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Lawyer in Vietnam Dr. Oliver Massmann WORLD BANK/IFC IS UPGRADING VIETNAM ON OECD INVESTOR PROTECTION RULES, SECURITIES LAWS AND ACCOUNTING STANDARDS

The Law on Enterprise in 1999 introduced the first legal framework on corporate governance in Vietnam. Since then, a number of other legal regulations have been issued, including the Law on Securities in 2006, the Corporate Governance Code in 2007, as amended in 2012, and Disclosure Rules in 2012, 2015 (for listed companies). Most recently, Law on Enterprise 2014, Decree No.71/2017/ND-CP providing guidelines on corporate governance of public companies and Circular 95/2017/TT-BTC, issued in order to further improve the legal framework for corporate governance and requirements on disclosure of information and transparency of securities markets to satisfy requirements for the development of capital markets and international integration. New Securities Law are expected to be submitted and discussed in the National Assembly of Vietnam at 6th Session, XIV by October 2018.
We outline below certain key progress and upcoming changes in corporate governance and accounting rules of Vietnam:
Corporate Governance encouraging investments
Good corporate governance reduces emerging market such as Vietnam vulnerability to financial crises, protects property rights, reduces transaction costs and the cost of capital, and promotes capital market development. Other words, weak corporate governance reduces investor confidence and discourages outside investment.
I. 2016, International Finance Corporation (IFC) published a research named Corporate Governance Success Stories in Vietnam, which expressly praised Vietnam’s improvements on corporate governance. Based on the latest corporate governance assessment conducted by Asian Development Bank in 2013, the corporate governance score for Vietnam in 2013 has risen 19.2%, compared to that scored in 2012.
I. confirmed its ongoing effort to raise greater awareness of merits of corporate governance through several programs working and coordinating with Ministry of Finance of Vietnam, State Securities Commission of Vietnam (“SSC”) and other state authorities to improve corporate governance (especially for public companies) in Vietnam.
New Decree 71 and Circular 95 continuously promoting good Corporate Governance for Public Companies
On 6 June 2017, the Government issued Decree No. 71/2017/ND-CP providing guidelines on corporate governance applicable to public companies (“Decree 71”). Decree 71 became effective on 1 August 2017 and replaced Circular No. 121/2012/TT-BTC issued by the Ministry of Finance on 26 July 2012 (“Circular 121”).
On 22 September 2017, the Ministry of Finance issued Circular No. 95/2017/TT-BTC (“Circular 95”) guiding the implementation of some articles of Decree 71 on corporate administration of public companies.
We highlight the key provisions of Decree 71 as follows:
1. it clarifies and provides detail restriction on intercompany loans and guarantees from the public company to the company’s shareholders and shareholders’ related persons;
2. it provides 2 options for organization of the public companies: (x) General Meeting of Shareholders, Board of Management, Board of Controllers, and General Directors, or (y) General Meeting of Shareholders, Board of Management and General Directors;
3. it provides new conditions and qualification of an independent member of the Board of Management;
4. it provides stricter qualifications and conditions to prevent conflict of interest in public companies such as (x) chairman of Board of Management cannot be the General Director (effective 1 August 2020), (y) members of Board of Management of a public company cannot be member of board of management of more than other 5 companies (effective 1 August 2019), and (z) transactions between a public company and its controllers, any management personnel and their related persons to be approved by the General Meeting of Shareholders or the Board of Management;
5. it provides more detail disclosure requirements: for example, salary of general director and other management members are required to be separately stated on annual financial statements of the company and reported to the General Meetings of Shareholders at the annual meeting; and
6. it and Circular 95 provide a new template of charter for public companies. It is not expressly compulsory for public companies to use the sample charter or the sample internal regulations but they are encouraged to use them for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the corporate governance requirements provided for under Decree 71, the Law on Securities and the Law on Enterprises.
Draft New Securities Law on Restructuring Securities Market
On 11 January 2017, the Ministry of Finance of Vietnam published a draft new Securities Law for collecting public opinions and comments (“Draft Law”). The Draft Law is expected to be finalized, submitted and discussed in the National Assembly of Vietnam at 6th Session, NA XIV by October 2018.
The Draft Law aims at (i) creating more efficient framework for regulating securities and securities market, (ii) developing Vietnamese securities market in line with international regulations, practice and norms in order to promote Vietnam’s securities market from a frontier to an emerging market, and (iii) diversifying securities products and reforming procedures for attracting investors.
We highlight the key changes of the new Draft Law as follows:
1. Increasing powers for State Securities Commission of Vietnam to effectively govern the securities market and address promptly the wrongdoings: for example, SSC will be authorized to require persons to provide information / documents in relation to wrongdoings; require the credit institutions to provide relevant information about transactions made via banks; and summon the relevant parties to meet and work with the SSC;
2. Enabling more qualified goods to be available for the securities market: for example, qualifications for determining public companies will be improved to target medium and large size enterprises (not including small size enterprises), more securities products such as derivatives will be available for trading in the securities market, OTC regulations will be adopted, etc.;
3. Restructuring the securities market: for example, Hanoi Securities Stock Exchange and Ho Chi Minh Securities Stock Exchange will be merged to establish the national securities stock exchange in the form of a single member state-owned limited liability company to control and regulate the whole national securities market;
4. Restructuring the Vietnam Securities Depository: for example, increasing the powers and activities of Vietnam Securities Depository such as registration of securities offsetting, mortgage and pledge, etc.;
5. Revising current policy to attract foreign investments in securities market: for example, removing restriction of maximum ratio of 49% foreign invested capital applicable to conditional sectors (not committed under WTO services schedule of Vietnam); and
6. Improving the quality and time of information disclosure obligations, increasing the transparency of the securities market.
Notable comments on Vietnam’s adoption of international accounting rules
Currently, 93 per cent (133 of 143 jurisdictions) around the world have publicly confirmed International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) adoption and implementation, and 83 per cent (119 of 143 jurisdictions) require all or most domestic public companies to comply with IFRS. Adopting IFRS standards in a comprehensive way often takes 5 to 10 years depending on the conditions and ability of each country.
Vietnamese Ministry of Finance representative reported the latest changes in accounting standards as contained in Circular 200/2014/TT-BTC (as amended), which was mostly up-to-date, practical and in increased accordance with international standards.
Regarding the roadmap for Vietnam, it is planned by the state authorities that during 2018 – 2020, 10 to 20 simple IFRS standards will be selected to be put into practice, and officially applied for all the firms listed on the stock market from 2020.
All other businesses that have sufficient conditions and wish to apply IFRS are also encouraged to. But from 2023 to 2025, all firms within the country will have to complete their conversion process.
Conclusion
Although corporate governance in Vietnam has made a certain progress, however, it remains lower than the good regional and international standards and practices. We strongly believe that our long-term cooperation and coordination with international organizations and State authorities on reforming and developing corporate governance and other investment and compliance rules will help investors to understand and plan properly their strategy in Vietnam’s securities market.
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Please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann and Tran Minh Thanh 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 and Tran Minh Thanh is Vietnamese lawyer of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.
THANK YOU !

Lawyer in Vietnam Dr. Oliver Massmann THE WORLD BANK IS ASKING DUANE MORRIS ON GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC PROCUREMENT HERE ARE OUR ANSWERS:

Applicable Legal Framework and Reforms Update
1. Which is the entity that conducts procurement for the authority that owns the majority of roads in Vietnam ?
The Ministry of Transport
2. Are you aware of any change (in practice or in laws/regulations/procedures) related to public procurement between June 1, 2017 and May 1, 2018? For example: amendments to applicable public procurement laws, enactment and/or implementation of new regulations, implementation or improvement of e-procurement platforms, changes to the bid security and performance guarantee framework, etc.
Yes. Law on supporting small and medium enterprise issued by the National Assembly on 12 June 2017, taking effect from 01 January 2018
3. Please provide a list of the laws, regulations and other binding materials (including mandatory standard procurement documents and contracts) that regulate public procurement in Vietnam. Please include legislation or other binding materials promulgated at the national/federal level as well as any additional legislation that is applicable to the procuring entity described in Section 1.
The Civil Code of Vietnam No. 91/2015/QH13 by the National Assembly of Vietnam dated 24 November 2015 (“Civil Code”);
Construction Law No. 50/2014/QH13 by the National Assembly dated 18 June 2014 (“Construction Law”);
Law on Bidding No. 43/2013/QH13 by National Assembly dated 26 November 2013 (“Bidding Law”);
Law on Public Investment No. 49/2014/QH13 of the National Assembly dated 18 June 2014 (“Law on Public Investment”);
Commercial Law No. 36/2005/Qh11 by the National Assembly dated 14 June 2005 (“Commercial Law”);
Decree No. 63/2014/ND-CP by the Government dated 26 June 2014 guiding Law on Bidding (“Decree No. 63/2014/ND-CP”);
Decree No. 37/2015/ND-CP by the Government dated 22 April 2015 on detailing construction contracts (“Decree No. 37/2015/ND-CP”);
Decree No. 46/2015/ND-CP by the Government dated on 12 May 2015 on managing the quality and maintenance of construction works (“Decree No. 46/2015/ND-CP”);
Decree No. 30/2015/ND-CP by the Government dated 17 March 2015 on detailing certain provisions of the Law on Bidding on selection of bidders (“Decree No. 30/2015/ND-CP”);
Decree No. 15/2015/ND-CP by the Government dated 14 February 2015 on public-private partnership investment (“Decree No. 15/2015/ND-CP”);
Circular No. 04/2017/TT-BKHDT by the Ministry of Planning and Investment dated 15 November 2017 on detailing the selection of bidders via the national biding portal (“Circular No. 04/2017/TT-BKHDT”);
Circular No. 26/2016/TT-BXD by the Ministry of Construction dated 26 October 2016 on detailing certain provisions on management of quality and maintenance of construction works (“Circular No. 26/2016/TT-BXD”);
Circular No. 10/2016/TT-BKHDT of the Ministry of Planning and Investment on detailing the supervision, following up and examination of bidding activities (“Circular No. 10/2016/TT-BKHDT”);
– Circular No. 23/2015/TT_BKHDT by the Ministry of Planning and Investment dated 21 December 2015 on detailing the making the evaluation report on bidding documents (“Circular No. 23/2015/TT-BKHDDT”);
– Circular No. 10/2015/TT-BKHDT of the Ministry of Planning and Investment dated 26 October 2015 on detailing the plan for bidder selection (“Circular No. 10/2015/TT-BKHDT”);
– Circular No. 01/2015/TT-BKHDT by the Ministry of Planning and Investment dated 14 February 2015 on detailing the preparation of Invitation dossier for Concern, Invitation Dossier for Bidding, and Request dossider for consultancy services (“Circular No. 01/2015/TT-BKHDT”);
– Circular No. 17/2010/TT-BKH by the Ministry of Planning and Investment dated 22 July 2010 detailing a pilot online bidding program (“Circular No. 17/2010/TT-BKH”);
– Official Letter No. 5356/BKHDT-QLDT by the Ministry of Planning and Investment dated 18 August 2014 on registration of bidder’s information on national bidding network system;
– Official Letter No. 4962/BKHDT-QLDT by the Ministry of Planning and Investment dated 31 July 2014 on the implementation of Law on Bidding No. 43/2013/QH13 regarding investors selection;
– Official Letter No. 4054/BKHDT-QLDT by the Ministry of Planning and Investment dated 7 June 2014 on implementation of Law on Bidding No. 43/2013/QH13 and Decree No. 63/2014/ND-CP;
– Official Letter No. 5186/BKHDT-QLDT by the Ministry of Planning and Investment dated 11 August 2014 guiding to carry out to provide and publish bidding information in the transitional period.
E-procurement Platforms
4. If one or several electronic procurement portal(s) (i.e., an official website(s) specifically and exclusively dedicated to public procurement) are in operation in Vietnam, please mark at which level such portals are available.
National level – Link: www.muasamcong.mpi.gov.vn
5. If multiple electronic procurement platforms are available, which one would most likely be used for a tender like the one describled in Sections 1?
6. If a procurement portal is used by the procuring entity, how many works contracts are procured through the portal?
Less than 25%
7. If electronic procurement portals are available, please indicate which of the following actions can be performed through each portal:
Accessing notices on procurement opportunities: Procuring entity and bidders
Accessing tender documentation: Procuring entity and bidders
Accessing tender documentation: Procuring entity and bidders
Asking the procuring entity for clarifications: Bidders
Submitting tenders: Bidders
Submitting bid security: Bidders
Opening bids: Procuring entity
Notifying decisions (clarification, award,etc.): Procuring entity
Accessing award decisions: Procuring entity and bidders
Accessing explanations of award decisions: Procuring entity and bidders
Submitting performance guarantees: Bidders
Signing the contract: Procuring entity and bidders
Phases of the Procurement Process
The rest of this questionnaire follows the chronological evolution of a procurement cycle, starting with the process the procuring entity undertakes to assess its needs and secure the budget. The questionnaire then explores the steps that a local company would have to undertake in order to: (i) secure a government contract; (ii) deliver the agreed-upon works; and (iii) obtain payment. The following section focuses on planning and budget.
Phase 1: Budgeting and Needs Assessment
For the definition of “procuring entity”, please refer to Section 1.
8. When the procuring entity prepares to advertise a new procurement opportunity, does it estimate the contract value?
Yes. Article 35 of the Bidding Law
a. How is the contract value estimated for the case like the one described in Section 1:
It is determined based on the total invested capital or estimated budget (if any) for project. All expenses are included, including reserve expenses, charges, fees and taxes.
b. Who prepares these estimates?
The procuring entity or the investor of the project
c. Is the estimated contract value published in the tender notice / tender documents?
Yes. Article 35 of the Bidding Law
9. Is the procuring entity required to have already allocated budget to a specific project before tendering?
Yes. Article 35 of the Bidding Law
Phase 2: from Advertisement to Bid Submission
The following questions relate to the initial phase of the procurement process, focusing on how the procurement method is chosen, how the tender is published, and how bids are collected from the private sector. For the definition of “procuring entity”, please refer to Section 1.
Procurement Method
10. According to the legal framework, would open tendering (i.e., the process in which any business can submit a bid) be the default method of procurement in Vietnam for a contract like the one described in Section 1?
No, Section 1, Chapter 2 of the Bidding Law
11. In practice, what is the most common method of procurement for a contract like the one described in Section 1?
Open tendering is not the default, but remains the most common for a case comparable to the case study.
12. Does the legal framework define the situations in which open tendering must be used (including thresholds)? If the legal framework regulates exceptions to open tendering, please list them.
Yes. Article 20 of the Bidding Law. Exceptions to open tendering are cases under restrictive tendering, direct award, competitive dialogue, direct procurement, self implementation, community’s and participation selection of bidders in some special cases (Articles 21¬27 of the Bidding Law)
13. Does the legal framework prohibit dividing contracts to circumvent thresholds for open tendering?
Yes. Article 89.6 (k) of the Bidding Law
a. In practice, how often does this happen?
Very rarely (< 10% of cases)
14. What are the commonly used strategies to circumvent the rules and thresholds on open procurement?
The procuring entity sets out very high technical specifications
15. Which of the following materials need to be made publicly available by the procuring entity?
By law and Publicly available in practice
Procurement plans: Article 8.1 of the Bidding Law
Tender notices: Article 8.1 of the Bidding Law
Tender documents and technical specifications: Article 8.1 of the Bidding Law
Notices of award / bidding results: Article 8.1 of the Bidding Law
16. Where are the above materials published?
Internet – Link: http://muasamcong.mpi.gov.vn/
Newspapers
Other: websites of ministries, local sectors, provinces or other public mass media
Tender Notices & Tender Documents
17. According to the legal framework, is there a minimum time limit between the advertisement of the tender notice and the submission deadline for an open tendering procedure like the one described in Section 1?
Yes. Article 12.1 of the Bidding Law
a. In practice, how many days would pass between the advertisement of the tender notice and the submission deadline for a case like the one described in Section 1?
30 -40 days
18. Does the legal framework establish the minimum content of the tender notice and tender documents? If "Yes", please list the requirements.
Yes. Articles 218- 219 of the Commercial Law. The tender notice must include: a/ Name and address of the procuring entity; b/ Brief description of bidding contents; c/ Time limit, place and procedures for receipt of bid documents; d/ Time limit, place and procedures for submission of bid documents; e/ Guidance on seeking clarification of the tender documents.
Tender documents must include: a/ Tender notice; b/ Requirements on procuring goods or services; c/ Methods of evaluation, comparison, ranking and selection of bidders; d/ Other instructions related to bidding.
a. In practice, which of the following are NOT usually included in the tender notice and/or tender documents?
– Grounds for exclusion of bidders
– Main terms and conditions of the contract
– Payment schedule under the procurement contract
Subcontracting
19. Does the legal framework regulate subcontracting?
Yes. Article 128.2 of Decree No. 63/2014/ND-CP
20. According to the legal framework, is the procuring entity allowed to establish that a share of the contract must be performed by the original contractor and cannot be subcontracted? For example, 25% of the contract must be performed by the company that is awarded the bid.
Yes. There is no requirement on a specific share.
21. According to the legal framework, are bidders required to disclose their intent to subcontract portions of the contract when submitting their bid?
Yes. Article 4.36 of the Bidding Law, Article 128.2 (b) of Decree No. 63/2014/ND-CP
22. If the intent to subcontract was not disclosed in the bid, what is the contractor who decides to subcontract after the contract is signed required to do?
None of the above
23. Can the subcontractor be held liable by the procuring entity for low work quality? If the subcontractor can only be held liable in certain circumstances, please list them.
No. Article 128.2(a) of Decree No. 63/2014/ND-CP
Clarifications
24. When a potential bidder seeks clarifications on the tender documents from the procuring entity, what is the most common way of addressing them?
The procuring entity addresses all clarifications in a public meeting
The procuring entity will answer, and it is always required to communicate the answer to all other bidders too – Legal basis: Article 14.2 (c) of Decree No. 63/2014/ND-CP

25. In practice, are clarifications used as an opportunity to negotiate with the procuring entity?
No.
26. Does the legal framework prohibit informal meetings between the procuring entity and a bidder during the tendering process?
No. Article 89 of the Bidding Law
a. In practice, how often do these meetings happen?
Rarely (between 10-25%)
Bid Security
27. Does the legal framework require BidCo to provide a form of bid guarantee?
Yes. Article 11.1 of the Bidding Law
28. In practice, which instrument would BidCo most commonly use as a bid guarantee?
Bid security deposit – Please specify the amount: VND 55 million – VND 170 million
29. If BidCo is required, what is the most common instrument of bid security deposit?
Cash
Bank guarantee / letter of credit
Phase 3: from Bid Opening to Contract Signing
The following questions relate to bid opening, bid evaluation, exclusions and contract signing. When answering these questions, please continue to refer to the case study assumptions outlined in Section 1. For the definition of “procuring entity", please refer to Section 1.
Time (calendar days)
30. Does the legal framework establish a timeframe for the procuring entity to proceed to bid opening once the deadline for bid submission has been reached?
Yes. Article 14.3(b) of Decree No. 63/2014/ND-CP
a. In practice, does the procuring entity proceed to bid opening immediately (i.e., at the precise day and time of the deadline for bid submission)?
Yes.
b. If not immediately, how many calendar days after the deadline on average?
Time: Main reasons for delay
31. In practice, in a case comparable to the case study scenario, how many days would pass between bid opening and public notice of award (i.e., the moment in which all tenderers, participants and relevant parties are notified of the award decision), considering that no complaints/challenges/protests have been filed? In this estimate, please include the time to evaluate the bids, notify all bidders of the decision and notify the winner of the award. If there is no public notice, please indicate the time until notification of BidCo.
Time: 45 – 60 days. Main reasons for delay: The bidder selection result must be verified or there needs some amendments to the bidding dossiers/ documents.
32. Is there a standstill (or pause) period between public notice of award and contract signing to allow unsuccessful bidders to challenge the award decision?
Yes. Length: 10 days
33. In practice, in a case comparable to the case study scenario, how many days would pass on average between public notice of award and contract signing? Please include the time for the winner to submit relevant documents and the time to sign the contract.
Time: 20 – 25 days. Main reasons for delay
34. In practice, how many days would pass on average between contract signing and receipt of a notice to proceed with the works?
Time: 0 days or upon receipt of the performance security by the procuring entity.
Main reasons for delay: No receipt of the performance security
35. If works permits or other administrative authorizations are required to begin the works, how long does it take on average to obtain them once the contract has been signed? Please indicate “0 days" if the permits and authorizations are automatically granted to the contractor or not required.
Time: 0 days
Main reasons for delay
Evaluation & Award
36. Does the legal framework regulate how members of the selection committee are chosen?
Yes. Article 116, Decree No. 63/2014/ND-CP
37. Are employees of the procuring entity required to follow a mandatory code of conduct or ethics that includes topics like screening procedures, conflict of interest, training requirements, etc.?
No. Not mentioned in the laws
38. According to the legal framework, what would be the award criterion considering a case like the one described in Section 1?
Price – Legal basis: Article 39.1 of the Bidding Law
Price and other qualitative elements (i.e., best value for money or the most advantageous combination of cost, time to completion, quality and sustainability, or the most economically advantageous tender) – Legal basis: Article 39.2 of the Bidding Law
Other, please explain: Combination of technical and price assessment (Article 39.3 of the Bidding Law)
39. Does the legal framework require all non-price evaluation criteria to be objective and quantifiable?
No. Not mentioned in the laws
40. In practice, in which order would the selection (technical, financial, procedural, etc.) criteria and award criteria be evaluated in a tender like the one described in Section 1?
The company's compliance with the selection criteria is checked first (perhaps even during a pre-qualification procedure) and, only if satisfactory, the tender is evaluated based on the award criteria
41. In practice, how often is the award decision based solely on price and not on best value for money?
Rarely (between 10-25%)
42. In practice, how often do the tender documents contain an evaluation criteria granting preference to companies that have already worked with the procuring entity?
Very rarely (< 10% of cases)
43. In practice, how often is a bid disqualified solely because of an error/formality (for example, a missing document, formatting of the bidding documents, etc.)?
Rarely (between 10-25%)
44. In practice, in these cases would the bidder be given the opportunity to rectify such error before disqualification?
Yes. Article 14.3 (c) of Decree No. 63/2014/ND-CP
45. According to the legal framework, can the procuring entity unilaterally change some of the tendering requirements after the bid is opened, but before the contract is siqned? If "Yes", please specify under which conditions the procuring entity can do so.
No.
a. In practice, how often do such changes occur?

Very rarely (90%)
Exclusion
47. When a bidder is unsuccessful (either because of exclusion or loss), is it provided with an explanation of the reasons for the exclusion/loss in writing?
Yes, by law the bidder must always be provided with an explanation in writing – Legal basis and timeframe: Article 20.6 (b) of Decree No. 63/2014/ND-CP; within 5 workings days from the time the bidding result is approved.
a. If “Yes”, is the bidder usually told early enough so that it can challenge the exclusion/loss in a timely manner?
Yes
Phase 4: Contract Management
The following questions relate to performance guarantee, contract renegotiation, underperformance and termination. When answering these auestions, please continue to refer to the case study assumptions outlined in Section 1. For the definition of “procuring entity”, please refer to Section 1.
Performance Guarantee
48. According to the legal framework, is BidCo required to provide a performance guarantee deposit that ensures a source of compensation in case of failure to perform its contractual obligations?
Yes. Amount: 2%- 10% of the bid winning price.
Articles 66 & 72 of the Bidding Law.
49. If BidCo is required, what is the most common instrument of performance guarantee?
Certificate of deposit
Bank Guarantee / Letter of Credit
Payment retention until satisfactory completion of the contract
50. In practice, how long does it usually take for the procuring entity to return the performance guarantee in full once the certificate of completion of works is issued?
5-10 days
Contract Renegotiations / Amendments
51. Does the legal framework regulate contract renegotiation? If “Yes”, please indicate the relevant provisions.
Yes. Article 67 of the Bidding Law and Article 93 of Decree No. 63/2014/ND-CP
a. If “Yes”, what are the limits to renegotiate each of the aspects below without the need to re-tender?
– Price (for example because of initial underestimation of cost or poor project design): The price is only adjusted in case of contract based on fixed unit price, contract based on modifiable unit price and time-based contract.
– Scope (length, size, etc.): Size of the contract cannot be changed if the increase amount of work is due to the contractor’s subjective fault. Delivery timeline will only be adjusted in case of force majeure, change in scope of work, design, implementation method due to objective reasons, and hand over of ground.
– Technical specifications (materials, etc.): Change of subcontractor (if the subcontractor is not listed in the bididng documents) must be subject to the investor’s approval.
– Delivery timeline
– Contractor/subcontractor
52. How often would a contract like the one described in Section 1 be renegotiated?
Occasionally (between 25-50%)
53. If the contract described in Section 1 were more complex (i.e., lengthier and/or more costly execution, more complex scope or object, etc.), how often would it be renegotiated?
Often (between 50-90%)
54. How often do bidders submit unrealistically low bids to win the contract confident of having a possibility to renegotiate at a later stage?
Rarely (between 10-25%)
55. How often are “emergencies” used as an excuse to renegotiate?
Rarely (between 10-25%)
56. According to the legal framework, is there a percentage of price increase below which the procuring entity is not required to provide a reason for the renegotiation? If “Yes”, please provide the percentage and the relevant legal basis.
No.
57. According to the legal framework, is there a percentage of price increase above which the procuring entity is not allowed to renegotiate and is always required to re-tender? If”Yes”, please provide the percentage and the relevant legal basis.
No.
58. If limits on price renegotiation exist, do they apply to each renegotiation or to all renegotiations combined (for example, if the legal framework imposes that any increase in price shall not exceed 50%, will this limit apply to each modification if several successive modifications occur)?
All renegotiations. Article 67.4 of the Bidding Law
59. Are the results of contract renegotiations made publicly available?
No. Not addressed by law but practically No
60. In practice, what are the commonly used strategies to circumvent the renegotiation rules in the context of re-tendering?
61. Does the legal framework regulate unilateral termination of the contract by the procuring entity (i.e., the termination at will by the procuring entity, including for no reason)? If “Yes”, please indicate the relevant provisions.
Yes. Article 117.11 of Decree No. 63/2014/ND-CP; Article 428 of the Civil Code of Vietnam.
a. In practice, how often would the procuring entity unilaterally terminate the contract despite the contractor properly performing its contractual duties?
Very rarely (< 10% of cases)
62. How often would the contractor bring a case (in court or through alternative dispute resolution) against the procuring entity for damages resulting from unilateral termination not due to the contractor's default?
Very rarely (< 10% of cases)
Phase 5: Payment, Delays and Quality Assessment
The following questions relate to payment and inspections. When answering these questions, please continue to refer to the case study assumptions outlined in Section 1. For the definition of “procuring entity", please refer to Section 1.
Payment
63. According to the legal framework, is there a limit to how much the procuring entity can pay upfront for the contractor to hire workers, buy materials, and start operations, in a contract like the one described in Section 1?
No.
a. In practice, how much would usually be paid upfront for a contract like the one described in Section 1?
Minimum 10% of the contract value, maximum 50% of the contract value.
64. During the execution of the contract, does the legal framework establish a timeframe within which the procuring entity must process the payment once an invoice is received?
Yes. Article 19 of Decree No. 37/2015/ND-CP
a. In practice, how many calendar days will be necessary on average for BidCo to receive payment once the invoice has been delivered to the relevant authority?
Maximum 14 days
b. In practice, how many people would need to authorize payment within the procuring entity before payment is made?

2

c. Does the procuring entity set minimum standards about the completed works that the company must meet to receive payment? If so, please specify what these standards are.
Yes. Standards: Based on the actual completed amount of work by the contractor
d. In practice, how often will BidCo receive payment within the timeframe established by the legal framework?
Often (between 50-90%)
e. If rarely, what are the main reasons for delay?
N/A
f. Are payments usually spread out equally throughout the course of the work?
No. Articles 95-98 of Decree No. 63/2014/ND-CP Based on the actual completed amount of work by the contractor.
g. According to the legal framework, is the company entitled to claim interest on late payments if the procuring entity does not pay within the legally – established timeframe?
Yes. Article 94 of Decree No. 63/2014/ND-CP
h. If so, in practice how often would such interest be paid to the company?
Often (between 50-90%)
65. Assuming that BidCo delivers works complying with the quality standards agreed-upon in the contract, within budget and on time, what strategies, if any, does the procuring entity use to delay or avoid payment?
The procuring entity has certain financial difficulties
a. In practice, how often does the procuring entity not pay?
Very rarely (< 10% of cases)
b. If non-payment is common, how often would BidCo resort to informal payments to obtain payment?
Very rarely ( 90%)
68. Upon completion of the works, does the legal framework require BidCo to guarantee the works for a certain period of time?
Yes. Articles 35-36 of Decree No. 46/2015/ND-CP
69. If BidCo is required, what is the most common instrument of post-completion guarantee?
Bank guarantee / Letter of credit
Payment retention
70. In practice, how long after completion of the works is BidCo required to maintain the instrument that guarantees them?
12- 18 months
Delays & Overruns
71. In practice, how often are the works delivered within the original deadline?
Often (between 50-90%)
72. In practice, if delays are common, what are the main reasons for them?
Burdensome administrative processes within the procuring entity
Capacity of the procuring entity (staff/skills/budgetary constraints)
Capacity of the contractor (technical/financial/managerial/human capital constraints)
Poor planning on the procuring entity’s side (poorly designed project specifications, etc.)
Poor planning on the contractor’s side
73. In practice, how often are the works delivered within the original budget?
Occasionally (between 25-50%)
74. In practice, if cost overruns are common, what are the main reasons for them?
Market conditions (changes in input prices, fluctuations in exchange rate, etc.)
Burdensome administrative processes within the procuring entity
Capacity of the contractor (technical/financial/managerial/human capital constraints)
Poor planning on the procuring entity’s side (poorly designed project specifications, etc.)
Poor planning on the contractor’s side
Research – Criticalities of the Procurement Process
75. How often are the following strategies used by the procuring entity to circumvent public procurement rules?
Not advertise procurement opportunities long enough to minimize competition: 10-25%
Prioritize projects without sufficient motivation just to benefit a particular bidder. : 10-25%
Prioritize non-competitive tenders to restrict market entry. : 10-25%
Define technical specifications to benefit a specific bidder. : 10-25%
Irregularities during the bidding process. : 10-25%
Biased interpretation of the selection criteria.: 25-50%
Add specific obligations in the contract that were not previously incorporated in the tender documents, and by doing so impose unnecessary burdens on the contractor.:<10% of cases
Delay payments to the contractor to request other works not included in the tender documents. .:<10% of cases
Delay the certification of completion of the contract to obtain other works/goods/services not previously included in the tender documents. .:<10% of cases
Unilaterally and arbitrarily terminate the contract. .:<10% of cases
76/ How often are the following strategies used by private sector companies to circumvent public procurement rules?
Collusion between bidders (cover bidding, bid suppression, bid rotation, market allocation). .:<10% of cases
Collusion with the procuring entity, to negate market entry to other competitors: 10-25%
Submission of recklessly low bids to win the tender. 10-25%
Falsification of documents or failure to disclose essential information in the bidder's offer. 10-25%
Informally paying public officials: 50-90%
Abuse the renegotiation process to increase the price or the scope of the project without another competitive process. .: 50-90%
Delay the execution of the contract to coerce the procuring entity to award other contracts to the same company. 10-25%
Execute the contract with less quality or with different technical specifications than were submitted during the tender process. .: 50-90%

Employ subcontractors that were neither properly selected nor disclosed during the tender process. 10-25%

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

Thank you very much!

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

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

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

Lawyer in Vietnam Dr. Oliver Massmann BANKING

Vietnam – Banking Sector – Current Issues and Solutions for Banking and Outlook on Major Trade Deals TPP 11 and EUVNFTA
A. Introduction
Vietnam had an impressive economic growth with 6.7% GDP in the last year and is therefore one of the best performing economies in the world. Contributed by a successful monetary and credit policies, stable FX rate and NPL resolution efforts. With a great determination the Government, the National Assembly, the State Bank of Vietnam and other Ministries worked on the Resolution for Non-Performing Loans to address this core issue of the banking sector and released capital resources for the private sector to grow.
B. Issues
One important issue is the digitalization of every sector in the economy. In this field, the government shows effort, on handling the coming difficulties. The government should focus in this relation on the Industrial Revolution 4.0, which will lead to major changes in the near future. But to handle the upcoming changes properly the Government needs to support the State Bank of Vietnam which had taken proactive actions recommended necessary changes on Vietnams politics.
Also, the non-cash payment strategic plan must be implemented to make easier ways for payments. The Government should consider allowing pilot programs similar to the sandbox tool that has been used effectively by many Governments, for which is Singapore an excellent example.
The Government and the responsible ministries like the MOF, MO and MP has not reacted properly on the issue of FDI and the need for a better liquidity management. However, there is yet any regulation to enable advanced account structure like pooling in Vietnam. BWG appreciate SBV hosting workshops for international experts to share best practices.
2. Simplification of Banking Documentation

A problem in the banking sector is also the FX management regulation. Due to different interpretations by the banks and law enforcement agencies over the rules for supporting documentation checking.
The State Bank and the Government have to show effort on simplify banking documentation.
3. Bank Accounts of entities who are not legal persons under the Vietnam Civil Code.
Entities, which are not legal persons under the Vietnam Cicil Code (VCC), shall not be independent entities to enter civil transactions contracts (including opening and using bank accounts). This is an unsolved problem which should be handled as soon as possible by the Vietnamese lawmakers.
C. Outlook on major trade agreements TPP11 and EUVNFTA
In January 2017, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the US’ participation in the TPP. In November 2017, the remaining TPP members met at the APEC meetings and concluded about pushing forward the now called CPTPP (TPP 11) without the USA. The agreement shall be signed by all member states by the first quarter of 2018. After that, it has to be ratified in each member state before taking effect.
The effects of the TPP 11 promising great benefits for banking sector in Vietnam. The TPP 11 is targeting to eliminate tariff lines and custom duties among member states on certain goods and commodities to 100%. This will make the Vietnamese market more attractive and could cause motivation for foreign enterprises to settle to Vietnam because the market is becoming more dynamic with the TPP.
One another notable major trade agreement is the EUVNFTA between the European Union and Vietnam. The EUVNFTA offers great opportunity to access new markets for both the EU and Vietnam. It will help to bring more capital into Vietnam. In addition, the EUVNFTA will boost the economy in Vietnam.
Furthermore, the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) will ensure highest standards of legal certainty and enforceability and protection for investors. We alert investors to make use of these standards! We can advise how to best do that! It is going to be applied under the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA. Under that provision, for investment related disputes, the investors have the right to bring claims to the host country by means of international arbitration. The arbitration proceedings shall be made public as a matter of transparency in conflict cases. In relation to the TPP, the scope of the ISDS was reduced by removing references to “investment agreements” and “investment authorization” as result of the discussion about the TPP’s future on the APEC meetings on 10th and 11th November 2017.
Further securities come with the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) which is going to be part of the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA.
The GPA in both agreements, mainly deals with the requirement to treat bidders or domestic bidders with investment capital and Vietnamese bidders equally when a government buys goods or requests for a service worth over the specified threshold. Vietnam undertakes to timely publish information on tender, allow sufficient time for bidders to prepare for and submit bids, maintain confidentiality of tenders. The GPA in both agreements also requires its Parties assess bids based on fair and objective principles, evaluate and award bids only based on criteria set out in notices and tender documentation, create an effective regime for complaints and settling disputes, etc.
This instrument will ensure a fair competition and projects of quality and efficient developing processes.

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

Thank you very much!

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

A. OVERVIEW
Vietnam contains huge potential regarding the production of clean energy. It has best conditions for developing solar power due to being one of the countries with the most sun hours during the year and best conditions for creating wind power due to 3000km coastline. As a result, Vietnam in general, is able to attract much FDI for developing clean energy projects.
Furthermore, the new Solar PPA was issued this year to solve the lack of regulation on solar power projects. Moreover, the issuance of the Circular 16/2017/TT-BCT on the power distribution of rooftop solar plants and the alleviation of the Operating License for power plants (lmw capacity) are notable developments in the power/energy industry in Vietnam. Moreover, the implementation of the Direct Power Purchase Agreement could step into pilot phase in the next time, thus, it is estimated to create better access to clean energy and increase of investment up to USD 2 billion in clean energy.
Another notable fact is the increase of the wind tariff in early August 2017. Now, Vietnam has implemented a wind power project with a capacity of 160 MW. The new tariff shall attract new and more foreign investments in the wind power industry in Vietnam.
B. ISSUES
1. Environment
The government is implementing more and more measures on protection of the environment. Vietnam plays a proactive role on reduction of emission and CO2 but the penalties for violation are very low. Furthermore, new regulations have to be issued to ensure more environmental protection, especially in terms of fossil power projects known to be a great danger for environment regarding to huge amounts of emissions and pollution. The project developers should be obliged to develop projects using highest environmental standards.
2. Solar PPA Policy
There are issues in the solar power policy necessary to be addressed.
In general, the goals on producing clean energy in large scale and the attraction of FDI cannot be reached sufficiently yet due to issues regarding electricity pricing and the content of the final power purchase agreement. These issues lead to restraining investments and delayed development of the clean energy industry in Vietnam.
Further, there are continuing concerns about lack of transparency regarding to solar power prices and due to lack of a published Roadmap for the retail sector. This leads to uncertainty of foreign investors regarding to stability of prices. Price transparency measures should be included in the Energy Plan and a Roadmap for the retail sector should be published. The issuance of a pricing framework can also lead to more investments in off-grid projects causing relieve of EVN’s pressure on power transmission, thus, the transmission system does not have to run near overstressing at daily peak hours. Moreover, the final template of the Solar PPA contains concerning provisions for investors such as (i) lack of EVN’s payment obligations in cases of transmission problems; (ii) lack of transparent possibilities for international arbitration; (iii) the lack of PPAs’ bankability. The final PPA needs to be amended to grant more security to investors and to attract more FDI. Moreover, the administrative regulations must be simplified for more efficiency in solar power project development as well as for easier market access, especially with regard on major trade agreements like TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA.
3. Power Storage
The Solar Battery is the most common way of storing energy but the technology is not well-developed yet in Vietnam. However, the country has the possibility to become leader in the new storage technologies in the eastern part of the world. This is another reason for the necessity of development of the solar industry and extremely important as power storage solution on remote islands in order with power production in those areas.
4. Project Applications
Currently, there is a very large number of applications for solar plants existing. This leads to concerns regarding to create a ,,bubble effect” which is causing gridlocks in project developing an delays in investment as well as uncertainty among investors.
For investors, to improve the chance on winning tendered biddings, it is important to provide conditions like (i) ensured safety for wildlife, people, environment or households; (ii) maintained grid connection, (iii) enough financial solvency regarding feasibility of the project; (iv) successful projects in energy or infrastructure areas in the past.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) guarantees that all investors of power projects will be able to connect the plants to the national grid. According to the MOIT, the total reserved capacity of all planned projects is only 30% of the whole capacity, so that, there is no reason for concerns regarding to finalized projects not able to start power producing because of missing opportunity on generating turnover.
C. OUTLOOK ON MAJOR TRADE AGREEMENTS TPP 11 AND EUVNFTA
In January 2017, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the US’ participation in the TPP. In November 2017, the remaining TPP members met at the APEC meetings and concluded about pushing forward the now called CPTPP (TPP 11) without the USA. The agreement shall be signed by all member states by the first quarter of 2018. After that, it has to be ratified in each member state before taking effect.
The effects of the TPP 11 promising great benefits for the energy sector in Vietnam. The TPP 11 is targeting to eliminate tariff lines and custom duties among member states on certain goods and commodities to 100%. This will make the Vietnamese market more attractive due to technology advances, reduction of production costs and because of the high demand on renewable energy.
One another notable major trade agreement is the EUVNFTA between the European Union and Vietnam. The EUVNFTA offers great opportunity to access new markets for both the EU and Vietnam and to bring more capital into Vietnam due easier access and reduction of almost all tariffs of 99%, as well as obligation to provide better conditions for workers which is a key aspect in terms of working at power plants. In addition, the EUVNFTA will boost the most economic sectors in Vietnam. Moreover, the EUVNFTA will provide certain tax reductions to 0% for clean technology equipment as well as equal treatment for companies. Due to easier opportunity on making business, trade and sustainable development will be a good consequence for an even more dynamic economy and even better investment environment in Vietnam in general and especially in the power/energy industry.
Furthermore, the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) will ensure highest standards of legal certainty and enforceability and protection for investors. We alert investors to make use of these standards! We can advise how to best do that! It is going to be applied under the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA. Under that provision, for investment related disputes, the investors have the right to bring claims to the host country by means of international arbitration. The arbitration proceedings shall be made public as a matter of transparency in conflict cases. In relation to the TPP, the scope of the ISDS was reduced by removing references to “investment agreements” and “investment authorization” as result of the discussion about the TPP’s future on the APEC meetings on 10th and 11th November 2017.
Further securities come with the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) which is going to be part of the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA.
The GPA in both agreements, mainly deals with the requirement to treat bidders or domestic bidders with investment capital and Vietnamese bidders equally when a government buys goods or requests for a service worth over the specified threshold. Vietnam undertakes to timely publish information on tender, allow sufficient time for bidders to prepare for and submit bids, maintain confidentiality of tenders. The GPA in both agreements also requires its Parties assess bids based on fair and objective principles, evaluate and award bids only based on criteria set out in notices and tender documentation, create an effective regime for complaints and settling disputes, etc.
This instrument will ensure a fair competition and projects of quality and efficient developing processes.

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

Thank you very much!

VIETNAM – SOLAR ROOFTOP – WHAT YOU MUST KNOW:

Rooftop PV power projects having a capacity of under 1 MW are not subject to procedure to amend the Power Master Plan. The investor only needs to register the connecting terminal with a provincial power company and provide general information about expected capacity, specifications of solar panels and the power inverter.
Rooftop PV power projects having a capacity of 1 MW or over must be included in the master or provincial Power Master Plan. In addition, they must obtain the license for generating electricity.
There is a standard PPA for rooftop PV projects between the seller and EVN in Circular 16/2017/TT-BCT by the MOIT. Although the Investment Law does not prohibit investment in the form of a direct PPA, a direct off-grid PPA between the investor and the buyer other than EVN is still pending for further guidance now being worked on by the Electricity Regulatory Authority of Vietnam (“ERAV”). Our contacts in the ERAV informed us that these new rules might come out in the 3rd quarter of 2018.
Rooftop PV power projects shall apply the net-metering mechanism using the two-way electric meter system. In a billing cycle, if the amount of electricity generated from rooftop PV power projects is greater than the amount consumed, the excess amount shall be transferred to the next billing cycle. At the end of the year or the termination of the PPA, any residual electricity generated by rooftop solar projects shall be sold to EVN at the place of electricity delivery (VAT exclusive) to be VND 2,086/kWh (equivalent to U.S. cent 9.35/kWh, the “FiT”).
The electricity price of the following year shall be adjusted according to the central exchange rate of VND over USD quoted by the State Bank of Vietnam on the last working day of the previous year.
The mentioned FiT only applies to part of the rooftop PV power plant having the commercial operation date before June 30, 2019 and shall apply for 20 years from the commercial operation date.
In order to meet this tight deadline we recommend to start working on establishing the Project Company now because the whole procedure might take some months.
Industrial parks and zones are good places to build solar panels because they have large rooftops and strong electrical connections already available. The Provincial Competitive Index including the Industrial Zones of Vietnam provides an excellent starting point for working on developing your rooftop projects. Please let us know if we shall send you the Provincial Competitive Index of Vietnam and the Standard PPA for solar rooftop.
If you have any question on the above, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com . Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Thank you very much!

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

A. ISSUES AUTOMOBILE SECTOR

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

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

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

B. ISSUES MOTORCYCLE SECTOR

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

2. Increase of VAT
The increase of VAT from 10 to 12% on purchase of motorcycles is planned. Still, the motorbike is the main transportation vehicle used by Vietnamese in cities and rural areas. The increase of VAT will lead to worse socio-economy growth, thus, the government again should overthink the necessity of this planned measure.
C. OUTLOOK ON MAJOR TRADE AGREEMENTS TPP 11 AND EUVNFTA
In January 2017, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the US’ participation in the TPP. In November 2017, the remaining TPP members met at the APEC meetings and concluded about pushing forward the now called CPTPP (TPP 11) without the USA. The agreement shall be signed by all member states by the first quarter of 2018. After that, it has to be ratified in each member state before taking effect.

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

One another notable major trade agreement is the EUVNFTA between the European Union and Vietnam. The EUVNFTA offers great opportunity to access new markets for both the EU and Vietnam. It will help to bring more capital into Vietnam. In addition, the EUVNFTA will boost the most economic sectors in Vietnam. In particular, the agreement will impose new foreign direct investment in Vietnam but there still remain problems regarding lack of infrastructure and low technology. On the other hand, it will also give the chance for better transfer of technology from Europe to Vietnam. Furthermore, the low labor costs in Vietnam are a big advantage for European investors to do business in the automotive sector in Vietnam.

Furthermore, the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) will ensure highest standards of legal certainty and enforceability and protection for investors. We alert investors to make use of these standards! We can advise how to best do that! It is going to be applied under the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA. Under that provision, for investment related disputes, the investors have the right to bring claims to the host country by means of international arbitration. The arbitration proceedings shall be made public as a matter of transparency in conflict cases. In relation to the TPP, the scope of the ISDS was reduced by removing references to “investment agreements” and “investment authorization” as result of the discussion about the TPP’s future on the APEC meetings on 10th and 11th November 2017.
Further securities come with the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) which is going to be part of the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA.
The GPA in both agreements, mainly deals with the requirement to treat bidders or domestic bidders with investment capital and Vietnamese bidders equally when a government buys goods or requests for a service worth over the specified threshold. Vietnam undertakes to timely publish information on tender, allow sufficient time for bidders to prepare for and submit bids, maintain confidentiality of tenders. The GPA in both agreements also requires its Parties assess bids based on fair and objective principles, evaluate and award bids only based on criteria set out in notices and tender documentation, create an effective regime for complaints and settling disputes, etc.
This instrument will ensure a fair competition and projects of quality and efficient developing processes.

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

Thank you very much!

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

A. OVERVIEW AGRICULTURE SECTOR VIETNAM

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

B. ISSUES

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

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

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

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

C. OUTLOOK ON MAJOR TRADE AGREEMENTS TPP 11 AND EUVNFTA

In January 2017, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the US’ participation in the TPP. In November 2017, the remaining TPP members met at the APEC meetings and concluded about pushing forward the now called CPTPP (TPP 11) without the USA. The agreement shall be signed by all member states by the first quarter of 2018. After that, it has to be ratified in each member state before taking effect.
The effects of the TPP 11 promising great benefits for the agriculture sector in Vietnam and will support Vietnam’s national agriculture transforming into a self-sufficient and competitive sector. The TPP 11 is targeting to eliminate tariff lines and custom duties among member states on certain goods and commodities to 100%. As a result, international products will arrive at the Vietnamese market, so that, the Vietnamese livestock should use the given time for restructuring but also for becoming competitive and creating efficient environment for international investments.
With the National and Most-Favored Nation Treatment principle, the TPP is ensuring a fair competition which will attract new foreign investments as well as support for the agriculture sector in its restructuring process.
Moreover, national farmers must adopt high-developed technologies in nutrients and animal healthcare to be competitive. This will lead to more safety and trust of the consumer in the agriculture market in Vietnam.

One another notable major trade agreement is the EUVNFTA between the European Union and Vietnam. The EUVNFTA offers great opportunity to access new markets for both, the EU and Vietnam. It will help to bring more capital into Vietnam. In addition, the EUVNFTA will boost the most economic sectors in Vietnam. Moreover, the agreement will eliminate 99% of tariffs on agricultural products leading to huge dynamic in the sector and Vietnam will get the chance on adopting technology from the European Union.
Furthermore, the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) will ensure highest standards of legal certainty and enforceability and protection for investors. We alert investors to make use of these standards! We can advise how to best do that! It is going to be applied under the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA. Under that provision, for investment related disputes, the investors have the right to bring claims to the host country by means of international arbitration. The arbitration proceedings shall be made public as a matter of transparency in conflict cases. In relation to the TPP, the scope of the ISDS was reduced by removing references to “investment agreements” and “investment authorization” as result of the discussion about the TPP’s future on the APEC meetings on 10th and 11th November 2017.
Further securities come with the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), which is going to be part of the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA.
The GPA in both agreements mainly deals with the requirement to treat bidders or domestic bidders with investment capital and Vietnamese bidders equally when a government buys goods or requests for a service worth over the specified threshold. Vietnam undertakes to timely publish information on tender, allow sufficient time for bidders to prepare for and submit bids, maintain confidentiality of tenders. The GPA in both agreements also requires its Parties assess bids based on fair and objective principles, evaluate and award bids only based on criteria set out in notices and tender documentation, create an effective regime for complaints and settling disputes, etc.
This instrument will ensure a fair competition and projects of quality and efficient developing processes.
***
If you have any question on the above, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com . Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Thank you very much!

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

A. INTRODUCTION
The legal framework for the real estate sector in Vietnam is set with the Law on Real Estate Business 2014 (LREB), the Law on Residential Housing 2014 (LRH) (both effective since 1st July 2015). The LREB is guided by Decree No. 76/2015/ND-CP, the LRH respectively is guided by Decree No. 99/2015/ND-CP. In addition, long-awaited Decree No. 01/2017/ND-CP was released on 6 January 2017 and is amending three decrees guiding the law on land 2013 (Land Law).
The provisions of the mentioned regulations have brought more investment in the real estate market to Vietnam. They have reduced barriers for investment and widened accessibility to properties in Vietnam.

B. ISSUES
However, not every issue is solved yet.
1. Delay in issuance of land use right certificate (LURC) for foreign investors
The issuance of the land use right certificate to foreigners is one essential requirement for developing projects on purchased land. Article 75 of Decree 95/2015 provides the obligation for the Department of Construction on issuing the “Foreign Ownership Prohibited Projects List”. However, the list is not released yet. As result of that, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment is refraining from issuing LURCs to foreigners.
As conclusion, the Foreign Ownership Prohibited Projects List should be issued as soon as possible so that foreigners purchasing land in Vietnam can obtain the LURC and are able to develop their projects.
2. What are ‘’foreign invested enterprises”?
The LREB, the Land Law and the Law on investment 2014 (LOI) rule about “foreign invested enterprise”. There remain uncertainties about this term.
The LREB is not providing any definition for foreign invested enterprises. Furthermore, the Land Law is providing that joint ventures enterprises, 100% foreign invested enterprises and Vietnamese enterprises of which foreigners are buying shares, merche with and acquire are included as foreign invested enterprises without any given guidance about percentage of ownership. Under the LOI an economic organization with foreign investors being member or shareholder shall be a foreign invested enterprise if part of ownership of the foreigner in the economic organization is 51% or more. On the other hand, organizations with foreign members or shareholders holding less than 51% are not classified as domestic enterprises under the LOI.
However, this issue is crucial due to different treatment of foreign invested and domestic enterprises. For example, domestic enterprises are able to transfer land use rights in form of division whereas this is prohibited to foreign invested enterprises.
Further, the Document No. 386/BXD-QLN (28 February 2017) issued by the Ministry of Construction states that the LREB does not need to provide provisions relating to foreign invested enterprise as the LOI has already did. However, Document 386 does not state that LREB can adopt the same definition of foreign invested enterprise the term remains ambiguous under the LREB.
3. Restrictions on sources of capital
Due to limiting the sources of capital for residential housing by the LRH, foreign developers cannot obtain loans from offshore credit institutions and non-credit institutions anymore. This measure is reducing the ability and opportunity to raise capital effectively and the competitiveness for foreign developers. Even though, there is no necessity for limiting opportunities to raise capital from legitimate sources.
4. Change of land user rights in case of acquisition of shares/ capital contribution
Article 2.27 of Decree 01/2017 provides the obligation for enterprises on assigning for land use rights or registering changes in the land and assets attached to the land when there is any change in the land user in case of acquisition shares or contribution of capital with land use rights included. In case of acquiring land, the land still remains with the same enterprise. Furthermore, the assigning process can impose financial obligations. This issue can lead to difficulties for investors when they acquire shares or contribute capital in enterprises.
5. Investment Approvals
The main approval for residential developments is either an investment in-principle decision (IID) or investment in-principle approval (IAA). In addition, an investor wishing to establish a company in Vietnam needs an investment registration certificate (IRC).
a. Circumstances requiring an IID:
Article 32 of the LOI is ruling the requirement of the IID that is only applying to projects where developers receive land use rights from State directly by way of allocation or lease of land without auction, tendering or transfer. Furthermore, the Land Law states the only way developers can receive land from State is either by way of allocation or lease of land. As a result, it is uncertain in which way developer can receive land by transfer.
b. Investment approval for capital contribution by way of land use rights:
Under a joint venture between a domestic and foreign investor to develop residential housing projects, the domestic investor will contribute capital by way of land use rights. In such case the IID is required only in cases of allocation or lease of land by the State without auction tendering or transfer. It is uncertain if the IIA will be required in cases of tendering or transfer.
Under the Law of Construction 2014 the developer has to obtain the construction permit before he can commence the project. It is not clear if the IIA is required to obtain the construction permit. This requirement could lead to lack of ability on proceeding the project in cases where obtaining the IIA failed.
On the other hand, if the IID is required, the developer will have more assurance because of the possibility to obtain the IID before the land use right is contributed.
c. Overlapping investment approvals
As mentioned above, the LOI provides the requirement of the IRC apart from the IID and IAA. For projects which require the IID, the IRC will be issued automatically after 5 working days from the Issuance of the IID. The content of the IID is similar to the IRC and no additional documents are necessary for issuance of the IRC. As a result, the IRC is not necessary when the IID is issued.
For projects requiring the IIA, the developer shall obtain the IRC first, then set up the company before obtaining the IIA. As mentioned above, the developer is unable to develop the project without IIA in cases of failing to obtain the IIA. Furthermore, the IIA and IRC are dealing with authorities and their approvals and the IIA is issued based on the 1/500 planning approval so that the necessity of the IRC is not given.
6. Capital contribution in the form of land use right
The Land Law and the Law on Enterprises 2014 provide possibility of contribution land use rights by individuals of a peace of land as capital to an enterprise for a certain time period.
Under Article 80 of Decree No. 43/2014/ND-CP (15 May 2014) on guiding the Land Law, capital contribution in form of land use rights shall terminate if the individual capital contributor passes away. As a result, if the capital contributor is passing away the capital contribution agreement will be terminated which will cause affection of the enterprise’s LURC and its land use rights. On the other hand, the Law on Enterprise 2014 stipulates that if an individual contributes land as capital the enterprise will have the right over the land.
Therefore, Article 80 of Decree No. 43/2014/ND-CP has caused confusion and uncertainty for developers in case to consider receiving land use rights from individuals.
7. Conducting real estate business on land contributed as capital
Under the Land Law, domestic and foreign invested enterprises are entitled to receive capital contribution by way of land use rights. However, there is no provision in the LREB regarding contributions as capital for organizations and individuals. As a result, organizations are not entitled to receive capital contribution by way of land use rights for developing real estate projects. This is causing inequalities and an unfair competition in the real estate sector.

C. OUTLOOK ON MAJOR TRADE AGREEMENTS TPP 11 AND EUVNFTA
In January 2017, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the US’ participation in the TPP. In November 2017, the remaining TPP members met at the APEC meetings and concluded about pushing forward the now called CPTPP (TPP 11) without the USA. The agreement shall be signed by all member states by the first quarter of 2018. After that, it has to be ratified in each member state before taking effect.
The effects of the TPP 11 promising great benefits for the real estate sector in Vietnam. The TPP 11 is targeting to eliminate tariff lines and custom duties among member states on certain goods and commodities to 100%. This will make the Vietnamese market more attractive and could cause motivation for foreign enterprises to settle to Vietnam for building warehouses, offices, setting up plants or even for investing in the real estate sector because the market is becoming more dynamic with the TPP.
One another notable major trade agreement is the EUVNFTA between the European Union and Vietnam. The EUVNFTA offers great opportunity to access new markets for both the EU and Vietnam. It will help to bring more capital into Vietnam. In addition, the EUVNFTA will boost the most economic sectors in Vietnam. Establishments in other economic sectors in Vietnam will have impact on the real estate sector due to its association with these sectors such as healthcare, technology or education.
Furthermore, the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) will ensure highest standards of legal certainty and enforceability and protection for investors. We alert investors to make use of these standards! We can advise how to best do that! It is going to be applied under the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA. Under that provision, for investment related disputes, the investors have the right to bring claims to the host country by means of international arbitration. The arbitration proceedings shall be made public as a matter of transparency in conflict cases. In relation to the TPP, the scope of the ISDS was reduced by removing references to “investment agreements” and “investment authorization” as result of the discussion about the TPP’s future on the APEC meetings on 10th and 11th November 2017.
Further securities come with the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) which is going to be part of the TPP 11 and the EUVNFTA.
The GPA in both agreements, mainly deals with the requirement to treat bidders or domestic bidders with investment capital and Vietnamese bidders equally when a government buys goods or requests for a service worth over the specified threshold. Vietnam undertakes to timely publish information on tender, allow sufficient time for bidders to prepare for and submit bids, maintain confidentiality of tenders. The GPA in both agreements also requires its Parties assess bids based on fair and objective principles, evaluate and award bids only based on criteria set out in notices and tender documentation, create an effective regime for complaints and settling disputes, etc.
This instrument will ensure a fair competition and projects of quality and efficient developing processes.

D. CONCLUSION
The mentioned issues are affecting the competitiveness in the real estate sector. The given restrictions, additional obligations for foreign investors, the lack of clear guidelines on implementing regulations are hurdles for investors seeking to invest in this sector in Vietnam. In view of the government’s commitments to ensure growth and the issues mentioned above, it is necessary to create clear guidelines for eliminating confusion to the investors and real estate buyers. Furthermore, the upcoming major trade agreements will have a great impact on the development of the real estate sector in Vietnam. On the other hand, the Vietnamese government still has to make further improvements on the legal environment for ensuring the implementation of the agreements.

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

Thank you very much!

Vietnam – Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies – Did the State Bank of Vietnam Just turn its Back on the Future of Commerce?

Authors: Esko Cate and Dr. Oliver Massmann

Late October 2017, in a written notice to the public media, the State Bank of Vietnam re-affirmed that the issuance, supply, and use of ‘virtual’ currency is strictly prohibited in Vietnam. In support of the prohibition, the State Bank of Vietnam relied on provisions of Decree 101/2012/ND-CP on non-cash payment as amended by Decree 80/2016/ND-CP. These clauses state that payment instruments which are not stipulated by the State Bank (i.e. – implicitly, Bitcoin and other forms of virtual currency) are illegal. In assigning a penalty for violation, the State Bank relied on article 27 of Decree 96/2014/ND-CP on administrative sanctions for monetary-banking infringements, which prescribes a fine of between 150-200 million VND for a violation the prohibition.

This broad order encompasses all forms of virtual currency including, and most notably, cryptocurrencies. The most renowned cryptocurrency is Bitcoin which was the first cryptocurrency and has gained the most public recognition; however, since the creation of Bitcoin, many different kinds of cryptocurrencies have been created.

What are Cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrencies are digital forms of currency which are not connected to any government or central bank. Each cryptocurrency is contained within its own network; anytime a person interacts with that cryptocurrency, their computer joins that cryptocurrency’s network. When a transaction occurs using a cryptocurrency, that transaction is recorded in a permanent, public digital “ledger” which is constantly being updated and shared with all the computers in that cryptocurrency’s network.

To ensure that the ledger is never tampered with, computers in the cryptocurrency’s network, owned by companies and individuals from all corners of the world, are constantly sealing off the recorded parts of the digital ledger by encrypting the record using complex mathematical equations. Batches of transactions are sealed off at a time. A useful analogy would be to compare these batches of recorded transactions to pages in a ledger. When enough transactions are recorded to fill a page, that page is then sealed off. The technical terminology for these pages is a “block.”

As an added measure of protection, the sealing off process is compounding. This means that the mathematical equations used to seal off new blocks require information from the previously sealed off blocks in the ledger. This can be conceptualized as a chain with each block as a link. Because each link in the chain relies on information from the previous link, any tampering with a sealed link will be evident in all subsequent links because the entire chain would be altered. These aspects are the reason that the technology used to create cryptocurrencies is called “Blockchain” technology.

As a reward for recording and sealing off a block of the ledger, the software is programmed to award computers or groups of computers with newly created cryptocurrency. Accordingly, the process of recording and sealing off the ledger is called “mining.” Computers that accomplish more of the sealing off process are awarded more of the currency. This makes the mining process competitive. The entire process consumes a lot of electricity so computers that are specially designed for mining are required in order to make mining profitable.

Because all transactions occur within the cryptocurrency’s network, every transaction is visible to everyone in the network, the encryption step relies on information from the sealed off blocks, and the data ledger is stored on every computer in the network rather than on a central server, the cryptocurrency theoretically cannot be counterfeited. This aspect, along with the rarity of the cryptocurrency and its ability to be used in digital transactions gives the currency value.

For these reasons, cryptocurrencies arguably function more similarly to commodities such as gold or oil. In fact, cryptocurrency has been classified as a commodity by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and is accordingly regulated as such in the U.S.A. The major difference between cryptocurrency and most commodities is the ability to use cryptocurrency to accomplish small transactions. As the infrastructure for cryptocurrency grows, cryptocurrencies are increasingly able to be used to directly purchase goods.

As with most technologies, Blockchain technology has been updated, perfected, and is beginning to be used for a variety of different applications. Private companies are beginning to create new cryptocurrencies designed for specific applications such as real estate transactions and the recording of contracts and security obligations. These currencies are often referred to as “altcoins” and sometimes differ from the style of cryptocurrency described above in several respects including the distribution method and economic model.

It is unclear from the State Bank of Vietnam’s declaration whether use of all of these other altcoins is similarly prohibited in Vietnam. Part of the confusion stems from ambiguous rationale for the prohibition. The official release by the State Bank simply states that Vietnam has already created a legal framework for means of payment and that virtual currencies fall outside the scope of that framework.

Possible Rationale for Vietnam’s Prohibition of Virtual Currencies

There are several theories regarding the underlying rationale for the State Bank’s Prohibition. One theory is that the prohibition is a protectionist measure for Vietnam’s current currency, the Vietnamese Dong (VND). While VND has remained stable in recent years, it has experienced significant fluctuation and devaluation over the course of its existence which makes VND more difficult to trust than other more stable currencies. As internet penetration steadily increases in Vietnam, ecommerce has similarly been steadily becoming more predominant. If enough people begin using methods of payment other than the domestic currency, it could potentially lead to a collapse of VND. Historically, collapse of a state currency is accompanied by severe repercussions such as civil unrest.

Another possible rationale looks to the strong correlation between countries that have banned cryptocurrency and the levels of corruption in their government. From its inception, cryptocurrency has been touted as an anti-corruption tool designed to circumvent the control of corrupt governments. Other countries that have placed prohibitions on the use of cryptocurrencies include Bolivia, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and China, with Russia likely to officially follow soon. As of 2016, Vietnam was ranked 113 by Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, which awards countries with little perceived corruption the best ranks. For context, Denmark, which was found to have very little perceived corruption, was ranked first, and Somalia was at the very bottom of the list, ranked 176th.

With the exception of China which was ranked 79th, none of the countries that have banned cryptocurrency were ranked in the top 100 countries with the least perceived corruption. Vietnam and Bolivia tied for 113th, while Bangladesh took up the rear in the 145th spot. While there is a clear correlation, it should be noted that all of these countries are generally considered low-income countries. Based on International Monetary Fund data, none of the countries that have banned cryptocurrency have a per capita nominal GDP greater than $9,000. If China, Russia, and Ecuador are excluded, that number is reduced to $3,200. The correlation between countries that have banned cryptocurrency and low per capita nominal GDP gives the first rationale discussed above more traction.

The third rationale may lie in the State Bank of Vietnam’s careful and slow approach to this matter. While this body may be fully aware that the application of blockchain technology and the use of cryptocurrencies are an irreversible trend, it needs more time to check all possible impacts. This is to ensure that such trend must be fully under its control. Just two months before the State Bank of Vietnam’s above statement, the Prime Minister of Vietnam gave greenlight for a scheme on creation of a legal framework for management and handling of cryptocurrency and virtual property. One should not however expect that a complete legal framework on cryptocurries could be available before 2020.

A forth rationale, and the one that is most regularly cited by countries that have banned cryptocurrency, is the attempt to combat the nefarious, illegal activity for which cryptocurrencies are often used. Because of the anonymous, decentralized nature of cryptocurrency, cryptocurrency is well-suited for illegal online transactions. Particularly at the genesis of cryptocurrency, it is no secret that its primary use was the purchase of illegal goods and services in a murky segment of the internet commonly referred to as the Darkweb. Despite a severe lack of data related to these underground online marketplaces, it is well documented that cryptocurrency is the primary form of payment. The idea is that if country prohibits the means of purchasing goods and services on these markets, it will be easier to stamp out the activity all together. As cryptocurrency has evolved and more legitimate uses have been developed, this rationale for prohibition has become weaker.

At this point, it remains unclear whether any one of these rationales, or some combination, was the driving factor for the State Bank of Vietnam.

Moving Forward

Moving forward, it would benefit the Vietnamese government to clarify their position on cryptocurrency and, more generally, Blockchain technology. As noted above, the technology has significant applications beyond pure ecommerce. It is clear from the media penetration and ever-increasing value of cryptocurrencies that the technology is shifting from the margins into centerstage. As more and more large businesses embrace the technology and more countries develop legal framework for cryptocurrency, it is evident that cryptocurrencies are here to stay. Vietnam should think twice about repercussions of turning its back on what is promising to be a key aspect of the digital future.

Creating a well thought out legal framework for regulating cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology, as other developed countries are doing, would signal to the international community that Vietnam is in-step with the international frontrunners in commercial technology and development. Phrased another way, it would announce to the world that, as the future of commerce unfolds, Vietnam is here and Vietnam is ready to play.

***

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

Thank you!