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LAWYER IN VIETNAM DR. OLIVER MASSMANN KEY COMMENTS ON DRAFT PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP LAW DATED 5 MARCH 2020 (“PPP DRAFT”)

1. Positive:

– Eligible Sectors (Art. 5): business sectors, which are qualified for investment in PPP form, have been selectively considered and proposed, not as broad as the those under Decree 63/2018/ND-CP (“Decree 63”). This would help to concentrate the valuable resources and finance on efficient and necessary sectors. However, please refer to our notes on incompletion of this clause in the Negative Section as below.

– Language (Art. 34): language for selection of international investor may be in both Vietnamese and English.

– Step-in rights of lenders (Art. 55): Lenders have rights to take over the project and propose another investor to continue the project. This provision has addressed the constraints that inhibit cross-border financing will be essential for diversifying sources of funding for energy-sector investments. International financing can provide for both the electricity and midstream gas sectors in terms of longer tenors and fixed-interest rates, which domestic capital market cannot satisfy.

– Guarantee on Foreign Currency Conversion (Art. 82): it is positive that the PPP Draft still remains this guarantee regime, as the one under Decree 63. However, the scope and conditions to enjoy this are very limited and do not meet the expectation from the investors as discussed in the Negative Section as below.

– Revenue risk sharing (Art. 83): it is indeed a very bold proposal in the PPP Draft that enabling the State to share the revenue loss of investors, subject to certain conditions and qualifications. Though we have few comments on the scope of this mechanism as below. We highly appreciate that the drafter has tried to address one of current issues of PPP form, i.e., non bankability and high risk.

– Dispute Resolution (Art. 104): the relevant provision on dispute resolutions have been improved in comparison with those of Decree 63. In brief, it is crystal clear now disputes between investors involving at least a foreign investor and / or disputes between investors / PPP project company with foreign parties could be resolved by either local courts / arbitration and / or foreign or international arbitration. In terms of disputes between the state and investors / project company, the PPP Draft has in-principle required local courts / arbitration but enabled other agreement between the parties in the project contracts and / or otherwise provided by international treaties of Vietnam. This is a significant improvement as Vietnam has signed several major international treaties such as CPTPP and EVFTA. We give to your attention the advantage of some international treaties as below:

“The CPTPP and the EVFTA make it possible that foreign investors could sue Vietnam Government for its decisions according to the dispute settlement by arbitration rules. The violating party must take all necessary measures to promptly comply with the arbitral decision. In case of non-compliance, as in the WTO, the CPTPP and the EVFTA allow temporary remedies (compensation) at the request of the complaining party. The final arbitral award is binding and enforceable without any question from the local courts regarding its validity. This is an advantage for investors considering the fact that the percentage of annulled foreign arbitral awards in Vietnam remains relatively high for different reasons. It is crucial that foreign investors now could take advantage of the requirements under the CPTPP and the EVFTA (as also recognized by the PPP Draft) to enhance functionality of their PPP projects in Vietnam. In case these entities make wrongful decisions, foreign investors could take recourse to arbitration proceedings and have the arbitral awards fully enforced in Vietnam.”

2. Negative:

1. Art. 5 The scope of sectors eligible for PPP investment form is not crystal clear and need further guidance from the Government and Ministries. For example, in terms of power projects, in practice some major profile thermal power projects have been implemented in cooperation with the Government under the Build – Operate – Transfer (BOT) umbrella (a form of public private partnership (PPP), it appears that the Government would not offer this kind of treatment for renewable energy projects at large (except, perhaps in theory, for very large and prominent ones).

Foreign investors (most of them engaging small scale projects) do not prefer PPP structure for their power plant projects, due to complexity of this structure and the lack of clear guidance, especially feed-in-tariff and consequently bankability. However, on the contrary, BOT seems to be suitable for larger scale projects and often give investors a better position to negotiate with the Government on key project indicators at the outset, which may not be available in other investment platforms.

Recommendation: Consider clarification on the scope and scale of power projects eligible for PPP form. In addition, for large scale power projects, it is crucial to enable all sub-projects of a mega power project could be together invested in the PPP form. For example, a LNG-to-power project could only be efficiently invested with other sub-projects such as terminal, FSRU, pipelines, etc.

2. Art. 47 Lack of clear and bankable terms of PPP contract. It is critical that an international form of bankable PPP contract is provided in the PPP Draft. Other related transaction agreements could be further developed as agreed by the parties but bankable templates should be drafted and attached to the guideline for implementation of PPP Draft.

Recommendation Terms and conditions of PPP contract are too general and vague.

Considering to provide a bankable PPP contract template in the PPP Draft or in the guiding decree / circular for PPP Draft.

3. Art. 57 It is not reasonable for forcing governing law to be the Vietnamese law. Especially, Vietnam has signed several international treaties and in principle allowed rules of such international treaties to be applied in PPP projects.

It is an international norm and feasible for a foreign related transactions to be governed by foreign law of a third country (not Vietnam or investor’s country) to the extent certain specific areas / agreements must be in compliance with Vietnamese law such as land regime, taxes, etc.

Recommendation: Considering for the parties to agree on the governing law of a third country (not Vietnam or investor’s country, e.g., Singapore law) to the extent certain specific areas / agreements must be in compliance with Vietnamese law such as land regime, taxes, etc.

4. Art. 80 The investment incentives are underdeveloped and quite similar as those provided under Decree 63. This is a safe approach but it would confuse the investors on the incentives and how to enjoy them under the PPP Draft.

Recommendation: Considering not referring to other laws and regulations on determination of investment, land and tax incentives for PPP forms.

For example, at least the PPP Draft should determine whether the PPP project could enjoy incentives such as an encouraged investment project or special encouraged investment project, etc.

5. Art.82 The conditions for foreign currency balance is very limited. As discussed above, only large scale projects prefer and may satisfy conditions of PPP investment forms. Thus, the scope for application of this foreign currency balance would need to be extended to all PPP projects, or at least for power projects and grid projects.

Foreign currency balance ensuring scheme is only applicable to projects subject to investment policy decision of the Nation Assembly and Prime Minister. In addition, there is a ceiling of 30% to be imposed.

In practice, several projects could not reach financial closure as scheduled because they cannot agree with the government about the convertibility of profits earned in local currency into foreign exchange for repatriation and payment for input commodities (coal, gas).

The demand for foreign currency associated with BOT projects and associated tariff revenues to be covered in the energy sector could escalate dramatically through 2030, up to US$23 billion/annually by 2030.

Recommendation: Considering to extend the scope eligible for foreign currency balance.

Foreign exchange convertibility has been a concern among investors. In the absence of such government convertibility guarantees, there is limited availability of currency hedging instruments that would allow private investors to cover currency risks through the market. The assurance on the availability of foreign currency shall definitely facilitate investment procedures. The ceiling of 30% should be removed as well.

Government guarantees for other obligations such as off-taker obligations and obligations towards infrastructure, payment obligations (including deemed commissioning and termination payments), etc. depending on projects.

6. Art. 83 Revenue risk sharing mechanism: (i) the investors, PPP project enterprises shall share with the State 50% of the increase between actual revenue and committed revenue in the contract; and (ii) the State shall share with the investors, the PPP project enterprises 50% of the decrease between actual revenue and committed revenue in the contract if, inter alia, the project does not use state’s budget and the cause of the loss is the change of policies, laws.

Recommendation: The risk sharing mechanism should be further developed to cover all other risks that may arise during the implementation of the PPP project (e.g., force majeure, change in law, price fluctuation, low selling price, etc.)

7. N/A Long negotiation process: it is due to several issues: (i) no clear list of approvals for the Project to be ready-to-build and / or operation, (ii) land site clearance and compensation process is still very challenging, (iii) not all decisions / procedures having a clear time-limit.

Recommendation: Recommending to provide all time-limits for all decisions / procedures and it is deemed to be provided if the state authority fails to issue such decisions. In addition, it is recommended to have a basic ready-to-build approval list for the investors to pursue and operate the PPP projects.

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

VIETNAM – WIND ENERGY BREAKING NEWS – FEED IN TARIFF COULD BE EXTENDED – WHAT YOU MUST KNOW:


FEED IN TARIFF
(“FIT”) scheme for wind power may be extended until the end of 2023 if it is approved by the Prime Minister. On April 09th, 2020, MoIT sent the Government Office the Official Letter no. 2491/BCT-DL to propose to extend FIT scheme for wind power. The proposed content is as follows:

1. Extending FIT scheme for wind power until 31/12/2023.

2. Assigning MoIT to calculate and propose a new FIT price for the projects COD after 01 November 2021 until 31 December 2023.

3. Competitive tender and auction scheme shall be applied after 2023.

The reason for this proposal is the predicted shortage of power for Southern Vietnam from 2021 to 2025 because many thermal projects are behind schedule, thus the need for wind power from 2021 to 2025 is predicted from 6,030 MW to 11,630 MW.

This extended FIT scheme, if approved by the Prime Minister, shall be a lucrative opportunity for investors in the following years.

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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.
Thank you!

VIETNAM – COVID 19 – IMPLEMENTATION OF LAWS NOT UNIFIED IN ALL PROVINCES – On the continuity of business during COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization, causing huge impact on people’s lives, families and communities. Organizations are under certain concerns about the continuity of their business as how long the pandemic lasts for, a possible suspension order, unwanted contract terminations, force majeure issues, reduction of price, etc.

We understand your concerns and we trust the latest update on the Government’s instruction on the business continuity might provide you with some useful information at this stage.

1. The businesses entitled to continue operation

(“Directive 2061”) to instruct on the business that can continue operating during social distancing period i.e. until 15 April 2020 (and a possible extension to 30 April 2020 as recommended by the Ministry of Health of Vietnam), which includes:
• Factories, manufacturing units;
• Transport works, construction;
• Businesses providing essential services and essential goods, i.e. foods, medicine, petrol, oil, electricity, water, fuel, etc.);
• Education units, banks, treasury, services directly connecting to banks and auxiliary to businesses (i.e. notary offices, lawyers,registry of secured transactions, etc.), post, telecommunications, auxiliary services for transportation, import and export, health examinations and treatmenst, funeral, etc.
The above “etc.” phrase literally indicates that the list units permitted to operate is not exhaustive.
Directive 2061 allows each province in Vietnam to implement the PM’s instruction in their own way by saying the chairman of each province shall further instruct on this. Unfortunately, the implementation of the Directive is not unified across Vietnam territory.

2. The implementation of Directive 2061 in some areas

2.1. Hanoi City
Hanoi took a strict approach from the start of the pandemic prevention in its Directive 05 on 31 March 2020. Hanoi PC ordered non-essential shops and service-providers to suspend their activities.
On April 2020, the Department of Justice of Hanoi issued Document 925/STP-PBGDPL clarifying a number of measures to cement the social distancing requests. So far, Hanoi mainly focus on resitricting operations of the restaurants, consumers’ goods or other public places only.

2.2. Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh took a totally different approach, that it issued a Scoring System under Decision no.1203/QD-BCD. The Score System comprises a set of sub-indexes which does not base on the business lines, but based on the quantity of workers, the density in workshop, workers using sanitizers and wearing masks, etc. If the score of an entity is low or average, its operation can carry on, otherwise it must suspend.

2.3. Hai Duong Province

Hai Duong province takes a similar approach as Hanoi City. However, it has more regulation that factories do not carry out 3rd shifts. Hai Duong PC also requires a submission of a written commitment from all businesses in the province.

3. Required measures for businesses continuing its operation

Although the approach is different in each area, the required measures to ensure the safety and prevent the epidemic seems unified. The fortunate business which falls within the scope of being permitted to continue must implement the follows:
• Requiring employees to wear masks and equipping enough facility to prevent and control the epidemic as advised and recommended by health authorities;
• Requiring employees to conduct health report and comply with restrictions on moving, contact and communication;
• Suspension of unurgent activities, reduction of the concentration of employees;
• Organization and management of the transportation for employees to and from work (if any) must ensure the prevention of infection.
In case of incapable to ensure the above measures, business must suspend.
We trust some of the above info is useful for you at this stage. If you are not clear if your business in your respective Province can be affected by any of the above measures and requirements, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Please do not hesitate to contact the author 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.
Thank you!

3 Things About Vietnam’s Updated Legal Framework for Biomass Power Projects

Despite abundantly available biomass feedstock of agricultural origin, ranging from sugar bagasse, wood chip to rice husks and stalks, biomass as a source of renewable energy does not seem to have received the same amount of attention from the government of Vietnam as solar or wind power. It took the government more than six years to acknowledge the modest results of the current incentives package and adopt measures to give a new push to the development of biomass power plants. This was done on 5 March 2020 when the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 08/2020/QD-TTg (“Decision 08“) amending Decision No. 24/2014/QD-TTg dated 24 March 2014 (“Decision 24“) on support mechanisms for the development of biomass power projects in Vietnam. Decision 08 introduces a number of important changes which will take effect on 25 April 2020.

Increase of the Feed-in-Tariffs (“FiT”)

The FiT for electricity produced by combined heat and power (“CHP”) biomass power plants will increase from USD 5.8 cents per kWh to USD 7.03 cents (VND 1,634) per kWh.

The government has also abandoned the use of avoided cost schedules (calculated based on the cost of electricity produced by coal-fired power plants) published annually for determination of the electricity purchase price from non-CHP biomass electricity producers. The FiT for these projects is set at USD 8.47 cents (VND 1,968).

The FiTs are exclusive of value-added tax and are adjusted according to USD/VND exchange rate. The new FiTs will be also benefit the biomass power projects which have started operating before 5 March 2020 for the remaining terms of their power purchase agreements (“PPAs”).

Technical standards for electricity generation equipment

Decision 08 introduces a new requirement to comply with technical standards applicable to biomass electricity generation equipment and quality norms applicable to electricity produced by biomass power plants. Similar requirements already exist in recent regulations applicable to solar and wind power projects. The technical standards and norms will be elaborated by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (“MOIT”) which is also responsible for the issuance of a new model PPA for biomass projects.

Possibility of alternative off-takers

Under Decision 08 Electricity of Vietnam (“EVN”) (directly or through its authorised group entities) remains the sole off-taker of the electricity generated using biomass. However, the new decision also opens the door to “organisations assuming the rights and obligations” of EVN (or its relevant group entities) to become biomass electricity off-takers. This new development is in line with the government’s road-map for the liberalisation of Vietnam’s electricity markets (wholesale and then retail) by 2025. It is not clear whether this would improve the bankability of biomass PPAs, since EVN, as a State-owned enterprise, still enjoys strong government support while such backing may not be available to other off-takers in the future.

The possibility of selling electricity produced by biomass power plants directly to end users is not contemplated by the government at this stage. A recently published draft regulation on pilot Direct PPAs does not seem to include biomass power projects.

The hope is that above changes will make biomass power projects more attractive for investors. Whether the government’s target to increase the share of electricity produced from biomass to 2.1 percent of the total generated electricity by 2030 set out in the Revised Power Development Master Plan VII is achievable still depends a great deal on the new biomass PPA and technical requirements for biomass power projects to be issued by the MOIT in the coming months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

EU-VIETNAM FREE TRADE AGREEMENT AND INVESTMENT PROTECTION AGREEMENT – MOST LIBERALIZED MARKET ACCESS FOR SERVICE SECTORS AND UNMATCHED LEGAL CERTAINTY – LATEST UPDATE – WHAT YOU MUST KNOW:

I. OVERVIEW

On the 2nd of December 2015, after almost three years and 14 rounds of negotiation, President Donald Tusk, President Jean-Claude Juncker and Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Tan Dung announced the conclusion of the negotiations on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). The EVFTA is a new-generation free trade agreement between Vietnam and the EU. On the 26th of June 2018, the EVFTA was split into two separate agreements: the Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA). In August 2018, the EU and Vietnam completed the legal review of the EVFTA and the EVFTA requires ratification by the European Council as well as the consent of the European Parliament, while the EVIPA required additional ratification by parliaments of each individual EU Member State.

On the 30th of June 2019, EU Commissioner for Trade Mrs. Cecilia Malmstrom, together with the Romanian Minister for Business Mr. Stefan-Radu Oprea, representing the EU, signed the EVFTA and EVIPA in Hanoi, together with H.E. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Vietnamese Government leaders. The Prime Minister expressed his belief that the European Parliament, parliaments of EU Member States, and the Vietnamese National Assembly will soon ratify the EVFTA and EVIPA. Both Trade and Investment agreements were endorsed by the European Parliament on the 12th of February. The EVFTA was approved by the EU Council on 30th of March 2020, thus the implementation of the EVFTA is therefore imminent if the Vietnamese National Assembly gives its approval at its May session, meaning that an entry into force early this summer is possible for the EVFTA. It will take more time for the EVIPA to enter into force because this agreement is subject to the endorsement of the Member States’ parliaments.

Both agreements are expected to bring significant advantages for enterprises, employees, and consumers in both the EU and Vietnam. Vietnam’s GDP is set to increase by 10-15 percent while exports are predicted to rise by 30-40 percent over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, the real wages of skilled labourers could rise by up to 12 percent, with salaries of common workers increasing by 13 percent. Once the EVFTA has entered into force, and once Government policies and institutional reforms begin to take effect, Vietnam’s business activities will boom. However, challenges 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.

II. MARKET ACCESS FOR GOODS AND SERVICES

1. 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 approximately 446 million people and a total GDP of US$13,918 billion.

Meanwhile, exporters and investors from the EU will have further opportunities to access to 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 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.

2. Market access for goods

Nearly all customs duties – over 99 percent 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 percent 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 percent of the tariff lines and 71 percent of its trade value for goods imported from Vietnam immediately at the entry into force of the EVFTA. Within 7 years from the effective date of the EVFTA, more than 99 percent of the tariff lines will have been eliminated for Vietnam. This is a wider reduction compared with the 95 percent of the tariff lines that the former TPP countries offered 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 such agreements, since Vietnam and the EU are considered to be two supporting and complementary markets. In other words, 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, aircraft and high-quality 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 other 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 about 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.

3. Market access for EU service providers

Although Vietnam’s WTO commitments are used as a basis for the services commitments in the EVFTA, 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 under EVFTA, 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.

III. GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT

Vietnam has one of the highest ratios of public investment to GDP in the world (39 percent 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 EVFTA 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 Bao Dau Thau – Public Procurement Newspaper – and information on the procurement system at muasamcong.mpi.gov.vn and the official gazette in a timely manner. It will also allow sufficient time for suppliers to prepare and submit requests for participation and responsive tenders and maintain the confidentiality of tenders. The EVFTA 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 EVFTA Government Procurement rules:

Criteria – EVFTA

IV. INVESTMENT DISPUTE SETTLEMENT

Investment disputes now could be settled under the EVIPA. 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 way. This is also to ensure consistent rulings in similar cases, thus making the dispute settlement more predictable. The EVIPA 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 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 EVIPA (please refer to further comments in the Legal Sector Committee’s chapter on Judicial Recourse).

V. CONCLUSION

The EVFTA and EVIPA, once ratified by Vietnam, 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 making continuous efforts and progress to meet the high standards set out in the two FTAs and is currently offering greater opportunities for foreign businesses in preparation for the FTAs’ 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 the author Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions or want to know more details on the above. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.
Thank you!

VIETNAM – SOLAR POWER – NEW FEED IN TARIFFS – NEW GUIDANCE FOR SOLAR ENERGY DEVELOPMENT – WHAT YOU MUST KNOW:

It has been 10 month waiting after Decision 11/QDD-TTg expired, now the Prime Minister has issued Decision 13/2020 on the incentive mechanism for solar power development. We would like to update the very new key issues as follows:

1. FIT scheme

Following notification No. 402/TB-VPCP of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, now FIT scheme is confirmed that it only applies for the following projects:

– For grid-connected projects: the projects that: (i) has in-principle investment decision before 23/11/2019, and (ii) COD of the whole or part(s) of project from 01/7/2019 to 31/12/2020.
– For grid-connected projects in Ninh Thuan: (i) the projects that were included into power development plans, (ii) COD before 01/01/2021, and (iii) the accumulated capacity not exceeding 2,000 MW.
It is noted that regarding grid-connected projects, FIT scheme is only applied for projects with solar cell’s capacity more than 16% or module more than 15%.

– For rooftop projects: the projects that are brought into operation, generate electricity and have electricity meter readings confirmed from 01/7/2019 to 31/12/2020.
The term of FIT scheme for the above projects shall be applied for 20 years from COD.

2. FIT2

FIT2 are as follows:
– Floating solar energy projects: UScent 7.69
– Ground mounted solar energy projects: UScent 7.09
– Rooftop energy solar energy projects: UScent 8.38

For Ninh Thuan province, grid-connected solar power projects that (ii) COD before 01/01/2021, and (iii) the accumulated capacity not exceeding 2,000 MW will be applied the FiT of UScent 9.35.

3. Competitive mechanism

The projects that do not fall with the scope of FIT scheme shall be subject to competitive scheme.

4. COD definition

COD of the whole or part(s) of the grid-connected project is defined as the date that the whole or part(s) of the project is ready to sell electricity to the buyer and satisfy the follows:
a) Has finished the initial tests for the whole or part(s) of the construction;
b) Has been issued electricity operation license;
c) Has agreed to the index of the electricity meter in order to make payment.

5. Rooftop project definition

Rooftop projects are the projects have photovoltaic panels installed on the rooftop of the construction and have the capacity not exceeds 01 MW, connect to the grids which is less than 35kV.

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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.

Crunch time for PM’s decision on solar FIT2

In a 6 Feb 2020 report to the PM, the MOIT shares views received from the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Finance on the long-awaited new FIT regime for solar projects. Interestingly, a new option has emerged: that FIT 2 could apply to all projects approved in principle prior to 23 November 2019 and that reach COD by 31 December 2020. While December 2020 is still very close and thus a practical limit, this option is still markedly broader than the MOIT’s earlier proposal that only projects that had commenced construction (with very narrow criteria of what that means) prior to 23 November 2019 (and reach COD by 31 December 2020) should be entitled to FIT 2.

If the PM accepts this new option it would significantly increase the number of already-approved solar projects potentially eligible for FIT 2. that would be welcome news for approx. 40 projects currently in FIT limbo.

With this document, it appears that all involved ministries and other stakeholders such as EVN have been formally consulted and their opinions formally shared with the PM. The ball is firmly in the PM’s court now.

See the original text of the 6 Feb report here: FIT 2

For more information about Vietnam’s energy sector, please contact Giles at GTCooper@duanemorris.com or any of the lawyers in our office listing. Giles is co-General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC and branch director of Duane Morris’ HCMC office.

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.