Tag Archives: vietnam

VIETNAM – POWER DEVELOPMENT MASTER PLAN – LATEST NEWS – WHAT YOU MUST KNOW:

The MOIT Party’s Committee have issued Resolution No. 21-NQ-BCSD dated 10 Jan 2020 on the principles and procedure of the amendment and supplement power development plan. We would like to update the very fresh news on priority of project inclusion in the upcoming power development plan.

Priority is given to power grid projects first, followed by power source projects. Moreover, it is given to the areas with less renewable energy projects and with the capacity to release power. The national power development plan, approved by the Prime Minister, only includes 220kV and above power grid projects and 50 MW and above power source projects. Solar power projects are temporarily not under individually inclusion.

Regarding power grid projects, the highest priority goes to the ones included in EVN’s five-year Plan (approved by Prime Minister) and the 220kV transmission grid projects which are included in the Provincial PDP 2016-2025. Those projects are not subject to application requirements. The followed priority order is: (i)The projects included in PDP7 which adjust progress and scale; (ii) The projects help relieving hydroelectric and renewable power; (iii) Projects for new or adjusted load such as industrial zones or plants need large power; and (iv) Power connection projects which are included in the plan but not yet approved for connection or is proposed for adjustment.

Regarding power source projects, priority order is: (i) Wind projects with the capacity to finish plant and grid before 11/2021 in the areas without grid overload, therein prioritize the projects which have finished the first phrase, is proposing to increase capacity or is carrying out the second phrase using the existing connection infrastructure; (ii) sewage-to-power projects; (iii) biomass power; (iv) Hydroelectric projects prosing for capacity adjustment; (v) New hydroelectric power; (vi) Traditional projects, prioritize the ones with large renewable energy auxiliary (hydro, gas).

New guidance for the proposal of wind power projects has been released. Areas with less projects and capable to absorb more power such as Quang Binh, Ha Tinh, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Hau Giang, etc. would be prioritized. The areas with more projects follow, prefer the areas have taken into account power release. In addition, the evaluated projects would be reviewed first, followed by the others in chronological order.

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

VIETNAM – SOLAR POWER – LATEST NEWS ON FEED IN TARIFF AND FIT-ELIGIBILITY – WHAT YOU MUST KNOW:

After the Government Office’s notification No. 402/TB-VPCP dated 22 November 2019 on solar power FiT2 and auction scheme, the MOIT has coordinated and consulted with EVN, MOF and MOJ to finalize its draft solar power FIT2. On 31 December 2019, a final draft submission letter from MOIT (with signature but no stamp) (NB: no draft FiT2 PM Decision attached also) for FiT2 PM Decision has been internally circulated. To our knowledge, this submission letter and the draft FiT2 PM Decision would be duly executed and submitted to the Prime Minister no later than COB next week. Please kindly find below our highlights of this draft submission letter of MOIT.

1. FIT2 Eligibility

The MOIT insisted that in order to be eligible for FiT2, solar power projects must (i) have been in principle approved, and added in the relevant power development planning, (ii) have signed PPAs with EVN, (iii) be “under construction” prior to 23 November 2019, and (iv) reach COD by end of 2020.

The MOIT document defined what “under construction” means for this purpose. It takes a narrow view, referring to Article 6.1.b of Decree 59/2015/ND-CP dated 18 June 2015 re management of construction projects to suggest that for a project to be considered “under construction” the project must have completed appraisal of either detailed or technical construction design (as the case may be) prior to 22 November 2019. Based on the reports of EVN dated 2&12 December 2019, MOIT determined there are only 7 solar power projects of 320 MW which are currently eligible for FiT2. The list of FiT2 eligible solar power projects is attached at Schedule 1 of the draft FiT2 PM Decision which has not yet been disclosed.

The MOIT also mentioned (i) Schedule 2 for solar power projects have been in principle approved, and added in power development planning, signing PPA, (ii) Schedule 3 for list of 30 solar power projects in Ninh Thuan province of 1,933 MW, and (iv) Schedule 4 for list of 22 projects that have been appraised for master plan addition and reported to the Prime Minister. The foregoing schedules have not yet been disclosed.

As reported before, EVN sent letter no. 6774/EVN-TTD dated 12/12/2019 to MOIT to suggested FiT2 to be applied to the projects which have construction contracts before 22 November 2019 (of any part of the project) and have evidence on the implementation of the project. In addition, EVN suggested that MOIT may consider decreasing the FiT2 in proportion to the construction delay status of relevant projects (e.g., 5% of FIT2 for any quarter failing to meet construction deadline). However, the MOIT did not agree with this proposal from EVN.

2. FIT2 Price for Solar Power Projects / Rooftop Solar (RTS) Projects

The submission letter is not very clear on the FiT2 price but very likely MOIT will keep the last draft FiT2 price structure i.e., (i) 7.06 UScent per Kwh for ground-mounted solar power projects and (ii) 7.69 UScent per Kwh for floating solar power projects.

In terms of RTS projects, MOIT proposed the price to be 8.38 UScent per Kwh. The MOIT did not agree with EVN’s proposal to remain 9.35 UScent per Kwh for RTS projects during 2020.

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

VIETNAM – SOLAR POWER – KEY POLICY NEWS – What you must know:

After Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s notification No. 402/TB-VPCP on 22 November 2019 on FiT 2 and auction scheme, we would like to update some key policy progress as belows:

1. Most recent draft of MOIT on FiT 2
The draft only allows only a tiny proportion of already-approved solar projects may qualify for FiT following MOIT document dated 22 November suggested that FiT 2 will only be available for projects with signed PPAs that are “under construction” and provided they reach COD by end of 2020. The MOIT document seeks to define what “under construction” means for this purpose. It takes a narrow view, referring to Article 6.1.b of Decree 59/2015/ND-CP dated 18 June 2015 re management of construction projects to suggest that for a project to be considered “under construction” the project must have completed appraisal of detailed / technical construction designs prior to 22 November 2019. According to the MOIT’s data contained in the draft, it appears that only 4 out of 23 projects having already-signed PPAs but not yet reached COD would meet this criteria (some sources indicate there may be in excess of 30 such projects).

2. Document no.9608/BCT-DL on suspension of the approvals for solar power projects

Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade has issued OL 9608/BCT-DL, in which it urges provinces and directly under the Central Government and the Electricity of Vietnam, on stopping proposals and agreements for solar power projects (SPPs) under Feed in Tariff (FIT) mechanism. The ministry said that only projects with signed FIT contracts that are scheduled for completion scheduled by the end of this year will be able to secure subsidies, while all of the remaining projects will have to compete again in future auctions. The Ministry of Industry and Trade is now working with ministries and agencies to complete the draft of a new auction mechanism.

3. Respond from EVN to MOIT
EVN has sent letter no. 6774/EVN-TTD dated 12/12/2019 to MOIT to suggested FiT 2 to be applied to the projects which have construction contracts before 22/11/2019 (of any part of the project) and have evidence on the implementation of the project. In addition, EVN suggested that to the grid-connected projects under COD before 1/7/2019, the remaining part which has not put under COD is entitled to FiT2.

4. Temporary accounting of FIT price for COD projects after 30/6/2019.
EVN has issued letter no.6909/EVN-TCKT, which instructs businesses to temporarily account FIT price of 1.916 VND/kWh (VAT excluded), unless any other guidance is issued.

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

VIETNAM – THE NEW COMPETITION LAW – PRAGMATIC PROGRESS – WHAT YOU MUST KNOW:

The National Assembly on 12 June 2018 passed the Law on Competition No. 23/2018/QH14 (“Law on Competition 2018”). Effective from 1 July 2019, the new law replaced old Law on Competition No. 27/2004/QH11 (“Law on Competition 2004”).The new law has made progressive reforms from the previous law. Significantly, the Law on Competition 2018: (i) expands scope of application; (ii) creates and holds the new competition agency accountable for its duties; (iii) adds new types of prohibited anti-competitive agreements;(iv) reforms the concept of enterprise dominance); and (v) introduces the leniency policy to violators of the law.

Expansion scope of application: the new law shall govern activities by Vietnamese or foreign entity or individual which have or may have the “competition restraining impact” to Vietnam market. The competition authority of Vietnam has the authority to deal with offshore activities and transactions having impact on Vietnam market. In addition, the new law is applicable to apply to non-enterprises entities, which are public service units such as hospitals, or schools.

Accountability of the new competition agency: the Law on Competition 2018 has created a new governmental body namely National Competition Commission (“NCC”). NCC is a body of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, NCC replaces the dual agency system under the Law on Competition 2004 which it shall exercise discretion to investigate and adjust the cases involving restraint of competition and unfair competitive practice. However, as a body of MOIT, NCC’s independence and impartiality is controversial when there is an involvement of state-owned-enterprises. The NCC is accountable for its failure to adjust the case during the prescribed time by paying compensation where there is loss or damage suffered by the enterprise. Anti-competitive agreements: the Law on Competition 2018 has provided four new types of prohibited anti-competitive agreements namely: (i)agreements to share customers; (ii) agreements not to engage in transactions with enterprise which is not a party to the agreement; (iii) agreements to limit the product sale market or sources of supply goods and services of parties not participating in the agreements; and (iv) other agreements which have or may have significant competition restraining impact. The new law replaces the threshold of 30% combined market share when determining the anti-competitiveness of the agreements. The Law on Competition 2018 imposes the significant competition restraining impact assessment to determine whether the agreement is prohibited.

The assessment shall take into account the: (i) market share ratio of enterprises participating in the agreement;
(ii) the barriers to market access or expansion; (iii) restriction of research, development and renovation of technologies or restriction of technological capacity; (iv) reduction of the ability to access or possess essential infrastructure; (v) increase of costs and time of customers in purchase of goods or services from enterprises participating in the agreement or when changing to purchase other relevant goods or services; and (vi) hindering competition in the market via the control of special factors in industries and sectors relating to the enterprises to the agreement. The restraint of competition agreements are applied to horizontal agreements between parties in the same related market or vertical agreements between parties in the same supply chain. The agreement in restraint of competition might be exempted for up to five years.Reform of abuse of dominance: the Law on Competition 2018 upholds the market share presumption under the old law. However, the new law replaces the concept of “substantially restrain competition” test by “significant market power” test to identify enterprises dominance in the market.The identifying factors are:(i) market share between enterprises in the relevant market; (ii) financial strength and scale of enterprise; (iii) barriers to another enterprise to enter or expand the market; (iv) capability of holding, accessing and controlling the market for distribution and sale of goods or services or the supply of goods and services; (v) advantages of technologies, technical infrastructure; (vi) ownership and right to possess and access infrastructure; (vii) ownership and right to use objects of intellectual property rights; (viii)the ability to switch to sources of supply and demand of other relevant goods or services; and (ix) special factors in the industry or sector in which the enterprise is conducting business. In terms of group dominance, the new law additionally stipulates that five enterprises with total market share of 85% or more in the relevant market is a group of enterprises with dominant market position.

Enterprise with market share of less than 10% in the relevant market is not a member of the group dominance. Previously, the law prohibits an economics concentration transaction only (e.g., a merger, consolidation or buy-out) if the combined market share of enterprises is more than 50% of the relevant market. However, under the new law, this condition is replaced by factors as to whether an economic concentration has or may have significant competition restraining impact.

Leniency policy: the Law on Competition 2018 for the first time stipulates the lenient approach as to reduce or exempt penalties for enterprises which voluntarily report their violation of the law to the competition authority prior to the investigation. The leniency does not apply to enterprises forcing or organizing other parties to participate to the agreement. Three applicants to leniency shall be entitled to an exemption of up to 100%, 60% and 40% of penalty accordingly. It remains to be seen how this Leniency approach is handled in practice by the authorities but it is the first step in the right direction.

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

The Free Trade Agreement and the Investment Protection Agreement between the EU and Vietnam – Sustainable Growth and Legal Certainty for Investors

Overview

On the 2nd of December 2015, after almost three years and 14 rounds of negotiations, President Donald Tusk, President Jean-Claude Juncker and Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyễn Tấn Dũng announced the conclusion of the negotiations of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). The EVFTA is a new-generation Free Trade Agreement between Vietnam and the EU. On 26 June 2018, the EVFTA was split into two separate agreement, one on trade and one on investment. In August 2018, EU and Vietnam completed the legal review of the EVFTA and the EU – Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA). The EVFTA needs to be ratified by the European Commission and European Parliament while the EVIPA must be additionally ratified by the Parliament of each EU member countries.

On 30th June 2019, EU Commissioner for Trade Mrs. Cecilia Malmstrom, together with Romanian Minister in charge of business, commerce and business Mr. Stefan-Radu Oprea represented the EU to sign the EU – Vietnam FTA (EVFTA) in Hanoi.

Both the EVFTA and EVIPA are said to bring the best advantages and benefits ever for enterprises, employees, and consumers in both the EU and Vietnam. Vietnam’s GDP is expected to increase by 10-15 per cent and exports are predicted to rise by 30-40 per cent in the next 10 years. Meanwhile, the real wages of skilled labourers could rise up to 12 per cent, while the real salaries of common workers could increase 13 per cent. Once the EVFTA is ratified and implemented, and once Government policies and institutional reforms begin to take effect, Vietnam’s business activities will boom. However, issues still remain. In this chapter, EuroCham’s Legal Sector Committee will raise the issues relevant to their particular industries, and make specific recommendations in order to address these concerns.

Legal environment

General market access for goods and services

The EVFTA is the most comprehensive and ambitious trade and investment agreement that the EU has ever concluded with a developing country in Asia. It is the second agreement in the ASEAN region, after Singapore, and it will intensify bilateral relations between Vietnam and the EU. Vietnam will have access to a potential market of more than 500 million people and a total GDP of US$15,000 billion (accounting for 22 per cent of global GDP). Meanwhile, exporters and investors from the EU will have further opportunities to access one of the largest and fastest-growing countries in the region. According to a report released in early 2017 covering 134 cities worldwide, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are ranked among the top 10 most dynamic cities due to their low costs, rapid consumer market expansion, strong population growth and transition towards activities attracting significant amounts of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). According to the World Bank, Vietnam has one of the fastest growing economies in the world—7.1% GDP growth in 2018, and 6.7% at the mid-point of 2019. To put that in perspective, Vietnam’s GDP is growing at almost twice the rate of the USA.

In addition, Vietnam has the fastest-growing middle class in the region. It is predicted to almost double in size between 2014 and 2020 (from 12 million to 33 million people). Vietnam’s super-rich population is also growing faster than anywhere else, and there is no doubt that it will continue to rise over the next ten years.

Market access for goods

Nearly all customs duties – over 99 per cent of the tariff lines – will be eliminated. The small remaining number will be partially liberalised through duty-free quotas. As Vietnam is a developing country, it will liberalise 65 per cent of the value of EU exports to Vietnam, representing around half of the tariff lines, at entry into force. The remaining duties will be eliminated over the next ten years. This is an unprecedented, far-reaching tariff elimination for a country like Vietnam, proving its aspiration for deeper integration and trading relations with the EU.

Meanwhile, the EU agreed to eliminate duties for 84 per cent of the tariff lines for goods imported from Vietnam immediately at the entry into force of the FTA. Within 7 years from the effective date of the FTA, more than 99 per cent of the tariff lines will have been eliminated for Vietnam. This is a wider reduction compared with the 95 per cent of the tariff lines that the former TPP countries offer to Vietnamese imports. In the ASEAN region, Vietnam is the top country exporting goods to the EU. However, the market share of Vietnam’s products in the EU is still small. As a result of the EVFTA, the sectors set to benefit most are main export sectors that used to be subject to high tariffs from the EU including textiles, footwear, and agricultural products. The EU is also a good point for Vietnam to reach other further markets.

Vietnam will benefit more from the EVFTA compared with other FTAs, since Vietnam and the EU are considered to be two supporting and complementary markets: Vietnam exports goods that the EU cannot or does not produce itself (i.e., fishery products, tropical fruits, etc.) while the products imported from the EU are also those Vietnam does not produce domestically, including machinery, aircrafts and pharmaceutical products.

With better market access for goods from the EU, Vietnamese enterprises could source EU materials, technology, and equipment at a better quality and price. This, in turn, will improve their own product quality and ease Vietnam’s burden of over-reliance on its other main trading partners.

The EVFTA is considered as a template for the EU to further conclude FTAs with different countries in the ASEAN region with the aim of concluding a region to region FTA once there is a sufficient critical mass of FTAs with individual ASEAN countries. This process could take between 10-15 years. Thus, Vietnam should take advantage of this window of opportunity before FTAs with others in the region are concluded and take effect to become a regional hub.

Market access for EU service providers

Although Vietnam’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) commitments are used as a basis for the services commitments, Vietnam has not only opened additional (sub)sectors for EU service providers, but also made commitments deeper than those outlined in the WTO, offering the EU the best possible access to Vietnam’s market. (Sub)sectors that are not committed under the WTO, but under which Vietnam has made commitments, include: Interdisciplinary Research & Development (R&D) services; nursing services, physiotherapists and para-medical personnel; packaging services; trade fairs and exhibitions services and building-cleaning services.

When these services reach international standards, Vietnam has a chance to export high-quality services, resulting in not only an increase in export value but also export efficiency, thus helping to improve the trade balance.

Government procurement

Vietnam has one of the highest ratios of public investment-to-GDP in the world (39 per cent annually from 1995). However, until now, Vietnam has not agreed to its Government procurement being covered by the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) of the WTO. Now, for the first time, Vietnam has undertaken to do so in the EVFTA.
The FTA commitments on Government procurement mainly deal with the requirement to treat EU bidders, or domestic bidders with EU investment capital, equally with Vietnamese bidders when the Government purchases goods or requests a service worth over the specified threshold. Vietnam undertakes to follow the general principles of National Treatment and Non-discrimination. It will publish information on intended procurement and post-award information in Báo Đấu Thầu – Public Procurement Newspaper – and on information on procurement system at muasamcong.mpi.gov.vn and the official gazette in a timely manner, allow sufficient time for suppliers to prepare for and submit requests for participation and responsive tenders and maintain the confidentiality of tenders. The FTA also requires its Parties to assess bids based on fair and objective principles, evaluate and award bids only based on criteria set out in notices and tender documentation and create an effective regime for complaints and settling disputes. These rules require Parties to ensure that their bidding procedures match the commitments and protect their own interests, thus helping Vietnam to solve its problem of bids being won by cheap but low-quality service providers.
Government procurement of goods or services, or any combination thereof, that satisfy the following criteria falls within the scope of the FTA Government Procurement rules:

Criteria – FTA;

Investment Dispute Settlement

This is now covered in the IPA. In disputes regarding investment (for example, expropriation without compensation or discrimination of investment), an investor is allowed to bring the dispute to the Investment Tribunal for settlement. To ensure the fairness and independence of the dispute settlement, a permanent Tribunal will be comprised of 9 members: 3 nationals each appointed from the EU and Vietnam, together with 3 nationals appointed from third countries. Cases will be heard by a 3-member Tribunal selected by the Chairman of the Tribunal in a random and unpredictable way. This is also to ensure consistent rulings in similar cases, thus making the dispute settlement more predictable. The IPA also allows a sole Tribunal member where the claimant is a small or medium-sized enterprise or the compensation of damaged claims is relatively low. This is a flexible approach considering that Vietnam is still a developing country.

In case either of the disputing parties disagrees with the decision of the Tribunal, it can appeal it to the Appeal Tribunal. While this is different from the common arbitration proceeding, it is quite similar to the 2-level dispute settlement mechanism in the WTO (Panel and Appellate Body). We believe that this mechanism could save time and cost for the whole proceedings.

The final settlement is binding and enforceable from the local courts regarding its validity, except for a five-year period following the entry into force of the FTA for Vietnam (please refer to further comments in the Chapter on Judicial Recourse).

Conclusion

The EVFTA, once ratified, will create sustainable growth, mutual benefits in several sectors and be an effective tool to balance trade relations between the EU and Vietnam. Vietnam is working hard to meet the high standards set out in the FTA, and is currently offering greater opportunities for foreign businesses in preparation for the FTA’s finalisation. It is now time for foreign investors to start their business plans and grasp the upcoming clear opportunities.

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Please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com or any other lawyer listed in our office list if you have any questions on the above. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

ベトナムの世界銀行がドウェイン・モリス法律事務所に対し、ベンチマーキング・インフラ民間連携(PPP)について、知っておくべき以下の疑問を問う

ケーススタディの仮定
· プライベートパートナー(プロジェクト会社)は、ベトナムで運営されている民間企業のコンソーシアムによって設立された特別目的会社(SPV)です。
· 調達機関は、ベトナムの国家/連邦機関であり、輸送部門(国道)の国家/連邦インフラ・プロジェクトの設計、建設、資金調達(完全または部分的)、運用、および保守を計画しています。 1億5,000万米ドル(または現地通貨での相当額)の投資額は、可用性の支払いまたは使用料で賄われています。
· このため、調達機関は、競争力のあるPPP調達手順に従って、入札の公募/入札の招待/提案の要求/資格の要求を開始します。
定義
· 「民間連携(PPP)」とは、公的資産またはサービスを提供するための公的機関または当局と民間企業との間の契約上の取り決めを指します。この調査の目的のために、この定義は特定の国または管轄で使用される用語に関係なく適用され、政府支払いまたはユーザー支払いPPPの両方に適用されます。
· 「規制の枠組み」には、すべての法律、規制、ポリシー、拘束力のあるガイドラインまたは指示、標準的なPPP契約、一般的な適用に関する他の法的文書、司法上の決定、およびPPPに関連する先例を管理または設定する行政裁定が含まれます。これに関連して、「ポリシー」という用語は、すべての利害関係者を拘束し、法律および規制と同様の方法で施行され、PPPの実装に関する詳細な指示を提供する他の政府発行の文書を指します。公共サービスを提供するための行動方針としてPPPを使用するという政府の意図の意味において、ポリシーと混同しないでください。「規制の枠組み」には、PPPを扱う法律、規制、政策などが含まれますが、これらに限定されません(PPPの調達は一般調達枠組みによって管理される場合があります。関連する法律および規制)。
· 「調達機関」とは、調達/入札プロセスが正常に完了した後、関連する資産および/またはサービスが民間パートナーによって提供されることを保証する責任を負う省、部門、または機関です。これは、PPPを担当する機関(すなわちPPP契約の特定、準備、調達、授与、管理)です。
· 調達用語:調達関連の用語は、調達手順の種類とプロセスの段階に応じて、管轄区域によって異なることを考慮して、調査で使用される用語は、現地の命名規則に最も適合するように寄稿者によって解釈される必要があります。特に、次の非網羅的な用語リストは、調査の文脈において互換性があると広く理解できます。
記事全文及び質問内容等に関しご質問等がございましたら、
お気軽にオリバー・マスマン(OMassmann@duanemorris.com)までご連絡くださいませ。

VIETNAM – SOLAR POWER FEED IN TARIFFS BREAKING NEWS – FINAL DRAFT DECISION ON SOLAR POWER FEED-IN-TARIFFS FOR THE PERIOD FROM 1 JULY 2019 TO 31 DECEMBER 2021

On 19 September 2019, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam (“MOIT”) submitted to the Government the final draft decision of the Prime Minister on the mechanism for encouraging the development of solar power projects in Vietnam from 1 July 2019 to 31 December 2021 (“FIT2”). It is expected that the new solar FiT2 decision will be issued soon this month.

Notably, the final FiT2 draft aims mostly at encouraging solar power project development in southern area as the MOIT estimated an addition capacity of approx. 6-8 GW need to be realized to satisfy major power demand of this area up to 2021.

New FITs for Solar Power Projects – from 1 July 2019 to 31 December 2021

Compared to the previous drafts, the final FIT2 draft does not determine FiT prices based on regions but only on technology types. The final FIT2 draft classified solar power projects into three groups as follows:

• Ground-mounted solar energy project: VND 1,620/kWh (USD 7.09 cent/kWh);
• Floating solar energy project: VND 1,758/kWh (USD 7.69 cent/kWh)
• Rooftop solar energy project: VND 2,156/kWh (USD 9.35 cent/kWh)

The above FIT2 price shall be applied for solar power projects reaching COD within the period from 1 July 2019 to 31 December 2021 and applied for 20 years from the COD date.
For Ninh Thuan province, solar power projects that reach COD before 1 January 2021 (within the capacity of 2,000 MW as already approved by the Government) still enjoy the FIT price of 9.35 cent/kWh.

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

VIETNAM – THE WORLD BANK IS ASKING DUANE MORRIS ABOUT BENCHMARKING INFRASTRUCTURE PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS – WHAT YOU MUST KNOW:

CASE STUDY ASSUMPTIONS

· The Private Partner (the Project Company) is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) established by a consortium of privately owned firms, which operate in Vietnam.
· The procuring authority is a national/federal authority in Vietnam that is planning to procure the design, build, finance (full or partial), operation and maintenance of a national/federal infrastructure project in the transportation sector (i.e. national highway) with an estimated investment value of USD 150 million (or the equivalent in your local currency) funded with availability payments and/or user fees.
· To this end, the procuring authority initiates a public call for tenders/ invitation for bids/ request for proposal/ request for qualification, following a competitive PPP procurement procedure.

DEFINITIONS

· “Public-Private Partnership (PPP)” refers to any contractual arrangement between a public entity or authority and a private entity, for providing a public asset or service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility. For the purpose of this survey, this definition applies irrespective of the terminology used in the particular country or jurisdiction and applies both to government-pays or user-pays PPP.
· The “regulatory framework” encompasses all laws, regulations, policies, binding guidelines or instructions, standard PPP contracts, other legal texts of general application, judicial decisions and administrative rulings governing or setting precedent in connection with PPPs. In this context, the term “policies” refers to other government-issued documents that are binding to all stakeholders, enforced in similar ways to laws and regulations, and provide detailed instructions for the implementation of PPPs. It should not be confused with Policy in the sense of a government’s statement of intent to use PPPs as a course of action to deliver public services. The “regulatory framework” includes but is not limited to those laws, regulations, policies, etc. dealing with PPPs (i.e. procurement of PPPs may be governed by the general procurement framework; planning and budgeting issues may be regulated instead by broader public finance related laws and regulations).
· The “Procuring Authority” is the Ministry, Department or Agency responsible for ensuring that the relevant assets and/or services are provided by the private partner after successful completion of procurement/ bidding process. It is the authority in charge of the PPP (i.e. identifying, preparing, procuring, awarding and managing the PPP contract).
· Procurement terminology: Considering that procurement-related terminology varies across jurisdictions, depending on the type of procurement procedure and the stage of the process, the terms used in the survey should be interpreted by contributors to best fit the local naming conventions. In particular, the following non-exhaustive list of terms can be broadly understood as interchangeable in the context of the survey:
o Bidding/tendering process/selection process/procurement
o Bid/tender/proposal
o Call for tenders/tender notice/invitation for bids/request for qualifications (RFQ)/request for proposals (RFP) – in cases when there is not an RFQ.
o Tender documents/bidding documents/specifications/request for proposals (RFP)

A. REGULATORY AND INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR PPPs
Q1 : Does the regulatory framework in your country allow procuring PPPs?
A1 : Yes. The basic principles and general regulations on PPPs are set out under Decree 63/2018/ND-CP of the Government dated May 4 2018 on investment in the PPP form (the “Decree 63”).
Following the Decree 63, the Ministries formulated and issued the following guidelines:
(i) Circular No. 19/2019/TT-BGTVT dated May 23 2019 on detailed guidance on investment fields and contents of feasibility study reports of investment projects in public-private partnership form in transport sector (“Circular 19”)
(ii) Circular No. 09/2018/TT-BKHĐT dated December 28 2018 providing guidance on the implementation of a number of articles of government’s Decree No. 63/2018/ND-CP dated May 4, 2018 on investment in a public-private partnership form. (“Circular 09”)
(iii) Circular No. 88/2018/TT-BTC dated September 28 2018 regulating financial management and expenses of investor’s selection of investment projects in PPP form (“Circular 88”)
(iv) Circular No. 21/2016/TT-BTTTT dated September 30 2016 on guidelines for PPP investment model under management of the Ministry of Information and Communications (“Circular 21”)
(v) Circular No. 16/2016/TT-BKHDT dated 16 December 2016 on guidelines for pre-qualification documents, bidding documents for selection of investors carrying out projects using land (“Circular 16”)
(vi) Circular No. 15/2016/TT-BKHĐT dated September 29 2016 on guidelines for pre-qualification document, bidding documents on selection of investors carrying PPP projects (“Circular 15”)
(vii) Circular No. 19/2015/TT-BKHDT dated 27 November 2015 on detailing the establishment of evaluation report in the bidder selection process.
Q2 : Are you aware of any reforms (in the regulatory framework – laws, regulations, policies, etc. or in generally followed practices) related to PPPs that took place in or after June 2017 and before June 1 2019 and that are ongoing and/or planned to be adopted after June 1 2019?
A1 : Yes. There are two reforms relating to PPPs took place between June 2017 and June 1 2019. Decree 63/2018/ND-CP on investment in the form of public-private partnership was issued on May 4 2018, in replacement of Decree 15/2015/ND-CP dated February 14 2015. Also, the Law on PPP has been in the drafting process since December 2018.
On June 19 2018, Decree 63/2018/ND-CP came into force. The Law on PPP is now being drafted and will be adopted in near future (possibly in 2020) to replace all current PPP-related documents.
Q3: For which of the following sectors is the above-mentioned regulatory framework applicable?
A3: The regulatory mentioned above applies to:
– Transportation (Article 4.1(a) of the Decree 63/2018/ND-CP; Article 5(1)(a) of the draft PPP Law released on 20 May 2019 (“Draft PPP Law”) )
– Water Supply, Sewerage, Solid Waste Management and irrigation (Article 4.1(c) of the Decree 63/2018/ND-CP; Article 5(1)(c) of the Draft PPP Law)
– Energy generation/transmission and distribution (Article 4.1(b) of the Decree 63/2018/ND-CP; Article 5(1)(b) of the Draft PPP Law)
– ICT (Article 5(1)(g) of the Draft PPP Law)
– Social infrastructure, including hospitals, education, prisons, housing, etc. (Article 4.1(d),(d) of the Decree 63/2018/ND- CP; Article 5(1)(d),(e) of the Draft PPP Law)
– Other ( Article 4.1(g) of Decree 63/2018/ND-C; Article 5(1)(g) of the Draft PPP Law; infrastructure facilities serving the development of science and technology; commercial infrastructure; infrastructure of economic zones and industrial zones (Article 5.1(h)-(i) of the Draft PPP Law).
Q4: Besides national defense and other matters of national security, does the regulatory framework explicitly prohibits or restricts PPPs in any of the following sectors?
A4: No. The regulatory framework does not explicitly prohibit or restrict PPPs in any sectors.
Q5: Please identify the PPP procuring authorities in Vietnam and provide their website(s) (if available)
A5: The procuring entities are ministries, ministry-level agencies and provincial people’s committees.
List of websites of ministries: http://chinhphu.vn/portal/page/portal/chinhphu/bonganh –
List of websites of provinces: http://chinhphu.vn/portal/page/portal/chinhphu/cactinhvathanhpho
Q6: Is there a specialized government entity(ies) that facilitates the PPP program (PPP Unit)?
A6: Yes. The PPP Steering Committee is the PPP Unit. In addition, each ministry/ministry level agency/provincial people’s committee may establish a PPP coordinating unit, responsible for management.
Website: http://ppp.mpi.gov.vn/en/Pages/default.aspx
The year of establishment: 2012
The relevant legal/regulatory basis: Decision No. 2048/QD-TTg dated October 27 2016 on consolidation of PPP steering committee (“Decision 2048”); Decision No. 369/QD-BCDPPP promulgating the regulation on activities of the public – private partnership steering committee, which replaces Decision No. 161/QD- BCDPPP dated December 11, 2012 on promulgating the regulation of the Public – Private Partnership Steering Committee.
Its main responsibilities: (Article 2 of Decision No. 369/QD-BCDPPP dated November 23, 2016 on promulgating the regulation of the Public – Private Partnership Steering Committee)
– PPP regulation and policy guidance.
– PPP capacity building for other public authorities.
– PPP promotion among the public and/or private sectors in national and international forums
– Identification and selection of PPP projects from the pipeline.
– Oversight of PPP implementation.
Q7: Additionally, is there a central project development fund (support mechanism) for project preparation?
A7: Yes. The Project Preparation Technical Assistance fund (PPTAF)
Website: http://pptaf.mpi.gov.vn/pptaf.aspx,
The year of establishment: 2010
The relevant legal/regulatory basis: Decision No. 1968/QD-BKH dated 12 November 2010 (as amended by Decision No. 56/QD-BKHDT dated 19 January 2015).

B. PREPARATION OF PPPs
Q8: Does the Ministry of Finance or Central Budgetary Authority approve the PPP project before launching the procurement process?
A8: No
Q9: Does the Ministry of Finance or Central Budgetary Authority approve the PPP project before signing the PPP contract?
A9: Yes (stipulated in Article 19.5, Decree 63/2018/ND-CP)
Q10: Does the Ministry of Finance (or government more broadly) have a specific system of : Budgeting for PPP projects, Reporting Liabilities or Accounting Liabilities?
A10: Yes. Pursuant to Article 69 (1) of Decree 63, Responsibilities of the Ministry of Finance includes:
– Budgeting for PPP projects (e.g., including the estimated total cost of the PPP project over the life of the project in the budget cycle)
– Accounting liabilities (explicit and implicit, direct and contingent) arising from PPPs (e.g., the public sector commitments to the PPP project are recorded in the national accounts)
Q11: Which alternative best describes the regulation is?
A11: International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). Clause (II)(2)(a) of the Action Plan of Decision No. 3036/QD-BTC dated November 27, 2014 provides: Solutions for professional competence in statistics…. Study and deploy method of government finance statistics, associate government finance statistics with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).
Q12: Does the Ministry of Finance (or government more broadly) disclose PPP liabilities (explicit and implicit, direct and contingent) on an online platform/database?
A12: No.
Q13: Besides the procuring authority and the Ministry of Finance or Central Budgetary Authority, do(es) any other authority(s) approve the PPP project before launching the procurement process (e.g. Cabinet, Cabinet Committee, Parliament, Supreme Audit Office, etc.)?
A13: Yes. They are Prime Minister, Ministries, ministry-level agencies and provincial People’s Committees (Article 176 of Decree 63 on the power to approve project investment proposal; Article 24(2) of Decree 63)
Q14: Besides the procuring authority and the Ministry of Finance or Central Budgetary Authority, does any other authority(s) approve the PPP project before signing the PPP contract?
A14: No.
Q15: Please select the option that best describes the way your government ensures that PPP projects are consistent with other government public priorities (e.g., in the context of a national public investment system, multi-year perspective plans, medium-term budgetary framework)
A15: The regulatory framework provides for the inclusion of PPPs in the national public investment system/medium-term budgetary framework and details a specific procedure to ensure the consistency of PPPs with other public investment priorities (Articles 4(2) and 20(1) of Decree 63; Article 3(4) of Circular no. 21/2016/TT-BTTTT; Article 8 of Circular No. 19/2019/TT-BGTVT)
Q16: Which of the following assessments are conducted when identifying and preparing a PPP in order to inform the decision to proceed with it?
A16: The assessments conducted are:
– Socioeconomic analysis (cost-benefit analysis of the socioeconomic impact of the PPP project) is regulated in Articles 20(1)(a), 24(2)(a) and 29(1)(dd) of Decree 63.
There is a specific methodology for it.
Article 20(1)(a) of Decree 63 provides that conditions for approving a project proposal includes: In conformity with the planning for the development of sectors, regions; and the plan for the local socio-economic development that are approved by competent authorities;
In article 24(2)(a), it is regulated that If at least 2 investors submit two project proposals for the same project (made in accordance with Article 23 hereof): The ministry or provincial People’s Committee shall consider choosing a project proposal which is the most feasible and effective proposal based on factors related to the need for investment; technical-based and financial-based feasibility; socio-economic effectiveness; investor’s qualifications and other factors;
Similarly in article 29(1)(dd), contents of feasibility study report includes the socio-economic effect and the impacts of the project on environment, society and national defense and security.
– Fiscal Affordability assessment (including the identification of the required long-term public commitments (explicit and implicit, direct and contingent liabilities) (Articles 18(3)(g) and 29(1)(g) of Decree 63, Article 14(4)(g) of Decree 19).
There is a specific methodology for it.
Pursuant to Articles 18(3)(g) and 29(1)(g) of Decree 63, the feasibility study report of the project shall include the project financial plan (including the contents prescribed in Point g Clause 3 Article 18 of this Decree).
Article 14(4) of Decree 19 provides As for projects that need the State capital contribution to ensure their financial feasibility, describing information concerning the State capital contribution specified in Clause 1 Section IX Appendix III enclosed with the Circular No. 09/2018/TT-BKHDT dated December 28, 2018 based on the project’s financial model and analytical data of the selected project contract.
– Risk identification, allocation and assessment (risk matrix) (Article 29(1)(l) of Decree 63; Article 3(8) of Decree 21)
There is a specific methodology for it.
Pursuant to article 29(1)(l) of Decree 63, a feasibility study report of the project shall include an analysis of risk, responsibilities of the parties for the risk management during the execution of the project;
Decree 21 in its Article 3(8) on Risk analysis and proposed incentives and guarantees regulates that According to specific conditions in terms of technical, economic and financial aspects of the project; financial analysis results to evaluate impact of risks on the project as well as costs and benefits of solutions for risk reduction shall be specified. The feasibility study report shall specify the proposed distribution of risks and responsibility between relevant parties in risk management during the project execution; proposed specific grants given by competent authorities, and risk-sharing mechanism between competent authorities and investors.
– Comparative assessment to evaluate whether a PPP is the best option when compared to other procurement alternatives (i.e., value for money analysis, public sector comparator) (Article 29(1)(a) of Decree 63; Article 3(3)(c) of Decree 21)
There is a specific methodology for it.
Pursuant to Article 29 (1)(a) of Decree 63 the feasibility study report of the project shall include: A detailed analysis of the need for the investment and the advantages of the project in comparison with other forms of investment; consultation on impact of the project with one of the following: People’s Council, People’s Committee, National Assembly delegation of province or city where the project is undertaken; professional association in conjunction with to the investment sector
According to article 3(3)(c) of Decree 21, analysis of advantages of PPP investment model must be included in the feasibility study report.
– Financial viability or bankability assessment (Article 29(1)(g) of Decree 63)
There is a specific methodology for it.
Pursuant to Article 29(1)(g) of Decree 63,the feasibility study report of the project shall include the project financial plan (including the contents prescribed in Point g Clause 3 Article 18 of this Decree)
– Procurement Strategy (i.e., quick assessment to plan and better strategize the tendering process in advance so it is fit for purpose) (Article 8(3), 9(2), 19(2) of Decree 63).
There is a specific methodology for it.
Pursuant to Article 8(3) of Decree 63, the ministry shall assign an affiliate, People’s Committee of province shall assign a specialized agency or affiliate or the People’s Committee of district level to prepare for the PPP project, including making of pre-feasibility study report, feasibility study report, and selection of preferred bidder in accordance with this Decree and law on bidding
However, regulation in Article 9(2) of Decree 63 further specifies that with regard to Group C projects, pre-feasibility study report and approval for project investment proposal are not required to be made or appraised as prescribed Point a Clause 1 hereof, but the project must be announced once the feasibility study report is approved.
In addition, Article 19(2) of Decree 63 provides that documents required to apply for approving project proposal include the pre-feasibility study report.
– Market sounding/assessment including the potential interest from contractors and capacity in the market for the contract (Article 29(1)(h) of Decree 63)
There is a specific methodology for it.
Pursuant to article 29(1(h) of Decree 63, A feasibility study report shall contain h) The capital mobilization for the project; evaluation of the need and the liquidity ratio of the market; the survey on the interest of the investors and the lenders in the project.
– Environmental impact assessment (Articles 18(3)(dd), 20(1)(e) and 29(1)(dd) of Decree 63, Section C Appendix I of Circular 09)
There is a specific methodology for it.
It is regulated in Article 20(1)(e) that the availability of environmental assessment report is a requirement for the approval of the project.
Pursuant to Article 18(3)(dd), bases for making of feasibility study report includes expected socio-economic effectiveness of project; environmental impact assessment report in accordance with law on environmental protection.
Similarly, provided in Article 29(1)(d), the feasibility study report of the project shall include the socio-economic effect and the impacts of the project on environment, society and national defense and security.
Pursuant to Section C Appendix I of Circular 09 on documentation included in the application package for evaluation of PSR, it shall include Full texts of the environmental impact assessment report prepared in accordance with law on environmental protection
– Social impact assessment (Article 29(1)(dd) of Decree 63; Section III(2) Appendix III of Circular 09)
There is a specific methodology for it.
Provided in article 29(1)(dd) of Decree 63, The feasibility study report of the project shall include (dd) the impacts of the project on environment, society and national defense and security.
Pursuant to Section III(2) Appendix III circular 09, Technical Interpretation of a project of feasibility study report shall include Making the interpretation of elements affecting society during the project implementation period, such as resettlement support, gender equality, labor or job creation, etc., and measures to minimize negative impacts
Q17: Does the procuring authority include the assessments in the request for proposals and/or tender documents?
A17: No.
Q18: Are tender/bidding documents made available online?
A18: No.
Q19: Do the tender documents include a draft PPP contract?
A19: Yes. According to general guidelines for content of project contracts in accordance with law on PPP investment, and nature, scope, and field of each specific project, the Competent Person, the Procuring Entity shall make a Draft Contract attached to the Bidding Documents. The Draft Contract specifies terms and conditions of the contract serving as bases for preliminary negotiation, negotiation, finalization, and signing of investment agreement, signing and execution of contract in conjunction with clear division of responsibilities, risks, rights and legal interests of contracting parties in accordance with applicable law (Circular No. 15/2016/TT-BKHDT on guidelines for pre-qualification document, bidding documents on selection of investors carrying public-private partnership projects).
Q20: Have standardized PPP model contracts and/or transaction documents been developed?
A20: Yes. Provided in Circular No. 16/2016/TT-BKHDT (Form 11), Circular 09/2018/TT-BKHDT (Annexes V.A and V.B)
Q21: Does the procuring authority/responsible government entity have a role in either providing or facilitating any of the following requirements: obtaining the required environmental permits, obtaining the possession of required land, obtaining the required right of way?
Q21: The responsible government entity have a role in obtaining the possession of required land. Pursuant to Article 49 (1) of the Decree 63, the provincial people’s committee is responsible for site clearance and for completing procedures for allocation or lease of land to implement the project in accordance with the law on land, the project contract and related contracts. However, the provincial people’s committee is not necessarily the procuring entity.

C. PROCUREMENT/TENDERING OF PPPS
Q22: Which best describes the required qualifications of the bid evaluation committee members?
A22: The membership of the bid evaluation committee is specified and its members are required to meet detailed qualifications as follows:
a) Have certificates of training in bidding, bidding practice certificate as prescribed;
b) Have professional competence in bidding;
c) Have at least three years of experience in the areas assigned; for bid packages to be implemented in remote areas or severely disadvantaged areas, only one year of experience is required;
d) Have adequate English level for international bid packages;
e) Have a written commitment in the Appendix enclosed herewith;
f) Persons who are mothers, fathers, mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, children, adopted children, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, brothers and sisters of the individuals involved in the establishment of EOI requests, prequalification document, invitation for bid, and request for proposals shall not be allowed to be involved in the assessment of such documents.
g) Persons who are mothers, fathers, mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, children, adopted children, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, brothers and sisters of the individuals involved in the assessment of EOI response, technical proposals, result of selection of contractors shall not be allowed to be involved in the assessment of such documents.
Q23: Does the procuring authority issue an invitation for bids/ tender notice for the PPP project?
A23: Yes. The invitation for bids/ tender notice must be published on the national bidding system (www.muasamcong.mpi.gov.vn) and Bidding Newspaper (Article 8.1, Bidding Law)
Q24: Is the public procurement notice published online?
A24: Yes. On website http://muasamcong.mpi.gov.vn/
Q25:Are foreign companies subject to any of the following restrictions when participating in the bidding process?
A25: They are subject to a requirement to form a joint venture with domestic firm(s) to be allowed to bid in the public tender. (Article 5(1)(h) of the Bidding Law)
Q26: Does the procuring authority grant the potential bidders a minimum period of time to submit their bids?
A26: Yes. Pursuant to Articles 6 (5) and (6) of Decree 30/2015/ND-CP, the time-limit for formulation of a set of proposals is within a minimum thirty (30) days from the first date of issuing the set of requirements before bid closing time. Investors must lodge their sets of proposals before bid closing time. The time-limit for formulation of bids is within a minimum sixty (60) days for domestic bids and ninety (90) days for international bids as from the first date of issuing the bid invitation documents before bid closing time. Investors must lodge their bids before bid closing time. The time calendar day: 60-90 days.
Q27: What are the procurement procedures available and/or set as default for PPP contracts?
A27: The default procurement procedures for PPP contracts are:
– Open competitive tendering/bidding (Article 37 of Decree 63; Article 9 of Decree 30)
– Competitive tendering/bidding with prequalification stage (Restricted tendering) (Article 16.1 of Decree 30)
– Multi-stage tendering/bidding (with shortlisting of final candidate(s)) (Articles 30-31 of the Bidding Law)
– Competitive dialogue (Article 38.3 of the Bidding Law, Articles 58-59 of Decree 63)
– Direct negotiation (Article 22 of the Bidding Law)
– Others (Articles 24-25 of the Bidding Law)
Q28: If direct negotiation is either an available or default option, does the regulatory framework restrict this procedure to certain exceptional conditions and circumstances (including cases of single source providers or applicable to a certain threshold)?
A28: Yes according to Article 9(3) of Decree 30
Q29: Do the tender documents detail the procedure of the procurement process, providing the same information to all the bidders?
A29: Yes pursuant to Article 26.2 of Decree 30.
Q30: Do the tender documents unambiguously specify the qualification requirements (or the prequalification requirements when applicable) making them available to all potential bidders as part of the tender notice/ invitation for bids?
A30: Yes. According to Article 26.2 of Decree 30.
Q31: Are there any parameters/limits to the qualification requirements to ensure that they do not unduly restrict competition of qualified bidders?
A31: No.
Q32: Can potential bidders/tenderers submit questions to clarify the public procurement notice and/or the bidding/tender documents?
A32: Yes pursuant to Article 30.3 of Decree 30.
Q33: If yes, can the bidders also suggest innovations to improve the tender documents or procurement approach, including for example the provision of value engineering and/or technologically neutral options?
A33: No.
Q34: If yes, is there a timeframe for the procuring authority to address questions and clarifications by bidders?
A34: No.
Q35: If yes, notwithstanding confidential information pertaining to the bidders, does the procuring authority disclose those questions and clarifications to all potential bidders?
A35: Yes according to Article 30(3) of Decree 30.
Q36: If yes, does the procuring authority extend the proposal submission deadline due to the modifications introduced in the bidding/tender documents?
A36: No.
Q37: Besides questions and clarifications, can the procuring authority conduct a pre-bid conference?
A37: Yes according to Article 16 of Decree 30.
Q38: If yes, notwithstanding confidential information pertaining to the bidders, does the procuring authority disclose the response to the queries raised by the bidders in the pre-bid conference to all bidders?
A38: Yes according to Article 18.2(c) of Decree 30.
Q39: Does the procuring authority require the bidders to prepare and submit a financial model with their proposals / bids?
A39: Yes pursuant to Articles 25.4, 45.4, 56.4 and 70.1(b) of Decree 30.
Q40: Does the procuring authority evaluate the bids/tenders strictly and solely in accordance with the evaluation criteria stated in the bidding/tender documents?
A40: Yes pursuant to Articles 33(1), 47, 58, 72 and78 of Decree 30.
Q41: Can criteria other than price (non-price attributes) be used when evaluating the tenders/bids of a PPP contract?
A41: Yes in consistent with Articles 41, 53, 67, 73 and 79 of Decree 30.
Q42: If criteria other than price are used, does it have to be justified, objective and quantifiable?
A42: Yes, according to Articles 27, 36, 39, 58.2, and 58.3 of Decree 30.
Q43: When price is used as one of the evaluation criteria, does the procuring authority provide a cost estimate?
A43: Yes pursuant to Article s 41.4, 53.4, 67.4, 73.4 and 79.4
Q44: In the case where only one proposal is submitted, which best describes the way the procuring authority deals with them?
A44: The procuring authority follows a specific procedure before awarding a PPP contract where only one proposal is submitted. Direct appointment applies (Articles 22.4 of the Bidding Law, Article 9.3 of Decree 30)
Q45: Does the procuring authority publish the contract award notice?
A45: Yes. It is not clear but it seems that the notice would be published online at muasamcong.mpi.gov.vn (Article 42 (6) of Decree 30.)
Q46: If yes, is the contract award notice published online?
A46: Yes, on website: www.muasamcong.mpi.gov.vn
Q47: Does the procuring authority notify all the bidders individually about the result of the PPP tendering/bidding process?
A47: Yes, pursuant to Article 42 (6) of Decree 30
Q48: Does the notification of the result of the PPP procurement process include the grounds for the selection of the winning bid/tender?
A48: Yes, according to Article 42 (6) (b) of Decree 30.
Q49: Does the procuring authority provide bidders/tenderers with the option of holding a debriefing meeting to discuss why their bid/tender was not selected?
A49: No.
Q50: Is there a standstill (or pause) period after the contract award and before the signing of the contract in order to allow aggrieved unsuccessful bidders to challenge the award decision?
A50: Yes, in consistent to Article 92.2 of the Bidding Law and the time in calendar days: 10 days.
Q51: Is the standstill period set out in the notice of intention to award?
A51: No.
Q52: Does the regulatory framework restrict material negotiations (for example price or scope) with the winning bidder between the award and the signature of the PPP contract?
A52: Yes, according to Article 43.2 of Decree 30.
Q53: Does the regulatory framework allow for complaint review mechanisms pertaining to the PPP bidding/tendering process?
A53: Yes, pursuant to Article 92.1 of the Bidding Law.
Q54: Is there a timeframe in which decisions on complaints are issued?
A54: Yes. The timeframe is 7 days according to Article 92.1(b) of the Bidding Law
Q55: Are decisions subject to appeal?
A55: Yes, according to Article 92.1(c) of the Bidding Law.
Q56: Is the original complaint and/or the appeal reviewed resolved by an independent administrative authority (other than the procuring authority or the courts)?
A56: Yes. Pursuant to Article s 82.2(c), 84.3 and 92.1(c)-(d) of the Bidding Law. The approving authority includes the Government, the Prime Minister, Ministries, ministerial agencies and People’s Committee of all levels.
Q57: Does the procuring authority publish the PPP contract? (notwithstanding the protection of commercially sensitive information)?
A57: No.

D. CONTRACT MANAGEMENT
Q58: Does the procuring authority or contract management authority establish a system to manage the PPP contract (i.e., attributing responsibilities or establishing specific management tools)?
A58: Yes, pursuant to Article 51 of Decree 63
Q59: If yes, which of the following tools does it include?
A59: The applicable tools are:
– Establishment of a PPP contract management team (Articles 8(6)-(7) of Decree 63)
– Participation of the members of the PPP contract management team in the PPP procurement process and/or vice versa (Article 8(7) of Decree 63)
Q60: Which best describes the required qualifications of the PPP contract management team members?
A60: The PPP contract management team members are required to meet sufficient qualification without specific details, provided in Article 8.6 of Decree 63.
Q61: Does the procuring or contract management authority establish a monitoring and evaluation system of the construction of the PPP project (i.e., system for tracking progress of construction, monitoring and evaluation of performance, etc.)?
A61: Yes, provided in Article 52 of Decree 63
Q62: Is the PPP contract construction performance information made available to the public (e.g. by request or published in the official gazette/bulletin board)?
A62: No.
Q63: Is the PPP contract construction performance information made publicly available online?
A63: No.
Q64: Does the procuring or contract management authority establish a monitoring and evaluation system of the PPP contract implementation after construction?
A64: Yes stipulated in Articles 53-55 of Decree 63.
Q65: If yes, which of the following tools does it include?
A65: The included tools are:
– Payments are linked to performance (Articles 16.3, 18.1 and 21.1 of Circular 88/2018/TT-BTC)
– Performance is assessed against output/ Key performance indicators (KPI) set in the tender documents and the PPP contract (Articles 16.3, 18.1 and 21.1 of Circular 88/2018/TT-BTC)
– The private partner must provide the procuring or contract management authority with periodic operational and financial data (Article 56.2 of Decree 63.)
– The procuring or contract management authority must periodically gather information on the performance of the PPP contract (Articles 52.1, 52.2, 73 and 74 of Decree 63)
Q66: Is there an economic/technical regulator to oversee the implementation of PPP contracts?
A66: Yes. They are Ministry of Finance (www.mof.gov.vn), Ministry of Construction (www.moc.gov.vn) and Provincial People’s Committee pursuant to Article s 69, 72 and 74 of Decree 63.
Q67: If yes, does the economic regulator have?
A67: Though each Ministry has its own establishment decision, the economic regulator has:
– Political autonomy (for example, through independence of its Directors’ appointments of the Line Ministry or other similar mechanisms).
– Managerial autonomy (freedom to determine the use of its budget and organization of resources)
– Tariff setting authority.
– Dispute resolution authority.
Q68: Are foreign companies restricted from repatriating the income resulting from the operation of a PPP project?
A68: No.
Q69: Does the regulatory framework (including standard contractual clauses) expressly regulate changes in the ownership structure (i.e. stakeholder composition) of the private partner and/or assignment of the PPP contract?
A69: Yes, pursuant to Article 43(1) of Decree 63
Q70: If yes, which of the following circumstances are specifically regulated?
A70: It regulates the changes of ownership/contract assignment, at any time during the contract, must preserve the same technical qualifications as the original operator, provided in Article 43(2) of Decree 63, but only allowed upon completion of the works (if the project has construction phase) or upon operation stage (if the project has not construction phase)
Q71: Does the regulatory framework (including standard contractual clauses) expressly regulate the modification or renegotiation of the PPP contract (once the contract is signed)?
A71: Yes, provided in Article 67 of the Bidding Law, Article 44 of Decree 63
Q72: If yes, is an approval from a government authority, other than the procuring authority, required?
A72: Yes, pursuant to Articles 30, 31, 32 and 44 of Decree 63.
Q73: If yes, which of the following circumstances are specifically regulated?
A73: The circumstances specified in law include:
– A change in the scope and/or object of the contract (Article 44 of Decree 63)
– A change in the financial and/or economic balance of the contract (Article 67.6 of the Bidding Law, Article 32.1(b) of Decree 63.)
– A change in the duration of the contract (Article 67.6 of the Bidding Law)
– A change in the agreed price or tariff or annuity payments (Articles 67.3-5 of the Bidding Law)
Q74: Is there a threshold for which a new tendering process is required?
A74: Yes. Article 32 of Decree 63 provides that A project shall be adjusted in the following cases:
a) The project is affected by natural disasters or other force-majeure events;
b) There are elements that may make the project more effective in terms of finance and socio-economic aspects;
c) There is any change in the planning that directly entails changes to the objectives, location and scope of the project;
d) The project fails to attract the investor after the survey, initial selection or bidding;
e) Other cases according to special law or the regulations stipulated by the Prime Minister.
Q75: Can the procuring/contract management authority modify a PPP contract unilaterally?
A75: No.
Q76: Does the regulatory framework (including standard contractual clauses) expressly address the following circumstances that may occur during the life of the PPP contract?
A76: The law addresses circumstances on:
– Force Majeure. (Article 67.6 of the Bidding Law)
– Subcontracting and replacement of the subcontractors. (Article 43 of Decree 63 on transfer of rights and obligations under the project contract)
Q77: Does the regulatory framework (including standard contractual clauses) allow for alternative dispute?
A77: Yes pursuant to Article 67 of Decree 63; Point 23, Section 3, Form 11 of Circular No. 16/2016/TT-BKHDT
Q78: Is arbitration available as an option?
A78: Yes. Domestic arbitration and international arbitration (Article 67 of Decree 63; Point 23, Section 3, Form 11 of Circular No. 16/2016/TT-BKHDT)
Q79: If applicable, are arbitration awards enforceable by local courts?
A79: Yes, according to Article 427 of the 2015 Civil Procedures Code.
Q80: Are other Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) options available (including mediation or dispute resolution boards)?
A80: Yes pursuant to Article s 67(1) and (2) of Decree 63.
Q81: Does the regulatory framework (including standard contractual clauses) allow for the lenders to take control of the PPP project (lender step-in rights) if either the private partner defaults or if the PPP contract is under threat of termination for failure to meet service obligations?
A81: Yes, pursuant to Article 42 of Decree 63.
Q82: If yes, which best describes the lender step-in right?
A82: The regulatory framework expressly regulates the lender step-in rights. Article 42 of Decree 63 on Lenders’ right to take over the project provides:
1. Lenders are entitled to take over or appoint a competent organization to take over a part or all of the rights and obligations of investors, special purpose entities (hereinafter referred to as the take-over right) in case the investor or special purpose entity fails to fulfill the obligations specified in the project contract or loan agreement.
2. A written agreement on the project must be made between the lenders and regulatory agencies or the contracting parties.
3. After taking over the project, the lender or his/her authorized organization shall assume all of the obligations as an investor, project business as prescribed in the project contract and agreement on the project take-over right.
Q83: Does the regulatory framework (including standard contractual clauses) expressly address the grounds for termination of a PPP contract?
A83: Yes. Project contract may be terminated if the agreed contract term expires, or else the project contract may be terminated prior to the maturity date due to the violation of one of the parties without that defaulting party’s effective remedies, due to force majeure events or other cases specified in the project contract. (Article s 45(2) and (3) of Decree 63).
Q84: If yes, does the regulatory framework (including standard contractual clauses) also addresses the consequences for the termination of the PPP contract?
A83: Yes, pursuant to Point 22, Section 3, Form 11 of Circular No. 16/2016/TT-BKHDT.

E. UNSOLICITED PROPOSALS
Q85: Are unsolicited proposals in Vietnam?
A85: It is explicitly allowed by the legal framework (Article 22(1) of Decree 63, Investors may propose the projects other than the ones approved by ministries, regulatory bodies and People’s Committees of provinces)
Q86: Does the procuring authority conduct an assessment to evaluate unsolicited proposals?
A86: Yes, pursuant to Articles 20.1, 22.2 and 23 of Decree 63.
Q87: If yes, is there any vetting procedure and/or pre-feasibility analysis before fully assessing the unsolicited proposal?
A87: Yes, provided in Article 23(2) of Decree 63.
Q88: Which best describes how the procuring authority ensures that unsolicited proposals are consistent with existing government priorities?
A88: The procuring authority follows a specific procedure to ensure the consistency of PPPs with other government investment priorities. Article 24(1) of Decree 63 and Article 15(1) of Decree 15 (A project must satisfy all the following conditions to be eligible for selection for development in the PPP investment form: (a) Conformity with the developmental master plan and developmental plans of the branch and region and with the local socio-economic developmental plan)
Q89: Does the procuring authority initiate a competitive PPP procurement procedure when proceeding with the unsolicited proposal?
A89: Yes pursuant to Article 24.2 of Decree 63, Article 4 of Circular No. 09/2018/TT-BKHDT.
Q90: Does the procuring authority grant a minimum period of time to additional prospective bidders (besides the proponent) to prepare their proposals?
A90: No.
Q91: Does the procuring authority use any of the following incentive mechanisms (Access to the best and final offer (BAFO) process and/or automatic shortlisting, Developer’s fee, Bid Bonus, Swiss challenge or other) to reward/compensate the submission of unsolicited proposals?
A91: No.

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

VIETNAM – INFRASTRUCTURE CRITERIA FOR SUSTAINABLE INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT AND RAPID GROWTH – HOW THE CPTPP AND THE EUVN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT AND INVESTMENT PROTECTION AGREEMENT CAN CONTRIBUTE

According to the World Bank, Vietnam has one of the fastest growing economies in the world—7.1% GDP growth in 2018, and 6.7% at the mid-point of 2019.[1] To put that in perspective, Vietnam’s GDP is growing at almost twice the rate of the USA. As a developing market, that growth cannot be maintained without sustainable infrastructure. To meet that demand, Vietnam needs to increase its energy capacity alone by 6,000-7,000 MW annually and spend close to US $148 billion on it by 2030.[2] Overall, it is projected that Vietnam will require US $605 billion in infrastructure spending by 2040.[3] The Vietnamese government has expressed that foreign-direct investment (FDI) is the key to meeting this demand as it lacks the fiscal capacity to meet financing requirements for large infrastructure projects on its own. Demand for transportation assets will be high due to a rapidly growing middle class, increasing urbanization, and increased international trade. Rail, road, and seaports will be critical to that sustainment. The recent trade agreements of CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership) and EVFTA/IPA (European-Union Vietnam Free Trade Agreement / Investment Protection Agreement) are two new vehicles that will help Vietnam achieve a sustainable infrastructure.

CPTPP and EVFTA/IPA Direct, and Indirect, Effects on Infrastructure

CPTPP officially came into force on 30 December 2018 between Vietnam (January 2019) and Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, and New Zealand when those seven countries ratified the agreement. The most significant impact CPTPP (and EVFTA) has on Vietnam is the elimination of most tariffs on goods, national treatment of goods and services, and relaxed requirements of cross-border trade of services.[4] Before CPTPP came into force, Japan entered into a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) agreement with Vietnam to help build a light-rail and subway system in Ho Chi Minh City at an estimated US $740 million in 2007 dollars.[5] That project has had its fiscal problems since beginning in 2012; most notably the delay from opening in 2017 to now possibly 2020 (still not determined).[6] The regulatory environment when originally entered into was not the most efficient as the legal system mired-down the contractor in procedural issues and payments to them fell dramatically behind. If that PPP agreement had been negotiated under the CPTPP, costs would have been significantly less as tariffs on materials would have been eliminated or reduced, cross-border engineering services would have national treatment, and the [PPP] and investment protection chapters[7] would have streamlined the project to make it more fiscally manageable. It is likely Ho Chi Minh City would have its first light-rail commuter line operational today if that project had been governed under CPTPP.

Indirectly, Vietnam’s seaport infrastructure is benefitting from both CPTPP and the recently in-force EVFTA/IPA. While not a party to either of those agreements, South Korea [Korea] does have its own free trade agreement with Vietnam. Knowing that the enormous markets of both Oceania (not including USA) and Europe are now—in essence—dramatically opened for Vietnam, Korea is looking to invest heavily into the port system of Haiphong—Lach Huyen in northern Vietnam.[8] By having Lach Huyen as a deep sea port, it will enable direct exports from northern Vietnam to [Canada] and European markets without transit through ports in Singapore and Hong Kong[9]–significantly reducing costs associated with that. Japan initially entered into a PPP with Vietnam for the port in 2013, but since CPTPP coming into force, the project is receiving significant investment from other countries, with Korea eyeing-it extensively to support their economic triangle of Hanoi – Haiphong – Quang Ninh.[10]

How, Specifically, CPTPP and EVFTA/IPA Can Enable Further Infrastructure Development

Since Vietnam’s entry into the WTO in 2007, they have been struggling with practically adapting to the regulatory compliance issues that entailed. More and more, however, Vietnam has been operating in that new global paradigm and they are reaping the benefits. With their emergence as one of the most dominating economic forces in ASEAN comes critical infrastructure needs to support it. The one condition that must be met is the life-cycle sustainability of the project. That includes from the negotiation through development and operation until replacement. Major projects of this nature take time, skill, and experience; however, the regulatory environment supports and underpins the entire system. We have touched on how the recent agreements have had a broad effect (or could have had an effect) on foreign-direct investment into infrastructure, but how can specific provisions of the agreements immediately help attract FDI?

1. Investment Protection

The biggest hindrance to FDI in the past has been the level of investment protection and risk allocation. According to the CPTPP, investments are not only the traditional financial ones, but also an enterprise, intellectual property rights, and licences, authorisations, and permits, as well as other tangible or intangible, movable or immovable property, and related property rights, such as leases, mortgages, liens and pledges.[11] This is a remarkable concession by Vietnam considering their land-use laws relating to real property. Under Article 9.4, foreign-investors are now treated on the same footing as domestic investors. In addition, CPTPP calls for application of international law standards which can provide a hesitant investor a degree of certainty that their investment is protected.

The EVFTA/IPA is very similar in construction to the CPTPP. Both sides have pledged national treatment and most favoured nation treatment to investors of the other side, as well as fair and satisfactory treatment, safe and full protection. Both sides will allow the free movement of capital and profit abroad, pledging not to expropriate or nationalize investors’ assets without appropriate compensation.[12] Furthermore, they pledge to compensate the losses of the other side’s investors in the same way as domestic investors.

This is a dramatic shift for Vietnam and practical implementation of the recent agreements will take time and a learning-curve. However, once this major hurdle has been overcome and CPTPP and EVFTA/IPA become the new-norm, investors will be significantly more apt to engage in large, long term projects in Vietnam.

2. Tariff Elimination and Cross-Border Trade of Services

Right behind investment protection as a major incentive for investors is the dramatic elimination of tariffs and lessened restrictions on cross-border trade of services by and for Vietnam. The CPTPP’s broad tariff cuts on roughly 90% of items upon entry into force, and nearly all others within 10 years, will have an immediate impact on the relative competition. US exporters will now be disadvantaged in Vietnam to competitors in Canada, Japan, Australia, and other CPTPP member countries. The lessening of restrictions for cross-border services also has an immediate impact with regards to infrastructure as now engineering and construction services no longer have to have to comply with the formerly cumbersome registration process[13], they can freely open branch offices, and they can enter into joint ventures with domestic entities (subject to certain ownership limits in specified industries).[14]

The EVFTA/IPA mirrors the CPTPP in most respects, but now the entire economic engine of the EU has very limited barriers to entry into Vietnam. At entry into force, Vietnam commits to removing 48.5% of import tariffs on goods from the EU[15], or 64.5% of the EU’s export turnover, and that figure will be increased to 91.8% seven years later.[16] Outside of the tariff reductions and general lessening of restrictions on cross-border trade of services, probably one of the more significant aspects of EVFTA is the almost complete elimination of “local content” requirements for services.[17] For EU member countries, now they no longer will have to show that a certain percentage of their business is owned, operated by, or utilizes Vietnamese nationals. This may appear a cursory issue, but it is one that has traditionally been an administrative roadblock to many EU investors in the past.

The EVFTA goes one-step further than CPTPP with regards to infrastructure in that it has specific chapters that address both “trade and sustainable development” and “…investment in renewable energy generation”.[18] In those chapters, the parties “affirm their commitment to pursue sustainable development, which consists of economic development, social development and environmental protection”,[19] as well as to promote, develop and increase the generation of energy from renewable and sustainable sources, particularly through facilitating trade and investment.[20] This is a landmark agreement for Vietnam in that it is the first time they have—from an infrastructure perspective—committed to doing everything possible to eliminate barriers, both technical and non-technical, for sustainable development. Another hurdle has been overcome to attracting the EU’s expertise and hardware in roads, rail, and renewable energy.

All of this provides a regulatory landscape for infrastructure investment to flourish at a greatly reduced cost and administrative burden to both the investor, and to Vietnam. The framework is in place, now Vietnam needs to tailor their laws and regulations to match and support both the CPTPP and EVFTA/IPA.

3. Dispute Resolution, PPP

An often overlooked but critical aspect from the investor’s perspective has been the dispute resolution process before these trade agreements were in-force. Generally speaking, before CPTPP and EVFTA/IPA, most foreign investors only had the Vietnamese courts to address any dispute. This was a detriment to FDI as well as a significant additional expense.

Under the CPTPP, dispute settlement calls for both parties to resolve the matter between themselves first. If that fails, then the parties can choose alternative dispute resolution processes that are at a neutral venue with an impartial third panellist as chair[21]; however, if the parties cannot decide on a neutral forum, the complaining Party may select the forum.[22] Chapter 15 of the EVFTA provides the structure for dispute settlement and also calls for the parties to mutually reconcile before seeking any alternative dispute resolution mechanism. The procedures for an arbitration panel are essentially the same as the CPTPP except that under EVFTA, “If the Parties do not agree on the venue of the hearing, it shall be held in Brussels if the complaining Party is Viet Nam and in Ha Noi if the complaining Party is the Union”.[23] Chapter 3 of the EVIPA (dispute settlement) is a mirror of the EVFTA.
Why is this worth mentioning as one of the keys to successful infrastructure development? Most infrastructure projects are large-scale, cost-intensive, and long-term. Large, developed economies from the CPTPP and EU member nations have significant resources and experience that can benefit Vietnam in that respect; however, they want to protect their investment. The dispute settlement provisions of these new trade agreements are the vehicle that foreign investors have been waiting for—that added guarantee of prudent safety and protection for their millions upon millions of USD investment.

Most infrastructure investment has been through PPP agreements. PPP is the cornerstone for infrastructure development and has been utilized in the past in Vietnam with varying degrees of success. Those agreements were often legally cumbersome and were put together largely on faith that both the government and investor would live up to their end of the agreement. Unless otherwise specified in the contract (and sometimes even if it was) if a dispute arose the investor would have no recourse other than the Vietnamese courts. With the advent of CPTPP and EVFTA/IPA, now the regulatory environment has shifted towards favorable conditions for PPP to become a bedrock of Vietnam’s development if they incorporate those dispute settlement provisions into their PPP laws. Vietnam has recently put forth a new draft law on PPP with input from the private sector, and it is on the legislative docket for 2020. We will have to wait and see what the final product becomes, but with international arbitration now the standard, investors are more likely to consider long-term projects.

Summary

Vietnam is on the cusp of something very special, on the verge of becoming a solidly middle-class nation and regional economic powerhouse for the next generation. They will need quality infrastructure to support that—in the neighborhood of US $605 billion by 2040. Vietnam has set itself up for success, broadly, by entering into two of the most aggressive trade agreements in recent times, the CPTPP and EVFTA/IPA. Many former hiccups to robust infrastructure development have been removed or addressed by those agreements, and Vietnam now needs to capitalize on that by tailoring their current regulations and laws to match. Regardless of the type of infrastructure (road, rail, seaport, energy, etc.), the criteria for investment remain the same—investment protection, risk allocation, elimination of technical and non-technical barriers to trade/investment, and a neutral dispute resolution process. The CPTPP and EVFTA/IPA address all those criteria, now Vietnam needs to embrace and internalize those agreements systemically to solidify the foundation propelling their explosive growth.

***
Please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions or want to know more details on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.
Thank you!
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[1] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG?locations=VN
[2] https://www.vietnam-briefing.com/news/vietnams-push-for-renewable-energy.html/
[3] https://outlook.gihub.org/countries/Vietnam
[4] CPTPP Chapters 2, 10; Annexes I, II. EVFTA Chapters 2, 8.
[5] Japan is a member country of CPTPP. CPTPP is not retro-active to 2012.
[6] https://e.vnexpress.net/news/news/japanese-contractor-may-stop-work-on-saigon-metro-line-3843148.html
[7] CPTPP Chapter 9 (investment); Chapters 21 and 23 (capacity building and development)
[8] http://www.hanoitimes.vn/investment/2019/03/81e0d434/south-korea-eyes-deep-sea-port-project-in-haiphong/
[9] Id. Footnote 8
[10] Id.
[11] CPTPP Chapter 9, Article 9.1
[12] EVIPA Chapter 1, Article 1.2; Chapter 2
[13] CPTPP Chapter 10; allows for recognition of professional certifications from any qualified body to administer such certifications. No longer will engineers, for example, be required to be certified by a Vietnamese body
[14] CPTPP Annex I; specified industries of national significance (which includes most infrastructure-related businesses) are restricted to between 49-51 percent foreign ownership
[15] EVFTA Annex 2, Appendix 2-A-2
[16] http://vietnamlawmagazine.vn/vietnam-eu-sign-free-trade-investment-protection-agreements-16756.html
[17] EVFTA Chapter 7; calls for the limitation of any local-content requirements, with exceptions for certain areas of national security or significance
[18] EVFTA Chapters 13 and 7
[19] EVFTA Chapter 13, Article 13.3.1
[20] EVFTA Chapter 7, Article 7.1
[21] CPTPP Chapter 28
[22] CPTPP Chapter 28, Article 28.4
[23] EVFTA Chapter 15, Article 15.3.8

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VIETNAM – PUBLIC-PRIVATE-PARTNERSHIPS (PPP) AND CPTPP AND EVFTA/IPA DISPUTE SETTLEMENT PROVISIONS AND THE DRAFT PPP LAW

Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) have long been used as a vehicle for both emerging and developed markets to further enhance their public infrastructure to support growing socio-economic needs. Vietnam, however, has experienced an explosive economic growth over the past decade and is poised for even further expansion with their acceding to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and European Union—Vietnam Free Trade (EVFTA) agreements. With these two new growth mechanisms in-force, Vietnam’s infrastructure is struggling to accommodate that growth. The statutory cap on public funds utilization of 65 percent is rapidly approaching and the most viable investment form left for Vietnam is a functional PPP program.

Both CPTPP and EVFTA/IPA (Investment Protection Agreement) lay out very broad frameworks for supporting infrastructure development such as preferring renewable energy over environmentally-damaging alternatives and establishing development committees to determine how best to support that effort.[1] With the core of those agreements addressing elimination of almost all duties and tariffs on goods and services between the parties (over time), it makes the cost of acquiring hardware for energy infrastructure less. Additionally, the restrictions on cross-border trade in services required to construct and maintain technologically advanced platforms are lessened; further reducing the cost of an infrastructure project. Vu Tien Loc (president of Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry) speaking at an event “EVFTA and EVIPA: Opportunities for Business” held on July 1 by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, stated that EVFTA is the best FTA Vietnam has ever signed.[2] Vietnam is heading towards a foreign direct investment (FDI) generation, with higher quality, more advanced technologies, higher added value and a more eco-friendly environment, so the EVFTA will open the door for EU companies to complete these targets, Loc said.[3]

With these opportunities presented for Vietnam’s economic future, a draft law on PPP was drawn to address some of the concerns foreign investors have had regarding the regulatory environment for PPP in Vietnam. Mainly that there is not an appropriate level of risk allocation (too much on the investor), and there is not enough regulatory stability to support a long-term PPP project (generally 25-30 years). Many of the primary concerns have been discussed in other various articles; however, CPTPP and EVFTA/IPA have two restrictions reserved by Vietnam that can hinder the potential for expansive FDI in energy infrastructure (specifically power distribution)—CPTPP Annex IV and EVIPA Annex 2.1. Conversely, they also include dispute settlement provisions between member countries that can attract PPP investment if incorporated into the draft PPP law.

CPTPP Annex IV and EVIPA Annex 2.1

CPTPP Annex IV states, “[Regarding] all state-owned enterprises[4]…Viet Nam may require or direct the Entity [CPTPP member] to: (b) accord preferential treatment to…enterprises that are investments of Vietnamese investors in the territory of Viet Nam…pursuant to a government measure.” EVIPA Annex 2.1 states, “Viet Nam may adopt or maintain any measure with respect to the operation of a covered investment that is not in conformity with Article 2.3 (National Treatment); (h) …power transmission and/or distribution.” Both annexes allow Vietnam to require a potential member-country investor to use only Vietnamese domestic enterprises (majority-owned by Vietnamese nationals) in accomplishing the PPP project, if Vietnam so chooses. The EVIPA Annex is even broader than CPTPP by allowing “any measure” (regarding power transmission/distribution). It is also interesting to note that in EVFTA Appendix 8-B-1[5] (Specific commitments by Vietnam) Vietnam has agreed to virtually no restrictions on any construction companies or engineering services, including having a 100% member-country-owned commercial presence in Vietnam’s territory. In essence, CPTPP and EVFTA/IPA allow freer, fairer access to goods/services and investments; however, Vietnam can require any investor to utilize strictly Vietnamese resources regarding power or energy production and distribution. Most nations want to maintain national sovereignty and control of specific industries and resources they consider critical in supporting that sovereignty—that is not the issue here. This issue raised is one of regulatory uncertainties for investors.

These competing sections can cause consternation for a potential PPP investor. They may be able to complete the project for far less costs using their own member-country resources, but arbitrarily required at some point to utilize Vietnamese-owned companies that perhaps charge far more for the same good or service. The current draft PPP law is silent on this issue. PPP investors could be reassured, through contractual stability, of the guaranteed resources and services to be provided (and by whom) from the outset of the project. At a minimum, the draft PPP law should include a method for an investor to challenge a regulatory ruling or decision through an impartial, third party. While this issue might not derail a project, it could cause a qualified, reliable investor not to even want to bid a project; therefore, possibly driving the cost up or having a lower quality platform that will cost more in repair and maintenance in the long term. What the draft PPP law needs is to adopt the dispute settlement and resolution provisions of the CPTPP and EVFTA/IPA. In its current form, it does not mirror them.

Dispute Resolution Provision

Under Article 112 of the draft PPP law (dispute resolution) parties must use negotiation and conciliation first. This is the same as both CPTPP Chapter 28 and EVFTA Chapter 15/IPA Chapter 3. Continuing, a dispute involving a foreign investor (and between a State Agency) will be resolved through a Vietnamese arbitration organization or court, “unless otherwise agreed in the contract or unless otherwise stipulated in an international treaty of which Vietnam is a member.” If not stipulated in the contract, this means that if the foreign entity is a CPTPP or EUFTA/IPA member country, those agreements’ dispute chapters apply—maybe. Both agreements state that dispute resolution will be accomplished via mediation and arbitration for disputes generated under those agreements. There is no specific PPP language in the agreements; therefore, it will have to be proven that either of the agreements govern the project. This will add time and costs to the project, the government, the investor, and ultimately, the public.

Many PPP projects do not involve one, single foreign investor. There could be any number of various investor combinations to complete a specific project. A purely domestic, Vietnamese, single investor will be required to use Vietnamese arbitration or courts under Article 112—understandable. Any dispute between investors (state agency not involved) in which there is at least one (1) foreign investor will be resolved: “First, in Vietnamese court(s); then second, Vietnamese arbitrator(s); lastly, Foreign arbitrator(s).” Unless the foreign-investor here is a CPTPP/EVFTA member, or they have an international arbitration clause in their contract, there is no real option for the investor except for Vietnamese arbitration/courts.

The current draft PPP law’s Article 112 is more in line with general business transactions and not the magnitude of most PPP investments. They generally include multiple entities and financial vehicles/lenders, both foreign and domestic, ranging in the hundreds of millions to billions of USD. With the level of involvement regarding PPP projects, the draft PPP law should just state plainly that any dispute shall be resolved through international mediation and/or arbitration (unless stipulated otherwise in the contract). In effect, mirror the CPTPP and EVFTA/IPA Dispute Settlement Chapters. This will provide potential investors with the regulatory certainty they have been looking for. It will also alleviate any concerns around objectivity and neutrality for all parties. UNCITRAL stated in their UN guidelines for PPP in 2000, “…procedures should be established for handling disputes… (This is where arbitration should be a risk concession by the government…allowing international standards of the infrastructure sector to have an equal voice) [Emphasis added].”[6] Changing dispute resolution in the draft law to mirror the current trade agreements and UNCITRAL will help attract FDI for PPP infrastructure projects.

Summary

Vietnam needs to rely on the private sector to take their socio-economic growth to the next level. Government cannot satisfy the country’s requirements without it. Regulatory reform has been one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in satisfying the private sector’s concerns. From a statutory perspective, the CPTPP and EVFTA/IPA are able vehicles that give a wide berth for PPP projects to flourish. Within those landmark agreements, some conflicting areas do remain that can cause investor concern. From an operational perspective, government agencies need to streamline their processes to deliver services effectively under the laws and regulations (another major concern of investors). Eric Sidgwick, ADB country director for Vietnam, stated that Vietnam’s average disbursement rate is much lower than that of other recipients of the Asian Development Bank’s official development assistance (ODA) loans, largely due to cumbersome and time-consuming procedures.[7] While there is never a perfect solution for all parties, compromise is usually the most effective way to ensure buy-in from all involved. A way of alleviating investor’s concern over ambiguous and regulatory stability is to change the dispute resolution Article of the draft PPP law to mirror the already successful agreements of CPTPP and EVFTA/IPA.

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

THANK YOU!