If the HCMC government continues investing in major infrastructure projects, embracing digitalization and Smart City initiatives and streamlining its business environment, it can reap the full benefits of the European Union-Vietnam free trade agreement (EVFTA).

EuroCham organized the conference titled “The European Union-Vietnam free trade agreement – HCMC as a bridge to Europe” in HCMC today, March 20 as part of its introduction of the 11th edition of its annual Whitebook. The event at the GEM Center brought together some 150 high-level participants from European businesses and leaders of HCMC.

In the edition, EuroCham focuses on the future of economic development in Vietnam. This HCMC briefing highlighted the issues most critical to ensuring the success of the next phase of Vietnam’s development, of which the EVFTA is the most important.

Once ratified and executed, the agreement will boost trade and investment between the European Union and Vietnam, opening up fresh opportunities for companies and consumers on both sides. Experts predict that it will boost trade and investment, adding between 7% and 8% to Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025.

EuroCham members stated that the detailed recommendations outlined in the Whitebook will help make Vietnam, especially HCMC, a more competitive, attractive and business-friendly trade and investment environment.

“The fact that so many of our 1,000 members have chosen HCMC as the home of their business operations in Vietnam shows the success of the city and its leadership. HCMC has transformed itself into an attractive place in which to do business, and one which continues to draw trade and investment from companies across the European Union,” remarked EuroCham Co-Chairman Nicolas Audier.

Audier stressed that the city has the opportunity to go even further and enhance its international reputation as the bridge between Vietnam and Europe.

“If taken on board, the insights and recommendations in our Whitebook will help the Government unlock the full benefits of the EVFTA and go further and faster on its path of growth and development, reforming Vietnam’s legal framework and business environment and, in the process, improving the livelihoods and living standards of its citizens,” he noted.

Europe is the world’s largest exporter of goods and manufacturing services. In 2018, Europe was still one of Vietnam’s most important overseas markets, according to Ambassador Bruno Angelet, head of the Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam.

He pointed out that the continent accounted for some 17% of the country’s outbound sales, while their bilateral trade had reached more than US$56 billion last year. In addition, European investors injected some US$1.06 billion into nearly 140 projects in the country last year.

The city’s vice chairman, Le Thanh Liem, spoke highly of the close ties between Vietnam and the European Union over many years, which helps Vietnam stimulate its economic development, enhance its investment environment and push through administrative reforms.

He confirmed that the municipal authorities stand ready to welcome feedback from the European business community to remove troublesome procedures and create a dynamic and investor-friendly city.

The EVFTA is regarded as the most comprehensive and ambitious trade and investment agreement that the European Union has ever concluded with a developing country in Asia. It is the second agreement in the ASEAN region, after the one with Singapore, and it is expected to intensify bilateral relations between Vietnam and the European Union, according to the Whitebook.

Vietnam will have access to a potential market of more than 500 million people and a total GDP of US$15,000 billion, accounting for 22% of the global GDP.

Vietnam’s GDP is expected to increase by an additional 10%-15%, and exports are predicted to rise by 30%-40% in the next 10 years. The real wages of skilled laborers could rise by 12%, while the real salaries of common workers could increase by 13%.

Meanwhile, exporters and investors from the European Union will have further opportunities to access one of the largest and fastest-growing countries in the region.

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Source: The Saigon Times. 

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