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ベトナム物流規制~新政令第163号~大きな変更点なし

メディア報道と異なり、ベトナムの新物流規制は外国人投資家に対して市場を更に開放せず、新たにeコマース規制の順守要件を明記しています。

2018年2月20日施行のロジスティクス・サービスに関する政令第163/2017/ND-CP号により、旧政令第140/2007/ND-CP号が効力を失います。多くの外国人投資家は物流分野において、更なる明確化及び市場アクセスを望んでいました。少なくても書面上、新政令第163号は外国人投資家に新たな権利を付与するものではなく、実務上不明確な点が新しく出てくるかもしれません。一方、最も興味深い新条項は、物流プロセスのデジタル化に影響を及ぼす可能性があります。

ベトナムがWTOに加盟した2007年に発行された政令第140号は、ベトナム基準からみれば、非常に古い規制です。その後、法改正が大分進み、物流部門の多くの事業活動を含む、ほとんどのサービス部門が外国人投資家に開放されました。新政令第163号のいくつかの要点を以下に述べます。

I「ロジスティクス」の再定義

外国人投資家(及び外国投資を受け入れたいベトナム企業)は、ベトナムで営む予定の各事業活動について外資規制などの条件が適用されるかどうかを細かく確認しなければなりません。旧政令第140号は、2005年の商法第233条を参照し、「ロジスティクス」を定義していました。新政令第163号の3条は、以下のロジスティクス・サービスを規制しています。

政令第163号3条におけるロジスティクス・サービス

  1. コンテナ積降サービス(空港でのサービスを除く)
  2. 海運補助サービスの一環としてのコンテナヤード・サービス
  3. 全ての運送手段の補助サービスの一環としてのコンテナ・サービス
  4. 配達サービス
  5. 貨物運送代理サービス
  6. 税関仲介サービス(通関サービスを含む)
  7. 次の活動を含むその他のサービス:運送証券検査、貨物運送仲介サービス、貨物鑑定、サンプリング採取及び重量判定、貨物の受取、受入サービス、運送証書準備サービス
  8. 貨物の保管、回収、仕分けの管理や貨物の分類、配送を含む卸売及び小売補助サービス
  9. 海運サービスの一環としての貨物運送サービス
  10. 内陸水路運送サービスの一環としての貨物運送サービス
  11. 鉄道運送サービスの一環としての貨物運送サービス
  12. 道路運送サービスの一部としての貨物運送サービス
  13. 空輸サービス
  14. 複合運送サービス
  15. 技術分析、検定サービス
  16. その他の運送サポートサービス
  17. 物流サービス提供者が商法の基本原理に従って顧客との合意に基づく提供するその他のサービス

「配達サービス」及び「その他の運送サービス」に関して、第3条に詳細が定義されていません。政令の作成者はおそらく、ベトナムのWTOサービス・セクター・コミットメント(WTOSSC)で使われている国連の中央生産物分類(CPC)コードと比較できるベトナム標準産業分類システム(VSIC)を参照することを意図していました。例えば、VSIC 5230の「配達サービス」には、「貨物運送サービス」でカバーされていない郵便物および小包の配送が含まれます。 VSIC 5320 は、「速配サービス」を含むWTOSSCの「クーリエサービス」(CPC 7512 courier services)に類似しています。新政令第163号の「配達サービス」及びWTOSSCの「クーリエサービス」は外国人保有比率の制限がありません。これは外資系宅配便業者にとって、良いニュースでしょう。

II.外国人保有比率の制限(FOL)について変更なし

WTOSSC及び旧政令第140号には、FOL及び市場開放のスケジュールが既に規定されていました。新政令第163号には、この点について変更点がみられません。また、新政令は様々な貨物関連サービスのFOLなどの基本条件を定めていますが、旅客運送サービスについては何も語っていません。

以下の表は、物流部門における主要な外国人保有比率の上限をまとめたものです。簡略化した表であり、それらの業務に追加的条件が適用されます。その上、外国人投資家には更なる条件が適用されます。例えば、最大49%の外国資本を持つ海上貨物運送会社は、ベトナムで船舶を登録し、ベトナム国旗を掲げられますが、非ベトナム人の船員は最大3分の1のみとなります。船長及び第一副船長はベトナム国民ではなければなりません。政令第163号の他の条件と同様に、これは新しいものではなく、既にWTOSSCで定められていました。

ベトナムの物流部門における外国人保有比率の制限(FOL)

WTOSSC 政令第163号
CPC サービス分類 FOL FOL
742 倉庫 100%
748 貨物運送代理(貨物輸送サービスを含む) 100%
749 貨物所有者に代わり、船荷証券検査、貨物仲介、貨物検査、サンプリング及び計量、商品の入荷受取サービス、運送書類作成 99% 99%
7211 海運 (国内の顧客輸送) 49%
7212 (a) 海運 (国内の貨物輸送)ベトナム国旗船舶 49% 49%
7212 (b) 海運(国内の貨物輸送)外国船舶 100% 100%
7221 内陸水路運送(顧客運送) 49%
7222 内陸水路運送(貨物運送) 49% 49%
7111 鉄道運送(顧客運送) Unbound
7112 鉄道運送(貨物運送) 49%
7121 + 7122 道路運送(顧客運送) 49%
7123 道路運送(貨物運送) 51% 51%
No CPC 通関 99%
No CPC コンテナヤード 100%
7411 コンテナ積降(空港でのサービスを除く) 50% 50%
621, 61111, 6113, 6121, 622, 631 + 632 流通(輸出入、販売代理店、卸売、小売) 100%

IIIeコマース条項、物流サービスのデジタル化

政令第163号で新たに挙げられていることの1つに、ベトナム電子商取引規制の順守要件があります。第 4条2項により、インターネット、モバイル、またはその他の「オープン・ネットワーク」を介して電子的に業務の一部または全部を行う物流事業は、電子商取引(eコマース)の規制に従う必要があります。ベトナムの主要なeコマース規制は、政令第52/2013/ND-CP号です。政令第52号では、eコマース・サービス事業者の商工省への通知または登録が義務付けられています。eコマース事業者は、政令第52条及びその他の法律と規制に従い、個人情報及び消費者の利益を保護しなければなりません。しかし、これらのeコマース要件も、政令第163号の施行前にeコマース活動を行っていた物流サービスにも既に適用されていたと考えられます。

第4条2項は非常に広義に解釈され、例えば、Eメール、メッセージ・アプリ、ウェブ会議、企業のウェブサイト、ソーシャルネットワーク(SNS)のあらゆる業務通信にも適用される可能性が当然あります。しかし、第4条2項が「オープン・ネットワーク」を利用するデジタル・サプライチェーンやスマート倉庫技術などの最新のデジタル社内プロセスにも適用されるかどうかが課題です。「オープン・ネットワーク」がベトナム法で定義されていらず、様々な文献も、その意味について意見が分かれています。例えば、ある技術的な記事により、「オープン・ネットワークは今日・・・ユーザーの選択」を意味するとし、法的観点からはあまり参考にはなりません。IT専門家が「オープン・ネットワーク」の意味ついてにはっきりしないかぎり、物流活動の規制及びそのライセンス発行などを担当しているベトナム当局の官僚も同様に混乱し、4条2項の解釈が様々で不明確になるになる可能性が大きいです。

【結論】新政令第163号は、ベトナムの物流部門における外国人投資家の市場アクセス権を拡大せず、eコマース規制を遵守する明確な要件を導入しています。

詳細につきましては、オットー マンフレッド 倉雄(motto@duanemorris.com) 、又はドウェイン・モリス法律事務所で通常連絡を取られている弁護士へご連絡ください。

〈ご注意〉こちらの記事は皆様に情報をお届けする目的でのみ作成・掲載しておりますので、法的なアドバイスとして提供・構成することを目的としておりません。詳細につきましては、当事務所の注意書きをご一読下さい。

Vietnam Logistics Law – New Decree 163 – Nothing to See Here?

Despite media reports to the contrary, Vietnam’s new logistics regulation does not further open up the market to foreign investment but newly requires compliance with e-commerce regulations.

On 20 February 2018, Government Decree No. 163/2017/ND-CP on logistics services will replace the old Decree 140/2007/ND-CP. Many foreign investors had hoped for further clarification and market access in the logistics sector. The new Decree 163 does not grant new rights to foreign investors, at least on paper, and may even introduce new uncertainties in practice. While the most interesting new provision could turn out to affect the digitalization of logistics processes.

Issued in 2007, just when Vietnam acceded to the WTO, Decree 140 is ancient for Vietnamese law standards. The law has moved on since then, as Vietnam opened most service sectors to foreign investors, including many (but not all) business activities in the logistics sector. A few points on Decree 163 are outlined below.

I. “Logistics” redefined

Foreign investors (and Vietnamese businesses seeking foreign investment) must closely review each business activity they plan to conduct in Vietnam to see if foreign ownership limitations and other conditions apply. The old Decree 140 defined “logistics” with reference to Article 233 of the Commercial Law 2005. Article 3 of the new Decree 163 defines and regulates the following “logistics services”:

Logistics services under Article 3 of Decree 163

  1. Container handling services, except for provision of such services at airports.
  2. Container warehousing services as part of maritime transport support services.
  3. Warehousing services as part of support services for all modes of transport.
  4. Delivery services.
  5. Freight transport agency services.
  6. Customs brokerage services (including customs clearance services).
  7. Other services including the following activities: bill of lading inspection, freight brokerage services, cargo inspection, sampling and weighing services; goods receipt and acceptance services; and transport documentation preparation services.
  8. Wholesaling support services and retailing support services including activities being management of goods in storage, collection, sorting and classification of goods, and goods delivery.
  9. Freight transport services as part of maritime transport services.
  10. Freight transport services as part of inland waterway transport services.
  11. Freight transport services as part of rail transport services.
  12. Freight transport services as part of road transport services.
  13. Air transport services.
  14. Multimodal transport services.
  15. Technical analysis and testing services.
  16. Other transport support services.
  17. Other services provided by logistics service providers and as agreed with their clients in accordance with the basic principles of the Commercial Law.

“Delivery services” and “other transport services” are not further defined in Article 3. The lawmakers probably intended that one refer to the Vietnam Standard Industrial Classification System (VSIC), which is comparable to the United Nation’s Central Product Classification (CPC) codes used in Vietnam’s WTO Service Sector Commitments (WTOSSC) . For example, “delivery services” under VSIC 5230 include delivery of mail and parcels not covered by “freight transportation services.” VSIC 5320 is similar to WTOSSC’s “courier services” (CPC 7512), which includes “express delivery services.” There is no foreign ownership limit in Decree 163 for “delivery services,” nor for “courier services” under the WTOSSC – that’s good news for foreign courier services providers.

II. No changes to foreign ownership limitations (FOL)

WTOSSC and Decree 140 already defined FOL and their respective schedules. Decree 163 does not change anything. Decree 163 addresses FOL of various freight related services but is silent on passenger transportation services.

The below chart summarizes the main foreign ownership caps in the logistics sector. It is a simplified chart, and additional conditions apply to those business lines. Further conditions apply to foreign investors. For example, maritime freight transport companies with up to 49% foreign ownership may register ships in Vietnam and fly the Vietnamese flag, but only up to one third of the crew members may be non-Vietnamese; the captain and the first officer must be Vietnamese citizens. Like other conditions in Decree 163, this is nothing new and was already set forth in the WTOSSC.

Vietnam: Foreign Ownership Limitations (FOL) in the Logistics Sector

WTOSSC Decree 163
CPC Service Description FOL FOL
742 Storage and Warehouse 100%
748 Freight transport agency (incl. freight forwarding services) 100%
749 Bill auditing; freight brokerage; freight inspection, weighing and sampling; freight receiving and acceptance; transportation document preparation on behalf of cargo owners 99% 99%
7211 Maritime transport (Passengers; less cabotage) 49%
7212 (a) Maritime transport (Freight; less cabotage) – joint-venture fleet flying Vietnamese flag 49% 49%
7212 (b) Maritime transport (Freight; less cabotage) – foreign fleet 100% 100%
7221 Internal waterways transport (Passengers) 49%
7222 Internal waterways transport (Freight) 49% 49%
7111 Rail transport (Passengers) Unbound
7112 Rail transport (Freight) 49%
7121 + 7122 Road transport (Passengers) 49%
7123 Road transport (Freight) 51% 51%
No CPC Custom clearance 99%
No CPC Container station and depot 100%
7411 Container handling (except at airports) 50% 50%
621, 61111, 6113, 6121, 622, 631 + 632 Distribution (import/export, commission agents, wholesale, retail) 100%

III. New e-commerce provision – digitalization of logistics services

One thing that is new in Decree 163 is its express requirement to comply with Vietnam’s e-commerce regulations. Article 4.2 provides that a logistics business conducting part of or its entire business electronically over the Internet, mobile or other “open networks” must comply with e-commerce regulations. Vietnam’s main e-commerce regulation is Decree 52/2013/ND-CP. Decree 52 requires e-commerce service providers to either notify or register with the Ministry of Industry and Trade. E-commerce providers must also protect personal information and consumer interest in accordance with Decree 52 and other laws and regulations. Arguably, though, these e-commerce requirements were already applicable to logistics services that conducted e-commerce activities before Decree 163.

Article 4.2 is very broad and could obviously apply to any business communications over e-mail, messaging apps, web-conferencing, company websites, and social networking sites – just to name few. The question is whether Article 4.2 will also apply to new internal, digital enterprise processes, such as digital supply chain and smart warehousing technologies that utilize “open networks.” Vietnamese law does not define “open networks,” and various literature about the topic is inconclusive as to what it actually means. For instance, one tech article concludes that today “open network” means “user choice” – which is not very helpful from a legal perspective. If IT specialists disagree on the meaning of “open networks,” the various Vietnamese authorities involved in regulating and licensing logistics activities are likely to be confused as well and could interpret Article 4.2 in various, uncertain ways.

Bottom line: The new Decree 163 does not expand market access rights of foreign investors in Vietnam’s logistics sector, but it introduces an explicit requirement to comply with e-commerce regulations.

For more information , please contact Manfred Otto at MOtto@duanemorris.com or any other lawyer you are regularly communicating with at Duane Morris.

Disclaimer: This post has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. Each case should be analyzed individually with the support of competent legal counsel. For more information, please see the firm’s full disclaimer.

VIETNAM – BOOM TIME – The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement now becomes the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership – What is next?

 

Overview on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) – now the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

The TPP was originally known as the Trans- Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership concluded in 2006 among Singapore, New Zealand, Chile and Brunei (P-4 agreement) as a means to promote trade liberalization in the Asia- Pacific Region. As its name indicates, the original purpose of the agreement was only to address economic issues. As the number of participating countries in the P-4 agreement increased, starting with the United States in September 2008 and other countries to follow being Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Canada, Mexico and Japan until July 2013, the agreement is agreed to be “a comprehensive, next-generation regional agreement that liberalizes trade and investment and addresses new and traditional trade issues and 21st-century challenges” by TPP Trade ministers. In June 2015, the United States approved the trade promotion authority for President Obama. The Agreement finally becomes as it is today through tough negotiation rounds, while the last round in Atlanta in September 2015 was considered the most intensive one. The TPP was already concluded on 06 October 2015. However, in January 2017, right after President Trump took his office, the United States formally expressed its withdrawal from the agreement, leaving other 11 parties with the decision to continue the agreement without the United States or not. In November 2017, during APEC meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam, ministers from 11 countries decided to push ahead with the TPP with its new name – CPTPP with only 20 items suspended out of an around 5000-page document, mainly in the Intellectual Property chapter.

CPTTP will help Vietnam make good use of international cooperation opportunities, balance relationships with key markets, approach larger markets including Japan and Canada, boost import-export, reduce import deficit, and attract foreign investment. In addition, CPTTP will also help Vietnam’s economy allocate its resources more effectively, enabling active supports to the processes of restructuring, innovation and improving regulations, and improve administrative reforms.

What makes CPTPP the template for next-generations trade agreements – What are beyond the WTO?

Freer trade zone

Commitments in Trade in goods

Tariff and non-tariff barriers are reduced and removed substantially across all trade in services and goods under the CPTPP. Import tariffs are reduced for 100% goods traded among member states, with more than 90% being eliminated immediately when the Agreement takes effect. The CPTPP also covers issues which have never been addressed in the WTO, including export duties, import duties for re-manufactured goods, market access for re-furbished goods, stricter regulations on import and export licensing, monopolies and goods in transit.

Lower tariff barriers from the CPTPP will give Vietnam greater access to large consumer markets in Japan, Canada and Australia. The potential positive effect on trade could be transformative, with estimates that the CPTPP will boost Vietnam’s exports by over 37% until 2025.

Commitments in Trade in services and Investment

All 11 member states give consent to a liberalized trade in this area. More sectors are opened in the CPTPP compared with the WTO, such as telecommunications, distribution and manufacturing sectors.

In addition, besides incorporating basic WTO principles (national treatment (NT), most-favored nation treatment (MFN), market access, and local presence), the CPTPP takes a negative approach, meaning that their markets are fully open to service suppliers from other CPTPP Parties, except otherwise indicated in their commitments (i.e, non-conforming measures). In order to make such reservations, the member state must prove the necessity of such preservation and negotiate with other member states. If approved, the non-conforming measures are only limited to such list, except for measures in certain sensitive sectors which are included in a separate list. Member states are only allowed to adopt policies that are better than what they commit (ratchet principle). The CPTPP also includes obligations on removal of performance requirements (i.e., no conditions on local content requirements, export conditions, use of certain technology, location of the investment project, etc.) and reasonable requirements on senior management and board of directors. Notably, the CPTPP Chapter on Investment for the first time makes it very clear and transparent concerning the MFN principle, that countries operating in multi-state regime must give foreign investors the best investment conditions of all states, regardless of the state where the investment takes place. Investors are also allowed to petition against the Government from the investment registration stage.

Textiles

Textiles are among Vietnam’s core negotiating sectors. According to suggestions by the United States, negotiations on textiles were conducted separately from negotiations on market access for other goods. To be qualified for CPTPP preferential tariff treatment, the CPTPP applies the yarn-forward principle, meaning textile products must be produced in CPTPP countries from yarn forward. However, the CPTPP includes exceptions that allow (i) certain materials to be sourced from outside CPTPP (“Short supply list”), (ii) certain manufacturing phases (for example, dying, weaving, etc.) to be conducted outside CPTPP; and (iii) one country to be able to use non-CPTPP materials in exchange for its export of certain textile goods to another country.

Government procurement

The CPTPP makes a list of government entities and agencies whose procurement of a particular̉ goods and services at a particular amount must be subject to public tender. This chapter includes NT and MFN principles, removes tender conditions favoring local tenders such as using local goods or local suppliers, conditions on technology transfer or two-way trade and investment, etc. These rules require all parties, especially Vietnam, in the context of China’s bidders predominantly win the bids with cheap offer price but low-quality services, to reform their bidding procedures and protect their own interests by disqualifying tenders with poor performance and low capacity.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

The CPTPP aims at protecting investors and their investment in the host country by introducing requirements on non-discrimination; fair and equitable treatment; full protection and security; the prohibition of expropriation that is not for public purpose, without due process, or without compensation; the free transfer of funds related to investments; and the freedom to appoint senior management positions regardless of nationality. For the first time investors may sue the Government for its violation of investment-related commitments.

CPTPP also includes procedures for arbitration as means of settling disputes between investors and the host state. It covers new provisions compared with existing agreements such as transparency in arbitral proceedings, disclosure of filings and arbitral awards, and participation of interested non-disputing parties to make amicus curiae submissions to a tribunal. Arbitral awards are final, binding and fully enforceable in CPTPP countries.

Application of the CPTPP and older/ existing agreements

Member states of the CPTPP acknowledge existing rights and obligations of each member under existing international agreements to which all CPTPP member states are parties (for example, the WTO Agreement, NAFTA, or bilateral agreements) or at least two member states are parties. In case there is any consistency between a provision of the CPTPP and a provision of another agreement to which at least two CPTPP member states are parties, these parties will consult with each other to reach a mutually satisfactory solution. Please note that the case where an agreement provides more favourable treatment of goods, services, investments or persons than that provided for under the CPTPP is not considered as an inconsistency.

Implementation deadline of the CPTPP

Brunei, Canada, Malaysia and Vietnam still have some outstanding issues, so further negotiations are necessary. Canada and Japan will also have to agree on auto rules in the CPTPP. However, negotiators have set the goal of signing the CPTPP in the first quarter of 2018. After that, all 11 countries will have to ratify it before it can come into effect.

***

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 !

 

 

Rechtsanwalt in Vietnam Dr. Oliver Massmann DAS TRANSPAZIFISCHE PARTNERSCHAFTSABKOMMEN VERPFLICHTUNGEN ÜBER DEM LEVEL DER WTO – EINE ANALYSE

Überblick über das Transpazifische Partnerschaftsabkommen (TPP)

Das TPP wurde ursprünglich bekannt als „Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership“, das 2006 zwischen Singapur, Neuseeland, Chile und Brunei als „P-4-Abkommen“ abgeschlossen wurde als Mittel zur Förderung der Handelsliberalisierung im asiatisch-pazifischen Raum. Wie der Name schon sagt, war der ursprüngliche Zweck der Vereinbarung nur, ökonomische Fragen zu betreffen. Da die Zahl der teilnehmenden Länder in der P-4-Vereinbarung gestiegen ist, beginnend mit den Vereinigten Staaten im September 2008 (welche aber 2017 wieder terminiert haben) und anderen Ländern, wie Australien, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Kanada, Mexiko und Japan bis Juli 2013 zu folgen, wird die Vereinbarung vereinbart “Eine umfassende, regionale Vereinbarung der nächsten Generation, die Handel und Investitionen liberalisiert und neue und traditionelle Handelsfragen und Herausforderungen des 21. Jahrhunderts anspricht” von den TPP-Handelsministern. Im Juni 2015 genehmigten die Vereinigten Staaten die Handelsförderungsbehörde für Präsident Obama. Die Vereinbarung endlich wird so, wie es heute durch harte Verhandlungsrunden ist, während die letzte Runde in Atlanta im September 2015 als die intensivste war. Die Verhandlungen zum TPP wurden bereits am 06. Oktober 2015 abgeschlossen. Im Februar kuendigten die USA das TPP worauf alle anderen Staaten sich einigten, das Schicksal des TPP im November 2017 endlich zu beschließen, wobei jetzt schon klar ist, dass die Mehrheit der Unterzeichnerstaaten das abkommen ratifizieren will (TPP11).

Der erfolgreiche Abschluss der TPP-Verhandlungen fügt Vietnam einer Gemeinschaft von 11 Nationen hinzu, die 28% des weltweiten Handels ausmacht.

Vietnam wäre der größte Profiteur dieses Handelspaktes. Das BIP in Vietnam würde eine sich zusätzlich um 13,6% steigern. Nach dem Weltwirtschaftsforum wird Vietnam voraussichtlich im Vergleich zu anderen TPP-Volkswirtschaften, RECP-Volkswirtschaften und RCEP-Volkswirtschaften die bedeutendste Veränderung des BIP im Jahr 2025 (d.h. 28,2%) aufweisen. Die Reallöhne von Vietnam werden bis 2025 ebenfalls voraussichtlich um 10,5% ansteigen, so dass Malaysias als zweithöchstes Einkommensaufsteigerland aus den TPP-Mitgliedern weit hinter sich gelassen werden wird.

Das TTP wird Vietnam dabei helfen, internationale Kooperationsmöglichkeiten zu nutzen, die Beziehungen zu den wichtigsten Märkten auszugleichen, sich größeren Märkten zu nähern, darunter Japan, Kanada, den Im- und Export zu steigern, das Import-Defizit zu reduzieren und ausländische Investitionen zu vergrößern. Darüber hinaus wird TTP auch dazu beitragen, dass die Wirtschaft Vietnams ihre Ressourcen effektiver nutzt und aktive Unterstützung der Prozesse der Umstrukturierung, der Innovation und der Verbesserung der Vorschriften ermöglicht und die Verwaltungsreformen verbessert.

Was macht das TPP zur Vorlage für kommende Vereinbarungen – Welche Verpflichtungen liegen außerhalb des WTO-Niveaus?

Die freiere Handelszone

Verpflichtungen im Handel mit Waren

Tarif- und nichttarifgebundene Handelshemmnisse werden im gesamten Handel mit Dienstleistungen und Waren im Rahmen des TPP erheblich reduziert und entfernt. Einfuhrzölle werden zu 100% für Waren reduziert, die zwischen den Mitgliedsstaaten gehandelt werden, wobei mehr als 90% sofort bei Abschluss des Abkommens beseitigt werden. Das TPP umfasst auch Fragen, die in Abkommen der WTO noch nicht angesprochen wurden, einschließlich der Ausfuhrabgaben, der Einfuhrzölle für Wiederverkäufe, des Marktzugangs für neu gestaltete Waren, strengere Vorschriften für Einfuhr- und Ausfuhrlizenzen, Monopole und Waren im Transit. Niedrigere Tarifbarrieren aus dem TPP geben Vietnam einen größeren Zugang zu großen Verbrauchermärkten in den USA, Japan, Kanada und Australien. Die potenziellen positiven Auswirkungen auf den Handel könnten transformativ sein, mit Schätzungen, dass das TPP die Ausfuhren Vietnams um über 37% bis 2025 steigern wird. Bemerkenswerterweise schloss Vietnam im August auch das Freihandelsabkommen mit der EU ab und ist somit dabei, Freihandelsabkommen mit drei seiner vier größten Exportziele – der EU, Japan und den USA – abzuschließen.

Verpflichtungen im Handel mit Dienstleistungen und Investitionen

Alle 12 Mitgliedsstaaten eröffnen die Möglichkeit eines liberalisierten Handels in diesem Bereich. Mehrere Sektoren werden im TPP im Vergleich zur WTO eröffnet, wie z.B. Telekommunikation, Vertrieb und Fertigung.

Darüber hinaus nimmt das TPP neben der Einbeziehung von grundlegenden WTO-Grundsätzen (nationale Behandlung (NT), Meistbegünstigung (MFN), Marktzugang und lokaler Präsenz) einen negativen Ansatz ein, so dass ihre Märkte für Dienstleister voll offen sind. Andere TPP-Parteien, soweit diese in ihren Verpflichtungen nichts anderes eingegangen sind (d.h. nicht- konforme Maßnahmen). Um solche Vorbehalte zu erheben, muss der Mitgliedsstaat die Notwendigkeit einer solchen Erhaltung und Verhandlung mit anderen Mitgliedsstaaten nachweisen. Bei der Genehmigung sind die nicht-konformen Maßnahmen nur auf solche Listen beschränkt, mit Ausnahme von Maßnahmen in bestimmten sensiblen Sektoren, die in einer separaten Liste enthalten sind. Die Mitgliedstaaten sind nur berechtigt, Maßnahmen zu ergreifen, die bereits besser sind als das bestehende (Ratchet-Prinzip). Das TPP schließt auch Verpflichtungen zur Beseitigung von Leistungsanforderungen ein (d.h. keine Bedingungen für lokale Anforderungen an Inhalte, Exportbedingungen, Nutzungen bestimmter Technologien, Standort des Investitionsprojekts usw.) und angemessene Anforderungen an die Geschäftsleitung und den Vorstand. Bemerkenswert ist, dass das TPP-Kapitel über Investitionen erstmals sehr klar und transparent im Hinblick auf das MFN-Prinzip ist, dass die Länder, die im Mehrstaatsregime tätig sind, den ausländischen Investoren die besten Investitionsbedingungen aller Staaten geben müssen, unabhängig von dem Staat, in dem die Investition findet statt. Investoren sind auch berechtigt, gegen die Regierung von der Investitionsregistrierung Anträge zu stellen.

Textilien

Textilien gehören zu den wichtigsten Handelswaren Vietnams. Nach Vorschlägen der Vereinigten Staaten wurden die Verhandlungen über Textilien getrennt von Verhandlungen über den Marktzugang für andere Güter geführt. Um für die TPP-Präferenzzollbehandlung qualifiziert zu sein, wendet das TPP das Stoff-Verarbeitungs-Prinzip an, d.h. Textilprodukte müssen in TPP-Ländern aus Stoffen vorbereitet werden. Allerdings enthält das TPP Ausnahmen, die es erlauben, dass (i) bestimmte Materialien von außerhalb TPP bezogen werden (“Short supply list”), (ii) bestimmte Fertigungsphasen (z.B. Färben, Weben usw.), die außerhalb von TPP durchgeführt werden sollen; Und (iii) ein Land, um Nicht-TPP-Materialien im Austausch für die Ausfuhr bestimmter Textilwaren in ein anderes Land verwenden zu können.

Staatliche Logistik

Das TPP macht eine Liste von Regierungsstellen und Agenturen, deren Logistik von bestimmten Waren und Dienstleistungen in einem bestimmten Betrag der öffentlichen Ausschreibung unterliegen muss. Dieses Kapitel enthält NT- und MFN-Prinzipien, entfernt bevorzugte Bedingungen, die lokale Ausschreibungen wie die Verwendung lokaler Güter oder lokaler Lieferanten, Bedingungen für den Technologietransfer oder den Zwei-Wege-Handel und die Investition usw. begünstigen. Diese Regelungen erfordern die Mitarbeit aller Parteien, insbesondere Vietnams, in Bezug auf Chinas Vorreiterstellung durch die vielen Angebote mit niedrigem Angebotspreis, aber qualitativ minderwertigen Dienstleistungen, ihre Gebotsverfahren zu reformieren und ihre eigenen Interessen zu schützen, indem sie die Angebote mit schlechter Leistung und geringer Kapazität disqualifizieren.

Streitbeilegung zwischen Investoren und Staaten

Das TPP zielt darauf ab, Investoren und ihre Investitionen in das Gastland zu schützen, indem sie Anforderungen an die Nichtdiskriminierung einführt; eine gerechte Behandlung einfordert; einen vollen Schutz und Sicherheit wahrt; das Verbot der Enteignung, das nicht für den öffentlichen Zweck, ohne ordnungsgemäßen Prozess oder ohne Entschädigung ist; die freie Übertragung von Mitteln im Zusammenhang mit Investitionen; und die Freiheit, Führungspositionen unabhängig von der Nationalität zu ernennen.

Das TPP enthält auch Verfahren für die Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit als Mittel zur Beilegung von Streitigkeiten zwischen Investoren und dem Aufnahmestaat. Es deckt neue Bestimmungen im Vergleich zu bestehenden Vereinbarungen wie Transparenz in Schiedsverfahren, Offenlegung von Einreichungen und Schiedssprüchen und die Beteiligung interessierter nicht streitender Parteien, um amicus curiae (lat. für: unabhängige Sachverständige) Entscheidungen zu erhalten.

Vereinbarkeit des TPP und älterer / bestehender Vereinbarungen

Die Mitgliedsstaaten des TPP erkennen die bestehenden Rechte und Pflichten jedes Mitglieds im Rahmen bestehender internationaler Vereinbarungen an, zu denen alle TPP-Mitgliedsstaaten Parteien sind (z.B. WTO-Abkommen, NAFTA oder weitere bilaterale Abkommen) oder von den mindestens zwei Mitgliedsstaaten Parteien sind. Im Falle einer Kollision zwischen einer Bestimmung des TPP und einer Bestimmung einer anderen Vereinbarung, auf die mindestens zwei TPP-Mitgliedsstaaten Parteien sind, werden diese Parteien miteinander eine gemeinsame zufriedenstellende Lösung erreichen. Bitte beachten Sie, dass der Fall in dem eine andere Vereinbarung eine günstigere Behandlung von Waren, Dienstleistungen, Investitionen oder Personen als die Behandlung des TPP vorsieht, nicht als Inkonsistenz angesehen wird.

Frist der Umsetzung des TPP

Am 04. Februar 2016 trafen sich die Handelsminister in Neuseeland, um das Abkommen zu unterzeichnen, damit es in den einzelnen Mitgliedstaaten im nächsten Schritt vor dem Inkrafttreten des Abkommens ratifiziert wird. Die TPP wird nicht wirksam, wenn nicht mindestens sechs Länder, die 85% des BIP des Blocks ausmachen, es ratifizieren. Laut dem Vietnamesischen Minister für Industrie und Handel, Herrn Vu Huy Hoang, wird erwartet, dass das TPP im Jahr 2018 in Kraft tritt auch ohne die USA! Dies wird auf dem APEC Treffen im November 2017 entschieden.

***

Bitte zögern Sie nicht, Herrn Rechtsanwalt Dr. Oliver Massmann unter omassmann@duanemorris.com zu kontaktieren, sofern Sie Fragen haben oder mehr darüber erfahren möchten. Dr. Oliver Massmann ist der Geschäftsführer von Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Vielen Dank!

 

 

 

 

 

Vietnam – Transport – Logistics – Trade – Customs- Dramatic Changes ahead: The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement – The IMPACT

 

Sixty-five million years ago, the last of the dinosaurs went extinct. The event caused dramatic changes to the planet and provided space for new species on earth. A similar event and change is about to happen in Vietnam and all other WTO members. It is the entry into force of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

What is the TFA?

The TFA is a document adopted by WTO member countries at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia on 6th December 2013 after 10-year negotiation.

In order for the TFA to take place, two-thirds of the 164 WTO members have to notify their ratifications to the WTO after forming a National Committee on Trade Facilitation.

In November 2015, Vietnam became the 60th country to ratify the TFA. On 22nd February 2017, the TFA officially entered into force after Rwanda, Oman, Chad and Jordan submitted instruments of acceptance of the TFA to the WTO, bringing the total number of acceptances to 112 while only 110 ratifications are needed for the TFA’s entry into force. At the time of writing this article, there have been 118 ratifications received by the WTO.

What is the TFA about?

The TFA aims at expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders, helping to cut trade costs globally and creating a significant boost for global trade and commerce system.

The TFA is a self-contained agreement and includes three separate sections. Section I includes 12 Articles covering a range of specific trade facilitation measures. Section II covers special and differential treatment for developing country members and least developed country members. The final section deals with institutional arrangements (i.e., establishment of a Committee on Trade Facilitation within the WTO and at a national level) and miscellaneous provisions. The TFA will interact with other legal commitments specified in the WTO Agreement and Multilateral Agreements on Trade in goods.

The agreement requires its members to ensure the availability and prompt publication of information about cross-border procedures and practices, mandates that rights of appeal for traders be improved, fees and formalities connected to the import and export of goods be reduced, customs clearance procedures be faster and conditions for freedom of transit of goods be improved, just to name a few. The TFA also contains measures for effective cooperation between customs and other authorities involved in the facilitation of trade and customs compliance issues. Overall, the main purpose of the TFA is to simplify and harmonize customs procedures among all WTO member countries, which will later result in cutting red tape that slows down and impedes international trade, thereby speeding up of the goods flow across borders.

Different from other agreements, the TFA pays particular attention to developing and least developed countries when allowing them to set their own implementation schedule. While developed countries have to immediately implement the agreement, developing countries will only have to implement the TFA provisions that they have designated as Category A commitments. Other categories of commitments are Category B commitments, which will be implemented after a given period; and Category C commitments, which will apply to the countries after they are provided with technical assistance and capacity building support. Based on the latest WTO’s statistics, there have been 46% of 240 notifiable article items notified to the WTO, of which Category A measures account for 40.5%, Category B measures account for 3.3% and the remaining 2.3% is for Category C measures.[1] Vietnam has already submitted to the WTO its Category A commitments on 31 July 2014.

Why is the TFA important?

The impact of the TFA implementation can even be compared with the worldwide tariffs reduction and elimination. According to the WTO, full implementation of the TFA can reduce trade costs by 14.3% on average with many developing countries and least-developed countries forecast to enjoy the highest reduction (15.8-23.1%) (including Vietnam). This could result in up to US$1 trillion of gains around the world annually. In addition, the time needed to import and export goods (thanks to streamlined customs procedures) is much more reduced. Full implementation of the TFA also adds 2.7% a year in global export growth by 2030, and creates more jobs and growth on a global scale (i.e., more than 0.5% to world GDP growth). For developing countries and least-developed countries, their annual exports will increase by 3.5% together with an increase in the diversity of exported goods because of the TFA implementation. In US dollar, “the TFA has the potential to increase merchandise exports of developing countries by up to 730 billion dollars per annum.”

The TFA is vitally important and has the potential to fundamentally reform global customs practices. One could question why. Here are some of the main reasons:

  • The TFA includes provisions on facilitating rapid movement of goods across borders such as advance rulings, pre-arrival processing, allowing the release of goods prior to final determination of customs duties, taxes, fees and charges.
  • The TFA helps to ensure the predictability of rules and procedures related to trade and customs by requiring its members to timely publish relevant documents preferably on the Internet and establishing enquiry points to respond to enquiries by interested parties.
  • The TFA aims at creating harmonized process and standards which traders find it familiar and predictable when doing customs procedures in different countries.
  • The TFA recognizes the importance of growth and benefits for every member states. Thus, it provides for special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries to make sure these countries receive sufficient assistance to reap the full benefits of the TFA implementation. In addition, the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility will support developing and least developed countries in addressing their needs and concerns.

Overall, the agreement demonstrates the commitment of the WTO member states to trade reform, and increased confidence in the multilateral trading system.

Impacts on Vietnam?

The TFA is expected to boost national and business competitiveness as a result of Vietnam’s implementation of its commitments under the agreement.

On 13 October 2016, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 1969/QD-TTg on approving the “Plan of preparation and implementation of the TFA of the WTO”, and identifying specific responsibilities of each ministry in upcoming years (Decision 1969).

According to Decision 1969, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) is the national agency to implement the TFA. In particular, the MOF is responsible for, among others:

  • Implementing national outreach plans to provide information on the TFA;
  • Operating the single-window system;
  • Classifying Categories A, B, and C provisions;
  • Seeking technical support and assistance for capacity building;
  • Formulating roadmap for implementation of Categories B and C provisions; and
  • Reviewing relevant legal framework for further amendments.

Other ministries are tasked with coordinating with the MOF in the implementation of the TFA: the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, etc.

Following the issuance of Decision 1969, Vietnam has formulated plans to implement Categories A, B and C. The Prime Minister also signed the decision to formally establish on the National Steering Committee on ASEAN Single Window and the National Single Window regime on trade facilitation. On 06 February 2017, the Government also issued Resolution No. 19/2017/NQ-CP on improving the business environment and national competitiveness. The Prime Minister once said: “It is not acceptable to take 4 days to complete customs procedures for exports which is 2 times higher than the regional average, and 4 days for imports while the regional average is only 3 days.” Following the Government’s directive and strong momentum for reforming customs procedures caused by the TFA implementation, Vietnam has been reviewing thousands of customs procedures and revising several legal documents to bring them into conformity with its commitments in the TFA.

The Government cannot act otherwise if it hopes to help Vietnamese businesses to be competitive in the global marketplace. These improvements will greatly facilitate trade across borders, thereby reducing the costs in both time and money for Vietnamese businesses. In general, it is expected to reduce the time needed to import goods by over a day and a half and to export goods by almost two days.  For Vietnam, the TFA could reduce trade costs by 20% and trade facilitation measures will help businesses in formal international trade. According to Mr. Nguyen Dinh Cung, Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, one-day reduction in customs clearance time could result in a saving of VND1.6 billion. It is a huge amount given the busy customs activities in Vietnam’s ports.

A lot of work has been done so far to implement the TFA. However, there is still a long way ahead and we have good reasons to expect further dramatic changes to come.

***

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

Thank you very much!

 

[1] https://www.tfadatabase.org/notifications/by-measure

More Clarity on Foreign Investment and M&A in Logistics Companies in Vietnam

Foreign investors can now proceed with more certainty when setting up logistic companies or acquiring stakes from Vietnamese partners. Logistics is an area where discrepancies between international treaties and domestic law implementation have caused many headaches. However, Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) has recently provided more clarity through a guiding regulation (Circular No. 9911/BCT-KH) and a number of official letters, including responses to the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee and the Vietnam Business Forum. At the same time, a few Japanese logistics companies have established 100% foreign-invested subsidiaries in Vietnam.

International treaties should supersede national law, and official comments from MOIT have restated that view. So, we initially refer to Vietnam’s WTO service sector commitments (WTOSSC) in most cases. Accordingly, some sectors are open to 100% foreign investment (e.g., warehousing and freight forwarding), while some still require Vietnamese equity participation (e.g., container handling).

Foreign Ownership Limitations in the Logistics Sector (WTOSSC)
CPC Service Description Max. Foreign Ownership
742 Storage and Warehouse 100%
748 Freight transport agency (incl. freight forwarding services) 100%
749 (partially) Bill auditing; freight brokerage; freight inspection, weighing and sampling; freight receiving and acceptance; transportation document preparation on behalf of cargo owners 99%
7211 Maritime transport (Passengers; less cabotage) 49%
7212 Maritime transport (Freight; less cabotage) 51%
7221 Internal waterways transport (Passengers) 49%
7222 Internal waterways transport (Freight) 49%
7111 Rail transport (Passengers) Unbound
7112 Rail transport (Freight) 49%
7121 + 7122 Road transport (Passengers) 49%
7123 Road transport (Freight) 51%
No CPC Custom clearance 99%
No CPC Container station and depot 100%
7411 Container handling (except at airports) 50%
7512 Courier (express delivery) 100%
621, 61111, 6113, 6121, 622, 631 + 632 Distribution (import/export, commission agents, wholesale, retail) 100%

As a foreign buyer in an M&A case, besides the purchases price and other conditions, we recommend to consider and differentiate between absolutely essential and optional business lines as well as the best case and acceptable levels of ownership in the target.

Yamato Logistics and Sagawa Express have established 100% foreign-invested subsidiaries in Vietnam. This is possible through strategically limiting business lines to those that are open to 100% foreign investment.

For further information, please  contact Giles Cooper (gtcooper@duanemorris.com), Manfred Otto (motto@duanemorris.com) or any other lawyer you are regularly communicating with at Duane Morris.

Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann Impact of WTO Accession – An analysis

Question: How would you generally describe the impact of the Vietnamese WTO accession on the country?

Answer:

Generally speaking, the WTO accession has created more opportunities and advantages than disadvantages to the Vietnamese economy.

However, without appropriate macroeconomic policies and necessary reforms, these opportunities sometimes did become challenges to Vietnam.

Accordingly, appropriate policy measures following the accession, especially in training and education, migrations, regional and social protection policies were of great importance.

– Macroeconomic impacts:

+ When Vietnam joined the WTO, the world was facing the Great Recession. After the accession, impacts from the global market have become greater due to close connections with other markets, creating more risks to the Vietnamese economy. However, the increase in economic growth is also considerable due to great amount of investment.

+ The import of the heavy industry in Vietnam accelerated after the accession.

+ Vietnam switched from exporting primary commodities to exporting goods produced with high technologies.

+ Since the accession, Vietnam has diverted from agriculture-driven economy to focus more on developing industrial sectors. Areas requiring high technologies have become very attractive.

– Impacts on agriculture:

+ Although the share of agriculture in GDP in Vietnam is decreasing, this field remains crucial to the Vietnamese economy. Agriculture is facing several issues after the accession including quality and competitiveness.

– Impacts on the society:

+ The WTO accession has created several working opportunities for unemployed people.

+ It has also lessen the gap between the rich and the poor and eradicated several gender inequlities in Vientnam.

+ The number of juvenile laborers has largely decreased.

Question: How would you describe the impact of the accession on politics and the economy of Vietnam?

Answer:

  1. a) Impact on the Economy:

+ Positive impacts on economic growth:

  • Trade liberalization was promoted following the accesion.
  • Market access was also improved for the country’s exports.
  • After Vietnam joined the WTO, foreign capital flows strongly poured into the economy and improved the economic growth of Vietnam.
  • Import clearly has a greater growth due to increase in investment as well as higher average income, allowing access to foreign goods.
  • Approximately 5.7 million jobs were created prior to the accession (2000-2006).
  • The annual growth rate of the economy of Vietnam gradually increased from 2001 until 2005 and remained stable, reaching over 8% until 2007.
  • Limiting poverty. For instance, in the Red River Delta area, the figure for poverty decreased from 62.7% in 1993 to 8.8% in 2006.

+ Negative impacts on economic growth: inequalities among the citizens

  1. b) Impact on the Politics:

– Market opening and international economic integration has put Vietnam’s economy right at the door of opportunities and challenges.

– Vietnamese law has become more transparent and uniform.

– There has been a reduction in administrative procedure, creating flexibility in the market.

– WTO accession has laid a good foundation for Vietnam’s deeper integration into the world’s economy.

– The process of economic integration, particularly since Vietnam joined the WTO, however, revealed the immanent weaknesses of the Vietnamese economy.

– The current situation requires an effective import-export strategy to improve efficiency of resource allocation, improve competitiveness of the economy and macroeconomic stability.

– In this context, it is important to focus on macroeconomic stability, growth paradigm shift towards quality and efficiency as outlined in the Strategy of Social – Economic Development in the period from 2011 to 2020.

Question: In which domains was this impact particularly strong?

– One of the crucial terms of the WTO agreement is trade liberalization.

– After the WTO accession, Vietnam has made a commitment to open markets for services sector. Thus, Vietnam are obliged to open the market (allowing foreign investors to participate in the provision of services in Vietnam or to organizations and individuals in Vietnam) at least at the levels of the commitment. This is one of the main reasons leading to the rise in investment in this sector. Particularly high investment growth in the property business was derived from the transfer of capital from investors from risky markets to the emerging markets with higher returns.

– In the first few years of joining the WTO, the sector has the strongest investment growth in the economy was the property and business consulting services (an increase of 263.0% in 2007 and 15, 0% in 2008); market sectors open to foreign investment, such as finance and credit (up 87.4% in 2007 and 5.8% in 2008); transport, storage and communication (29.5% in 2007 and 5.8% in 2008).

– Growths of this sector are mainly due to the contribution of foreign investments and economic sectors outside the state.

Question: How important would you say is compliance to international trade law – represented through the WTO – in policy making in Vietnam?

Answer:

– WTO is a community which allows easier trading terms among countries with fewer barriers and this was reinforced by international trade law set forward by the WTO.

Therefore, being in compliance with the international trade law is one of the crucial requirements in joining the WTO as it promotes the integration of the Vietnamese economy into the international economy and it also creates similar opportunities for Vietnam in order to further develop its economy.

Question: Would you say that organizations such as the American Chamber of Commerce or the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam gained more leverage in representing their interests through the legal WTO commitments?

Yes.

Part 2: Questions about a concrete policy case in Vietnam

Case description:

In February 2014, the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance set up and amendment draft to the Law on Special Consumption to impose a 10% tax on sugar-sweetened, non-alcoholic carbonated beverages. This caused resistance by different parties, such as the Ministry of Trade and in particular, the American Chamber of Commerce, representing foreign producers of soft drinks. One of the main arguments of the opponents to the tax was that Vietnam could violate its commitment to the principle of “national treatment” because 88% of the products that would be affected by the tax are foreign branded. In the monthly resolution of the government in July 2014 (Document Number: No 56//NQ-CP, point 8), the government declared to not include the proposed tax within the Law on Special consumption.

Letter of the American Chamber of Commerce to the Vietnamese Prime Minister:

http://36mfjx1a0yt01ki78v3bb46n15gp.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/140602-Letter-to-PM-Nguyen-Tan-Dung-re-proposed-excise-tax-on-CSD-En.pdf

Questions:

Are you familiar with this case? Did you hear about it when it happened?

– Yes.

How would you generally describe this case? Is rather ordinary or more special?

  • The main reason that the Ministry of Finance proposed such amendment was its concern about the health impacts of sugar-sweetened, non-alcoholic carbonated beverages, such as causing diabetes, obesity, stomachache, gout or even cancer. Concern about health leading to the authority’s decision to impose higher special consumption tax rate is quite ordinary. Many other countries in the region such as Thailand or Cambodia also impose higher tax rate for certain types of beverages not good for public health. In Vietnam, goods such as beer, cigars or alcoholic beverages are also subject to very high special consumption tax rate.

Would you say that the claim of a violation of the principle of “national treatment” is justified?

  • I believe you are referring to Article III:2 of the GATT 1994. Generally speaking, this Article prohibits members from treating imported products less favourably than like domestic products once the imported product has entered the domestic market.
  • As you can see, the objective of this article is imported products vs. domestic products. The discrimination in this article is not a discrimination of nationality of investors. For your information, in the Vietnam’s market, most of sugar-sweetened, non-alcoholic carbonated beverages are produced or imported by foreign invested companies in Vietnam. All locally produced and imported goods are subject to this type of tax. However, I agree with the AmCham position paper that despite this equal application, the overall effect of the measure benefits local producers at the expense of foreign producers. Thus, a violation of the NT principle could be established.

Would you say that compliance to WTO law was one factor that caused the tax proposal to fail? If so, how important was that factor compared to others?

  • WTO has a dispute resolution regime for any members violating its commitments. If there is any dispute arising and the disputing parties have to go to the Dispute Settlement Body, it will not only harm trade relations but also political relations between the parties. Vietnam always wants to comply with the commitments it made for its own sake.

Would you say that the tax – if applied – could have justified a claim through the WTO dispute settlement mechanism?

  • Vietnam could use Article XX GATT 1994 to make its claim, but it will be hard for Vietnam to meet strict requirements under this exception, especially when there is no established scientific-based evidence available at that time.

***

Please do contact the author Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam.

THANK YOU !

 

 

The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement – Commitments above WTO Level – An Analysis

Overview on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)
The TPP was originally known as the Trans- Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership concluded in 2006 among Singapore, New Zealand, Chile and Brunei (P-4 agreement) as a means to promote trade liberalization in the Asia- Pacific Region. As its name indicates, the original purpose of the agreement was only to address economic issues. As the number of participating countries in the P-4 agreement increased, starting with the United States in September 2008 and other countries to follow being Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Canada, Mexico and Japan until July 2013, the agreement is agreed to be “a comprehensive, next-generation regional agreement that liberalizes trade and investment and addresses new and traditional trade issues and 21st-century challenges” by TPP Trade ministers. In June 2015, the United States approved the trade promotion authority for President Obama. The Agreement finally becomes as it is today through tough negotiation rounds, while the last round in Atlanta in September 2015 was considered the most intensive one. The TPP was already concluded on 06 October 2015.
The successful conclusion of the TPP negotiations adds Vietnam to a club of 12 nations accounting for 40% of world’s GDP (about $US28.1 trillion, $39.1 trillion), one-third of global trade ($US11 trillion) and about 800 million consumers.
Vietnam would be the largest beneficiary of this trade pact. Vietnam’s GDP would add an additional increase of 13.6% to the baseline scenario. According to the World Economic Forum, Vietnam is predicted to have the most significant change in GDP in 2025 (i.e., 28.2%) compared with other TPP economies, RECP economies and RCEP-only economies. Vietnam’s real income by 2025 is also forecast to increase by 10.5%, leaving Malaysia’s as the second highest income rising country out of the TPP members far behind.

TTP will help Vietnam make good use of international cooperation opportunities, balance relationships with key markets, approach larger markets including the U.S, Japan, Canada, boost import-export, reduce import deficit, and attract foreign investment. In addition, TTP will also help Vietnam’s economy allocate its resources more effectively, enabling active supports to the processes of restructuring, innovation and improving regulations, and improve administrative reforms.

What makes the TPP the template for next generation trade agreements – What commitments are beyond the WTO Level ?
Freer trade zone
Commitments in Trade in goods
Tariff and non-tariff barriers are reduced and removed substantially across all trade in services and goods under the TPP. Import tariffs are reduced for 100% goods traded among member states, with more than 90% being eliminated immediately when the Agreement takes effect. The TPP also covers issues which have never been addressed in the WTO, including export duties, import duties for re-manufactured goods, market access for re-furbished goods, stricter regulations on import and export licensing, monopolies and goods in transit.
Lower tariff barriers from the TPP will give Vietnam greater access to large consumer markets in the US, Japan, Canada and Australia. The potential positive effect on trade could be transformative, with estimates that the TPP will boost Vietnam’s exports by over 37% until 2025. Notably, Vietnam in August also concluded FTA with the EU, putting it on course to complete free trade agreements with three of its four largest export destinations – the EU, Japan and the US.
Commitments in Trade in services and Investment
All 12 member states give consent to a liberalized trade in this area. More sectors are opened in the TPP compared with the WTO, such as telecommunications, distribution and manufacturing sectors.
In addition, besides incorporating basic WTO principles (national treatment (NT), most-favored nation treatment (MFN), market access, and local presence), the TPP takes a negative approach, meaning that their markets are fully open to service suppliers from other TPP Parties, except otherwise indicated in their commitments (i.e, non-conforming measures). In order to make such reservations, the member state must prove the necessity of such preservation and negotiate with other member states. If approved, the non-conforming measures are only limited to such list, except for measures in certain sensitive sectors which are included in a separate list. Member states are only allowed to adopt policies that are better than what they commit (ratchet principle). The TPP also includes obligations on removal of performance requirements (i.e., no conditions on local content requirements, export conditions, use of certain technology, location of the investment project, etc.) and reasonable requirements on senior management and board of directors. Notably, the TPP Chapter on Investment for the first time makes it very clear and transparent with regards to the MFN principle, that countries operating in multi-state regime must give foreign investors the best investment conditions of all states, regardless of the state where the investment takes place. Investors are also allowed to petition against the Government from the investment registration stage.

Textiles
Textiles are among Vietnam’s core negotiating sectors. According to suggestions by the United States, negotiations on textiles were conducted separately from negotiations on market access for other goods. To be qualified for TPP preferential tariff treatment, the TPP applies the yarn-forward principle, meaning textile products must be produced in TPP countries from yarn forward. However, the TPP includes exceptions that allow (i) certain materials to be sourced from outside TPP (“Short supply list”), (ii) certain manufacturing phases (for example, dying, weaving, etc.) to be conducted outside TPP; and (iii) one country to be able to use non-TPP materials in exchange for its export of certain textile goods to another country.
Government procurement
The TPP makes a list of government entities and agencies whose procurement of a particular̉ goods and services at a particular amount must be subject to public tender. This chapter includes NT and MFN principles, removes tender conditions favoring local tenders such as using local goods or local suppliers, conditions on technology transfer or two-way trade and investment, etc. These rules require all parties, especially Vietnam, in the context of China’s bidders predominantly win the bids with cheap offer price but low-quality services, to reform their bidding procedures and protect their own interests by disqualifying tenders with poor performance and low capacity.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement
The TPP aims at protecting investors and their investment in the host country by introducing requirements on non-discrimination; fair and equitable treatment; full protection and security; the prohibition of expropriation that is not for public purpose, without due process, or without compensation; the free transfer of funds related to investments; and the freedom to appoint senior management positions regardless of nationality.
TPP also includes procedures for arbitration as means of settling disputes between investors and the host state. It covers new provisions compared with existing agreements such as transparency in arbitral proceedings, disclosure of filings and arbitral awards, and participation of interested non-disputing parties to make amicus curiae submissions to a tribunal.

Application of the TPP and older/ existing agreements
Member states of the TPP acknowledge existing rights and obligations of each member under existing international agreements to which all TPP member states are parties (for example, the WTO Agreement, NAFTA, or bilateral agreements) or at least two member states are parties. In case there is any consistency between a provision of the TPP and a provision of another agreement to which at least two TPP member states are parties, these parties will consult with each other to reach a mutually satisfactory solution. Please note that the case where an agreement provides more favourable treatment of goods, services, investments or persons than that provided for under the TPP is not considered as an inconsistency.

Implementation deadline of the TPP
Trade ministers will meet in New Zealand on 04 February 2016 to sign this Agreement for it to be ratified in each member states as the next step before the Agreement officially takes effect. The TPP will not take effect unless at least six countries accounting for 85% of the GDP of the bloc ratify it. According to Minister of Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade Mr. Vu Huy Hoang, the TPP would promisingly take effect in 2018.

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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.

Vietnam Latest on Customs and Tax Compliance – What Has to be Improved to Match WTO Commitments

Over the past year, we have seen significant efforts and progress made by the General Department of Customs in terms of improved regulations, more effective e-customs operations, and increased dialogue and consultation with the business community. From 01 January 2015, the new Customs Law takes effect with its implementing Decrees coming into force on 15 March. The implementing Circulars are also already in force from 01 April with the most notable one, Circular No. 38/2015/TT-BTC. This Circular, which replaces 13 previous customs regulations, is considered the most comprehensive among the new regulations. We are looking forward to more regulations being adopted soon following the new Customs Law, for example, regulations on advance customs rulings, post-clearance inspection which stem from the ASEAN agreements implementing the AFTA, the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, or regulations in anticipation of the upcoming Free Trade Agreements. These agreements commonly have major requirements on advance customs ruling, availability of information, separation of customs clearance from final determination of duties and taxes, international cooperation in customs, etc. The Prime Minister has adopted Resolution No. 19 for a period of three years, from 2015 to 2018, to prioritize these changes. During the implementation process, Vietnam has been receiving much technical support from foreign experts of the WTO, WCO and other organizations.
We have also seen progress in reforming Vietnam’s tax procedures over the recent years. Up to 01 January 2015, the total time for tax compliance is reduced to 370 hours per year, which is an impressive decrease compared with 872 hours annually according to the 2013 statistics. Time spent for tax declaration and payment is also reduced to 121.5 hours per year, with possibility of online tax declaration and payment. Although German enterprises highly appreciate these tax reforms, we would expect that the efforts are not only at Government or ministerial levels but also at the local levels where we have to deal with the authorities there directly.
Notwithstanding the above positive developments, Vietnam still has much to do in the upcoming time. We address below certain major issues and suggest solutions accordingly.
1. Application of blended tax
Blended tax is a combination of ad valorem tariff and specific/ fixed duty rate. Since Vietnam has made WTO commitments in reducing import duty, especially for goods of commercial value imported from WTO members, the application of blended tax could be considered as going against WTO commitments on market opening and tax reduction. We suggest that if the Draft Law on Import and Export Tariff has to include provisions on blended tax, it should specify in which cases it is applicable or else it would create confusion for local companies in Vietnam who are only familiar with either ad valorem or specific duty for each of their commercial goods.
2. Application of quota duty
Decree No. 187/2013/ND-CP and Circular No. 111/2012/TT-BTC subject salt, raw tobacco, eggs, and sugar to tariff quota regime. This means if the imported quantity of these goods exceed the quota as prescribed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade or there is no import license as required under the tariff quota regime, import of these products will be imposed an import tariff of 50%-90%. We would suggest these provisions be included in the Law on Export and Import Tariffs rather than Decree No. 197 or Circular No. 11. Moreover, the Law on Export and Import Tariffs should also address applicable import tariffs for minimum and maximum import quota for specific types of goods and the authority to issue documents governing the application of import quota from time to time. This would serve as the basis for the competent authorities to perform their rights and obligations and enterprises to clearly understand government’s import and export policies.
3. Tariff policies for goods imported for production of exports
It is recommended that goods which are imported for production of exports be not subject to tariff upon importation. This tariff exemption works more efficiently compared with tax refund upon goods exportation in terms of cash flows burden for export enterprises and will help improve the competitiveness of domestic enterprises. However, there should be a mechanism to monitor and request for tariff payment if the goods are then used for domestic consumption.
4. Goods imported for implementation of investment projects
According to the new Investment Law, projects being implemented in certain geographical areas and industries will enjoy tax incentives. The implementing Decrees of the Investment Law or the Law on Export and Import Tariffs should provide a detailed list of such areas and industries. The law should also clarify whether imported goods are still exempted from duty if the investment project is entitled with tax incentives under the initial investment license but is no longer qualified for such preferential treatment due to a change in technology.

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

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ベトナムの外食事業、100%外資系企業の参入が可能に

国際的外食チェーンにおけるベトナムでの経営について

ドウェイン・モリス・ベトナム法律事務所
オットー マンフレッド 倉雄

国際的外食チェーンにとって、ベトナム進出の絶好のチャンスが到来します。2015年1月より、ベトナムの外食産業に対して、100%外資系企業の参入が認められるようになります。外資系企業は、製造及び企業内の物流管理ネットワークも設けることができます。今まで小売店の参入障壁となっていた「エコノミックニーズテスト」(ENT)は、レストランに適用されないと考えられます(ただし、大規模小売店には未だに適用されます)。今回の市場アクセスの自由化で、外資により大量生産のファーストフード・チェーン店の法的枠組みが構築されます。また、今回の自由化は、現在、ベトナムでベトナム人の名義を借りて、レストラン事業を実質的に経営している外国人にも影響があります。今回の市場開放で、外資系企業による「100%外資」化と完全なコントロールが可能になり、多くの国際的外食チェーンが一斉に進出することが見込まれています。
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