

Market access:
For the sectors listed in the Specific Schedule of Commitments, except where there is a specific reservation, the two parties undertake to not apply restrictions related to: (i) the number of businesses enterprises are allowed to participate in the market, (ii) the transaction value, (iii) the number of activities, (iv) foreign capital contribution, (v) the form of legal entities, (vi) the number of natural persons recruitment.

Public procurement packages:
Under EVFTA, Vietnam commits to allow EU contractors to participate in bidding packages that simultaneously meet the three conditions regarding Value of bidding package; Shopping agency; Goods and services need shopping.

Distribution service:
Vietnam has agreed to abolish the requirement of economic needs test five years after the date of entry into force of the Agreement, but Vietnam reserves the right to implement the distribution system planning on a non-discriminatory basis. Vietnam also agrees not to discriminate in the production, import and distribution of alcohol, allowing EU businesses to reserve their operating conditions under current licenses and only need one license to carry out import, distribution, wholesale and retail activities.

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Please do not hesitate to contact the author Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC, Member to the Supervisory Board of PetroVietnam Insurance JSC and the only foreign lawyer presenting in Vietnamese language to members of the NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF VIETNAM.

VIETNAM ECONOMIC TIMES INTERVIEWING DR. OLIVER MASSMANN ON DEVELOPMENT IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICE SECTOR

1. It can be said that FDI inflows has become the growth momentum for Vietnam’s banking and finance industry over the past few years. How do you comment on the changes in the local financial services sector recently?

There has been increasing foreign investment in Vietnam’s banking and finance industry, especially via M&A at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. Currently, foreign investors are very optimistic about Vietnam’s steady economic growth and plan to expand their coverage in the market. They believe economic development will drive more demand for banking and finance activities, thus more opportunities for growth in the sector. Moreover, M&A activities have helped local banks improve their financial capacity and competitiveness in the market. Local credit institutions have diversified their products and services, applied more modern technology in their operation. Under competition pressure from foreign credit institutions, local ones have no way but to also enhance banking governance capacity as well as human resources quality. These in turn help local credit institutions grow in a more stable and safe manner.

2. How have foreign financial organizations been contributing to improve Vietnam’s financial services sector so far?

Foreign financial organizations which have track recorded experience in other countries, with wide network and customer resources, when coming to Vietnam have brought in high technology, wide variety of finance and banking products/ services, as well as management/ governance capacity. Vietnam’s financial organizations have learnt a lot from these new players, thus modernizing their own system, creating more products/ services for Vietnamese customers who have not become a major part of customer portfolio of foreign financial organizations. These local organizations and Vietnam’s financial services have somehow developed to a modern, internationally standardized level, thus making them more attractive to foreign investors.

3. A number of free trade agreements (FTAs) that Vietnam will ratify shortly are expected to drive FDI flows into the country’ financial services sector in the coming time. How do you see about this prospect?

Both the CPTPP and the EVFTA have higher level of market access commitments than the WTO. In addition, investors are better protected under the CPTPP and the EVFTA in Vietnam. The Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) will ensure highest standards of legal certainty and enforceability for investors. 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. Such legal certainties along with the Government’s attempts to improve investment environment drive more FDIs flows into the country.

4. How do you forecast about some investment trends of international financial organizations into Vietnam this year?

Given the Government’s recent encouragement of investing in current banks rather than establishing new ones, M&A in the sector will be very vibrant. It is the fact that in recent years many investors have expressed their interest in becoming shareholders in certain commercial banks, especially weak/ VND 0 banks that need assistance in recovery, handling bad debts and restructuring. Moreover, Basel II standards will begin to apply from 2020, so there will be huge demand for capital to meet such strict requirements. However, as local banks are still looking for appropriate partners, we expect more major successful deals in the upcoming time.

5. What should Vietnamese government do to make the local financial services sector more accessible to foreign investors?

The Government should open more room for foreign ownership in local financial institutions, as most of them have nearly reached the allowed limit. This will lure more foreign participation in the market, thus creating opportunities to local financial sectors to absorb experience, management capacity, technology, etc. to become a stable and promising market in the region. The Government should also continue to complete the legal framework on financial services sector to comply with its commitments under signed FTAs, thus raising investors’ confidence in the system and willingness to invest further.

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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.

Vietnam – Power Sector Reform Competitive Auction Mechanism For New Generation Investment – What You Must Know:

On 31 August 2018, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) co-arranged a workshop to introduce the first ADB’s Technical Assistance (TA) on competitive auction mechanism for new power generation investment in Vietnam. The TA aims at improving the arrangements for investment to ensure adequate energy supply and to be compatible with Vietnam Wholesale Electricity Market (VWEM) in Vietnam’s power sector.
Please find below key topics of the workshop since this may affect the power generation sector and its policy in the upcoming years.

1. MOIT’s Highlights on Current Status and Challenges for New Generation

Vietnam has enjoyed one of the world’s most rapid economic growth rates i.e., an average of more than 6% p.a. Vietnam has a wide range of primary energy sources such as crude oil, coal, natural gas and hydropower for economic development. However, it has still relied heavily on less “environmentally friendly” primary fossil fuel, though it started to promote renewable energy recently.
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.

2. Foreign investment is a must!

Vietnam desperately need a significant amount of investment on new power generation to achieve its demand under the revised PDP VII, approx. US$7 billion to US$10 billion annually. However, the Government of Vietnam does not currently provide guarantee for this sector, and ODA loan is not a viable option for new generation investment. Local financing and resource are also constrained as Electricity of Vietnam (EVN)’s credit limit has been reached. Currently, several power generation projects have been delayed for 3 to 5 years, that would cause the revised PDPVII’s estimates for 2025 to be outdated very soon.
It is also noted that Vietnam is facing a high risk on fuel guarantee for power generation as one of its key sources (natural gas) is unstable as a result of crisis at Bien Dong area (or South China Sea). In fact, the progress of Block B and Blue Whale are very risky and delayed.
Accordingly, Vietnam must reform its playfield and framework to harmonize the system and policies to attract more foreign investment projects on power generation sector.
Vietnam Full Wholesale Electricity Market is coming soon!
The MOIT reported its 4 steps timeline for implementation of full VWEM: (i) 2016: Pilot VWEM Step 1 (Paper Market), (ii) 2017 to 2018: Pilot VWEM Step 2, (iii) 2019: Initiating VWEM under MOIT’s decision 3038, and (iv) finally after 2019: implementing full VWEM under MOIT’s Decision 8266.
Full VWEM will have the following key features:
– Market Model (Mandatory Cost-Based Gross Pool): (i) all generators (30MW or more) is required to directly participate the full VWEM to sell its power, (ii) all retailers (5 Power Corporations under EVN) must buy energy from the full VWEM, and (iii) gradually, the cost-based Pool will be transformed to Price-Based Pool.
– Trading and Dispatch intervals: will be reduced to 30 minutes from 1 hour.
– Generation Scheduling: will apply the model of full transmission network stimulation when the full market IT system available.
– Key types of contracts under VWEM: vesting contract, bilateral contract and centrally contract auction.

3. Competitive Auction Mechanism for New Generation Investment

The TA is to recommend the Vietnam Government to consider and implement policies for implementation of Competitive Auction Mechanism for new generation projects with the following key features:
– To ensure that new power generation projects to be selected through auction process based on least cost and greatest value;

– To improve and ensure the competition between domestic and international developers, and competition between technologies;

– To consistently implement VWEM-compatible contracting framework irrespective of type of developer or technology; and

– To apply and prefer BOO like long term CFDs (contracts for difference) rather than current PPAs (power purchase agreements) as the CFDs are more bankable and may produce more efficient outcome over the generator’s lifetime.

Unfortunately, details of Competitive Auction Mechanism such as forms of PPAs, CFDs, BOO projects, auction process, currency exchange and repatriation guarantee, will be researched and presented by ADB later within this year.

4. Other MOIT’s Highlight on Renewable Power Projects

At the workshop, the MOIT’s representative also commented on certain new policies for renewable power projects as below:

– The MOIT is drafting a policy to introduce new Feed-in Tariff (FIT) and draft PPA for Solar Power Projects that fail to meet COD deadline under Decision 11. The MOIT confirmed that such new FIT will be lower than the current 9.35 US Cent. This policy is likely to be approved by the Government within this year.

– The MOIT is drafting a policy to promulgate new FITs and draft PPAs for wind projects. This policy is likely to be issued within this year.

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Please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com or any lawyers 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.

Vietnam Investment Review interviewing lawyer in Vietnam Dr. Oliver Massmann on trends in Mergers and Acquisitions in Vietnam

1. How do you judge the M&A trends in Vietnam at the current time?

The M&A market in Vietnam since the beginning of this year is very active. Foreign investors tend to invest in public listed companies or companies with good brand in the market. Sectors that attract the most interest of foreign investors are finance, real estate, retail, consumer goods, etc.
The reason is that the investors are very optimistic about the development of Vietnam’s market. In addition, the Government has also made several successful attempts to improve the investment environment, including the consideration for the amendment of the Law on Securities, which is believed to bring better financial sources to the country.

2. What should foreign investors benefit from the trends and what should they be aware of?

The Government’s privatization of many state-owned enterprises this year together with the fact that many enterprises with large capitalization and of great interest to foreign investors in these sectors are now preparing for the public listing give foreign investors more investment choices. However, they should conduct a full due diligence on the target to make sure that their investment is secured and in compliance with Vietnam laws.

3. What are still the shortcomings of the M&A deals in Vietnam?

Transparency is a barrier to foreign investors. The local target companies do not adopt international accounting standards or the equivalent, or are not willing to disclose sensitive information to their potential partners. In certain cases, for example, in real estate development projects, under table expenses are of great concern to foreign investors, especially those from the US, EU, UK, Japan and Korea.

4. Many people keep worry of the loss for not only local brands but also the local culture with more foreign domination after the M&A. What are your opinions about the matter?

It should not be of great concern. Foreign investors when buying in local companies/ brands usually bring technology, high-quality management standards and capital, which local companies lack. This helps the local companies/ brands better compete in the market, especially in case of Vietnam’s deep integration into the world and regional economy. Moreover, culture is something that foreign investors have to adapt to be able to survive in Vietnam. The case of Grab and Uber is an example.

5. What is the forecast of the trend in the future? And how they will drive the market?

Leading enterprises with good financial capacity and high growth in the sectors will attract both foreign and domestic investment. It is noted that in 2018, there will be a number of state-owned enterprises privatized under the Prime Minister’s decision. These enterprises include Habeco, Vinamilk, etc. which is believed to be successfully privatized following the recent success of Sabeco, another state-owned enterprise in the beverage sector under the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s management.
In terms of capital sources, we can expect a cash flow coming from major Asian economies such as Japan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and especially mainland China which increases their strong presence in the market.
We strongly believe that the equitisation of SOEs of a larger scale and with a strong determination from the top would play a key role in driving the market.

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

Vietnam – Solar Power Breaking News – Possible Extension of deadline for Feed in Tariff (9.35 USD cent per KW) – what you must know:

The current solar Feed-in-Tariff for on-grid projects in Vietnam is 2,086 Vietnamese dong/kWh (equivalent to 9.35 UScents/kWh) (VAT excluded). According to Decision 11/2017/QD-TTg, this solar FIT applies for projects which come into operation before 30 June 2019 and within 20 years from the commercially operational date (“COD”) (i.e., the date when the solar plant is ready to sell electricity to the buyer – EVN).

However, from our informal high level contact within the MOIT recently, it is very likely that the solar FIT of US9.35 cents/kWh will continue to apply beyond the original COD (i.e. 30 June 2019). The deadline shall be likely extended for another half a year or another year for solar projects across Vietnam, except for projects in Ninh Thuan. This policy is not yet formally adopted but very likely will be publicized at the end of this year.

For solar projects in Ninh Thuan, the COD deadline extension will be longer (i.e. for another one and a half year from 30 June 2019). This is due to the fact that, in Ninh Thuan province, nuclear energy development has been stopped and the Government would like to develop solar energy there to support the province’s economic development.The special policy for solar projects in Ninh Thuan will be coming very soon, according to our MOIT contact. He informed us that the Deputy Prime Minister has already approved this special policy for Ninh Thuan and all await formal procedures.

We will closely monitor to update on any further changes.

Please contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have questions on the topic or any other lawyer in our office listing. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris LLC.

VIETNAM – THOMSON REUTERS INTERVIEWING DR. OLIVER MASSMANN ON INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERINGS (IPO)

1. Why has there been so much IPO activity in Vietnam of late? What has been driving it?

The investors are very optimistic about the development of Vietnam’s market. Vietnam’s GDP in Q1/2018 is 7.4%, the highest rate in the past 10 years. In addition, there is growing middle class with great purchasing power. The World Bank predicts that the middle class will account for 26% of Vietnam’s population by 2026, double than the current statistics. The Government has also made several attempts to improve the investment environment.

2. How is this resulting in the legal work that the law firm is seeing out of Vietnam? What kinds of clients are you advising, and what kinds of advice are they requesting?

When the investors are new to the market, they will need legal advice to secure their investment and comply with Vietnam laws. We see this a great chance to improve our business and show our expertise in the sector. Most of our clients are from the US and Europe, who would like to take advantage of the upcoming free trade agreements such as the EU- Vietnam FTA and the CPTPP and expand their business to other neighboring countries. We mainly advise clients on due diligence of the partner, how to structure the investment and the best cooperation form.

3. What are some of the key trends you have seen among Vietnamese IPOs? How are these different from other markets in Asia/Southeast Asia?

In my view, the Government of Vietnam is more than ever expected to get money to cover its huge investment and regular payment expenses. This would serve as a key engine for a new waive of equitisiation of large State owned enterprises, especially after the successful placement of Sabeco’s shares.
In a short term, the cash flow may come to portfolio of SCIC’s list including major manufacturing companies but, in a long run, we may expect a come-back of banks, retails and real estate’s shares.
In terms of capital sources, we can expect a cash flow coming from major Asian economies such as Japan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and especially mainland China which increases their strong presence in the market.
When it comes to how the IPO market of Vietnam may differ from the rest of Asia/Southeast Asia, we strongly believe that the equitisation of SOEs of a larger scale and with a strong determination from the top would play a key role in driving the market.

4. What industries are seeing the most activity – and can expect to see the most activity going forward? Why?

Financial (with major focus on real estate) sector, banking, consumption services and power sectors have been and will see further significant growth. The reason is in Q2/2018, many enterprises with large capitalization and of great interest to foreign investors in these sectors are now preparing for the public listing.

5. What are your predictions for the Vietnam IPO market in the immediate future?

The Vietnam IPO market will continue the growth. Leading enterprises with good financial capacity and high growth in the sectors will attract both foreign and domestic investment. It is noted that in 2018, there will be a number of state-owned enterprises privatized under the Prime Minister’s decision. These enterprises include Habeco, Vinamilk, etc. which is believed to be successfully privatized following the recent success of Sabeco, another state-owned enterprise in the beverage sector under the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s management.

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Please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com or any 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 of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

LAWYER IN VIETNAM DR. OLIVER MASSMANN – E-COMMERCE – THE WORLD BANK IS ASKING DUANE MORRIS VIETNAM ON THE LOGISTICS FOR E-COMMERCE – HERE ARE OUR ANSWERS:

ONLINE PAYMENTS
1. Which types of online payment solutions are available in your country?
Digital wallets[1], Internet Payment service providers[2] (IPSPs, also called as aggregated account or the third‐party biller), and Payment service providers[3] (PSPs).

2. What services do most Payment service providers (PSPs) offer in your country?
Opening merchant accounts[4], or providing access to aggregated accounts, at the acquiring bank, Transact multiple payment methods, and Security services, such as risk management.

3. What categories of PSPs are available to provide digital payment services in your country?
Retail PSP[5], Micropayment PSP[6], Government PSP[7] and Non‐issuing PSP[8].

4. What are the main laws and regulations that establish how PSPs are regulated and supervised in your country?
Law on State Bank of Vietnam 2010, Law on Credit Institutions 2010, Decree No. 101/2012/ND‐CP on non‐cash payment as amended, Circular No. 39/2014/TT‐NHNN guiding intermediary payment services as amended, Circular No. 46/2014/TT‐NHNN guiding non‐cash payment services.

5. How many business days does it take for PSPs to obtain a license to provide digital payment services?
60 days by law.

6. What is the main authority in charge of issuing licenses and supervising PSPs in your country?
The State Bank of Vietnam

7. According to the law, how long (in years) is the PSP license valid in your country?
10 years (Article 16.3 of Decree No. 101/2012/ND‐CP)

8. Which of the following documents are required for the PSP license application?
Registration documents (including certificate of incorporation and the Articles of Association); The business model, specifically outlining the type of digital payment services and payment instruments envisaged; Evidence that the PSP applicant holds the minimum initial capital required; A certified copy of the bank guarantee on the initial capital; A description of the measures implemented to ensure adequate levels of operational reliability, including disaster recovery and business continuity mechanisms; A description of how the PSP Applicant will settle payment transactions accompanied by a certified copy of the agreement with a settlement bank or a designated payment system; A copy of the system rulebook, detailing the operational rules of the envisaged payment scheme; A risk management system; A report of a feasibility and risk assessment study; An internal control system; and An outsourcing agreement if any.

9. According to the law, do PSPs have to meet the requirement of minimum initial capital at the time of authorization?
Yes. USD2.2 million (Article 15.2(c) of Decree No. 101/2012/ND‐CP).

10. According to the law, do PSPs have to establish at least one separate account with commercial banks to safeguard User Funds[9]? What are required for PSPs when managing the separate account(s)?
They must ensure all received funds are placed in a ring‐fenced account at commercial bank exclusively dedicated for this purpose as approved by the Central Bank; Ensure that the account balance is not at any time be less than the outstanding balance owed to Users; Not use the Funds to engage in any lending activity, including (but not limited to) the provision of credit and overdraft facilities; Not invest User Funds in any type of financial asset; and Not transfer User Funds to another account used for other business activities.

11. According to the law, do PSPs have to hold and account User Funds separately from any other funds they hold for other business purposes?
Yes. (Article 8.2 of Circular No. 39/2014/TT‐NHNN).

12. According to the law, do PSPs have to ensure that User Funds are covered by an insurance policy or a guarantee from a credit institution?
No.

13. According to the law, do PSPs have to seek for approval from the related authority before they intend to outsource any operational functions?
They cannot outsource the licensed activities (Article 6.2 of Circular No. 39/2014/TT‐NHNN).

14. According to the law, do PSPs, their agents and users have to comply with Anti‐Money Laundering and Combating of Financing of Terrorism (AML/FT) law, standards and measures?
Yes. (Article 7 of Circular No. 39/2014/TT‐NHNN).

15. According to the law, which of the following documents that PSPs/agents require when performing customer due diligence processes?
For any natural person users: An original copy of a valid ID card/passport
For any legal person users: Investment/ Enterprise registration certificate; and Copy of passports of authorized signatories.

16. According to the law, are PSPs allowed to charge users for registration?
Yes. (Articles 10‐13 of Circular No.39/2014/TT‐NHNN).

17. According to the law, do PSPs have a monthly load limit for Electronics Inc.[10] through an issued payment instrument in your country?
No.

18. According to the law, do PSPs have a single payment transaction limit for Electronics Inc. through an issued payment instrument in your country?
No.

19. What information is required for PSPs to disclose to Electronics Inc. upon the execution of a payment transaction?
A unique reference number enabling the payer/payee to identify the payment transaction; The payment transaction amount; The identity of the payer/payee; and The date on which the payment order was placed.

20. What are the main laws and regulations that govern the payment and settlement system in the country?
Decree No. 101/2012/ND‐CP, Circular No. 39/2014/TT‐NHNN, Circular No. 46/2014/TT‐NHNN.

21. Does the PSP require additional information from Electronics Inc. for cross border payment transactions?
Yes. The information include Additional identity confirmation and Detailed transaction purpose.

22. Does Electronics Inc. have to pay additional service fees to the PSP for cross border e‐commerce transactions?
Yes. The fees include Currency conversion fee and International transaction fee.

23. Based on the pricing model above, how much transaction fee does Electronics Inc. have to pay on a $20 transaction to the PSP in your country?
Domestic e‐commerce: Below $0.05 USD dollar
Cross border e‐commerce: $0.05 ‐ $0.10 USD dollar

24. What are the main laws and regulations about online payment authentication standards in your country?
Law on Internet information security 2015, Law on Information Technology 2006, Law on E-transactions 2005, Circular No. 35/2015/TT‐NHNN, Circular No. 47/2014/TT‐NHNN.

25. According to the law, do PSPs have to provide two‐factor authentication using standards like 3D Secure?
Yes.

26. According to the law, do PSPs and users (like Electronics Inc.) have to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)?
Yes. (Section 2, Point 3.1.3, Decision No. 488/QD‐NHNN).

27. According to the law, do PSPs and users (like Electronics Inc.) have to install Transport Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) on webpage or internet browser?
Yes. (Article 15 of Circular No. 47/2014/TT‐NHNN).

28. According to the law, how long (in years) does PSPs have to store and retain all user and transaction data from that of the original transaction?
20 years (Article 9.1(a) of Regulation attached to Decision No. 376/2003/QD‐NHNN).

29. According to the law, how long (in years) does a PSP have to store all details data of users’ personal information after the user relationship is terminated?
20 years from the original transaction, not depending on the relationship termination

30. According to the law, PSPs should keep user identification data and transaction records confidential and can only be made available to?
The corresponding User, the State Bank of Vietnam, or By a court order in the country.

31. What are the main laws that regulate chargebacks regarding online payments in your country?
The Civil Code of Vietnam, Circular No. 39/2014/TT‐NHNN.

32. The legal framework on chargebacks apply to:
Fraudulent transactions, Credit and service not processed; and An error in the amount.

33. According to the law, do banks hold initial amount to cover prospected chargebacks?
No.

34. Is there a legal time limit for Electronics Inc. to notify the PSP of any unauthorized/incorrectly executed payment transaction?
No.

35. After a successful dispute, how many business days it usually takes for customers to get a full chargeback of the original form of payment or an Electronics Inc. gift card?
3-10 days.

36. Do PSPs set a maximum predetermined threshold of monthly chargeback rate for Electronics Inc.?
No.

DIGITAL MARKETS
1. Are merchants selling goods through Electronics Inc. legally mandated to comply with a legal framework on online consumer protection? (i.e. is there an online consumer protection law in your country?)
Yes. Law No. 59/2010/QH12 on Consumer Protection.’

2. Are merchants selling goods through Electronics Inc. (i.e. engaged in distance or off‐premises selling) legally mandated to comply with online information disclosure rules?
Yes.

3. What information are merchants on Electronics Inc. legally mandated to disclose to consumers prior their online purchase?
Full business address of the merchant (i.e. geographical address); Identity of the merchant (i.e. trading name, phone number, fax number, email address, etc.); Product information (availability, price, description, etc.); Delivery information (time, price, etc.); Information about payment processes; Information about the existence of a right of withdrawal (or cancellation); Information about complaint handling; Information about the party bearing the cost of returning the goods in case of cancellation; Information on out‐of‐court complaint and redress mechanism; Information on product guarantee, rights and obligations of the merchants and customers in each transaction.

4. Are online information disclosure rules specified above applicable to mobile devices?
Yes.

5. Considering a domestic merchant selling a computer charger on Electronics Inc.’s platform, he is legally mandated to comply with the following general rules related to the right of withdrawal (or cancellation) for online purchases:
Information duty: Electronics Inc. must inform the customer of his right of withdrawal
Absence of reason: Electronics Inc.’s customer can withdraw from contract with no reason
Withdrawal period: Electronics Inc.’s customer can withdraw from contract after receiving the product

6. What is the period (in number of days) during which the customer of Electronics Inc. can withdraw (cancel) its purchase without any penalties and without giving any reason (also called cooling‐off period), if applicable?
It depends on policy of each merchant.

7. In case of a dispute between a domestic customer and a domestic merchant on Electronics Inc. for a low value sale (less than 30USD), what types of procedures are legally available for the domestic consumer acting individually?
Use of the general judicial system for addressing online disputes; Use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism such as consultations, conciliation, or mediation; and Other provision for a dispute resolution mechanism (e.g. administrative procedures before a specific authority).

8. Are merchants on Electronics Inc. legally mandated to comply with redress rules for online purchase of goods?
Yes.

9. What types of remedy are legally enforced for online purchase of goods?
Monetary remedy: monetary payment
Non‐monetary remedy: repair, replacement

10. Is Electronics Inc, an e‐commerce platform, considered as an internet intermediary in your jurisdiction?
No.

11. Bearing in mind that it processes data such as name, surname, data of birth, email address, mail address, credit card information, preferences of its customers, does Electronics Inc., an e‐commerce platform, have to comply with a legal or regulatory framework on data privacy?
Yes. Decree No. 52/2013/ND‐CP.

12. Bearing in mind that Electronics Inc. is managing the data it collects, does it have to process differently non‐sensitive and sensitive personal data?
Yes.

13. What categories of personal data are considered sensitive in Electronics Inc.’s jurisdiction?
Political opinions, Sex life, Sexual orientation.

14. Under which conditions can Electronics Inc. lawfully process computerized personal data of its adult customers (also called data subject)?
The customer has given consent to the processing of his personal data for one or more specific purposes;
Processing is necessary for the performance of a contract to which the customer is party;
Processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which Electronics Inc. is subject.

15. Regarding consent, what are the legal grounds on which Electronics Inc. can lawfully get its customer’s consent (the customer is an adult) when collecting (non‐sensitive, if applicable) personal data:
Consent must be freely given
Consent must be specific
Consent must be informed
Consent must be non‐ambiguous
Consent must be distinguishable from (or tied to) other matters
Consent must be obtained by a specific method.

16. Regarding data access, if a customer (an adult) requests Electronics Inc. information on the processing of his personal data and is ready to bear the cost of it, to what degree is Electronics Inc. obliged to provide it?
The customer can access all his personal data with no condition

17. Regarding data deletion (or erasure), if a customer (an adult) requests the deletion of his personal data to Electronics Inc., to what degree is the latter obliged to comply?
All personal data must be deleted (or erased) under certain conditions; and Electronics Inc. can apply suitable measures to protect the data or inform the customer that the request cannot be processed due to a technical reason or any other reasons.

18. Is Electronics Inc. required to establish a procedure for the deletion of personal data if requested by a customer (an adult)?
Yes.

19. To what degree is Electronics Inc. allowed to transfer personal data of local customers (also local citizens) to non‐domestic third parties?
Totally free with certain countries but subject to certain conditions.

20. What are the general conditions under which Electronics Inc. can engage in cross‐border data trade with a nondomestic third party? (general conditions exclude specific conditions such as model contract clauses, binding corporate rules or other contractual arrangements.)
Adequacy approach: The country in which a non‐domestic third party is based has an “adequate level of protection”, “an equivalent protection”, “a sufficient level of protection”, or any provision entailing an adequacy approach.

21. What circumstances constitute an “adequate level of protection” when trading personal data with a third‐party country?
the nature of the personal data, the country of final destination of that information, the law in force in the country in question, the international obligations of that country, any relevant codes of conduct or other rules which are enforceable in that country; any security measures taken in respect of the data in that country.

22. Bearing in mind that Electronics Inc. is considered as a data controller, does Electronics Inc. have to comply with any of the following security requirements for automated (computerized) personal data?

Adoption of an internal policy for establishing procedures for preventing and detecting violations; Performance of internal controls; Assessment of the harm that might be caused by a data breach; Awareness program among employees.

23. Bearing in mind that Electronics Inc. processes personal data for marketing purposes, is it monitored by a supervisory authority?
No.

24. Does Electronics Inc. have to comply with the following administrative procedures with the supervisory authority to lawfully process personal data for marketing purposes?
There is no administrative procedures to process personal data for marketing purposes.

25. Given that Language Inc.[11] and free‐lance instructors[12], based abroad, sign a local contract (Language Inc. is based in your country), what are the types of e‐signature granting the same legal status as handwritten contracts?
E‐signature (click wrap, digitized signature, etc.)
Digital signature (need for a public key)

26. Does Language Inc. need to comply with any requirements on the use of a specific technology (e.g. PKI) for a digital signature to have legal validity?
Yes. PKI.

27. On the contrary, is any form of digital signature including the following requirements equally acceptable?
The digital signature helps verify the identity of the signatory (origin).

28. Does the use of a specific technology (e.g. PKI) grant additional legal benefits in terms of the legal recognition of the digital signature (e.g. validity in terms of burden of proof)?
No.

29. Does Language Inc.’s signature need to be certified by a Certification Authority (CA) in order to be recognized as having full legal validity?
Yes.

30. Do certification authorities (CAs) need a license to operate?
Yes. The conditions include: (1) Being enterprises established under the laws of Vietnam; (2) Having sufficient financial capacity to establish a system of technical equipment, organization, and maintenance of activities in accordance with the scale of service provision; (3) Depositing at a commercial bank operating in Vietnam or having a guarantee of a commercial bank operating in Vietnam of not less than 5 (five) billion VND, or insurance buying commitments to solve risks and the compensation that may occur during the course of service provision and make payment for expenses receiving and maintaining database of enterprises in the event of withdrawal of licenses; (4) Having team of technical staffs, managers, administration staffs, security managers and customer service personnel meeting professional requirements and scale of services deployment of having no criminal records; (5) The legal representative having knowledge of law on digital signatures and certification service of digital signatures; (6) Suitable formulation of technical equipment system; (7) Having feasible technical plans and business plans, consistent with the technical regulations and mandatory standards to apply; (8) Having plans to control the entrance and exit of head offices, the right to access the system, right to enter, exit the place where the equipment is located for providing for certification service of digital signatures; (9) Having contingency plans to maintain the continuous, safe operation, and overcome when the problem occurs; (10) The entire system of equipment used to service providers is located in Vietnam; (11) Construction of offices, places where the machinery and equipment is located in accordance with the requirements of the law on prevention and combat of fire and explosion; having ability of fighting against floods, earthquakes, electromagnetic interference, illegal intrusion of man; and (12) Having public certification regulations in the form issued by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, and contents in accordance with relevant laws.

31. How many CAs are available in your jurisdiction?
6-10 CAs.

32. Please list the most popular Certification Authorities available in your city:
1: VNPT‐CA 2: CA2‐CA 3: Viettel ‐CA

33. What is the average time and cost for Language Inc. to obtain a digital signature from a certification authority (if applicable)?
5‐10 days; USD50‐210 per 15-month package

34. Does your country have a national VAT/GST scheme applying to imported services bought on the internet?
Yes.

35. If applicable, is there a registration process for VAT/GST purposes for foreign‐based companies (like tutors) selling through Language Inc.?
Yes. There is no threshold under which foreign‐based companies do not need to register.

BROADBAND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

1. Does your country have a national broadband plan or policy to develop a high-speed access network?
Vietnam has a national broadband plan in 2016 under Decision No. 149/QD-TTg of the Prime Minister dated 21 January 2016 approving the program on the development of broadband telecommunications infrastructure through 2020

2. What is the main body responsible for planning implementing the national broadband plan
Ministry of Information and Communications is the main body to plan and implement the national broadband.

3. Does the plan include blended finance or PPP investment schemes for broadband expansion?
We are not aware of the plan includes blend finance or PPP investment schemes or applicable financial instruments.

4. Does the plan include government investment in infrastructure to make broadband more broadly available?
The Government focus to investment in the following area:
First Mile: international gateways or the segment of a telecommunications network where the internet enters a country such as through cable landing stations or satellite links
Middle Mile: national backbone networks, or the segment of a telecommunications network linking a network operator’s core network to the local network plant

5. Does the plan include investments in cross border links and networks?
The plan under WTO’s Commitment include investments in cross border links. There are agreements in effect or in preparation with other countries to foster cooperation or joint investment for cross border.

6. Does the plan or policy include new internet exchange points (IXPs)?
We do not see any updates related to internet exchange points in the policy

7. Does the plan have a universal service fund (USF)
Yes. Vietnam has a universal service fund at http://www.vnpt.vn and there is implicit funding arrangement for USF

8. Are there fiscal incentives to accelerate internet deployment?
Now there are not fiscal investment to accelerate internet deployment.

9. Does Vietnam have a unified licensing regime?
Yes. WTO’s Commitment, Law on Investment 2014

10. Does Vietnam have a policy for releasing more licensed spectrum?
Yes. Circular 46/2016/TT-BTTTT on list of license-exempt radio serves and accompanying technical and operational conditions.

11. Does Vietnam assign spectrum on the basis of competitive auctions?
Yes. The spectrum auction winner are primarily evaluated on speed of build out, technology and quality of spectrum.


12. Does Vietnam have policies and regulations that allow the following practices for spectrum allocation?

Yes. Vietnam has spectrum shortage evaluations and spectrum caps.

13. What is the duration of the spectrum license?
15 years

14. Is there equal access to shared and/or government owner infrastructure such as road, railways, water and power lines?
No.

15. According to the law, does Vietnam require its cable operators to provide open access for internet services?
No.

16. Does your country have unbundling and line sharing rules?
No.

17. What restriction, if any, are placed on the level of foreign ownership of foreign telecom operators?
We see the minimum level of local ownership mandated.

18. Are there regulations regarding portability or preventing customer lock-in
No.

19. Does your country’s national broadband plan or policy set performance targets?
Vietnam has the national broadband plan with minimum download speed 22.77 mbps and minimum upload speed 22.28 mbps.

20. Does Vietnam’s national broadband plan or policy allow different access technologies?
Yes

21. Are there backward compatibility requirements with legacy infrastructure?
Yes

22. Does Vietnam’s national broadband plan or policy set date localizations requirements
Yes

23. Are there spectrum harmonization efforts in the national broadband strategies?
No.

24. Does Vietnam’s national broadband plan set coverage targets?
Yes. The plan includes population with broadband with 40% of the population, schools with broadband with 99% of schools and e-government with 100% national information portal, government portal.

25. Are peak usage charges allowed
No.

26. Are there fiscal incentives to increase access to broadband?
Yes. Incentives in rural broadband subsidies

27. Does Vietnam’s broadband plan or program include the rollout of free, public access points?
Enterprise Registration Certificate
ID Card or Passport of the legal representative
Contract Service with the broadband provide

28. What documents are needed in order to secure a business broadband connection?
Enterprise Registration Certificate
ID Card or Passport of the legal representative
Contract Service with the broadband provide

29. Please list what Broadband Access Providers are available to connection in Vietnam?
VNPT, Viettel, FPT

***
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!