He was speaking at a meeting between HCMC leaders and the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam to discuss economic growth and ways to grasp chance from the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement ( EVFTA).
Chairman Phong said that the meeting aimed to help entrepreneurs in HCMC understand more about the EU market as well as to-be-difficulties. If Vietnamese enterprises can take advantage of EVFTA, they will have more experience in exporting products into the EU market. This is a chance to review what barrier Vietnamese enterprises have bumped into so that city can help to remove, Mr. Phong said. Therefore, the city leaders convened the meeting to listen to opinions of Vietnamese and EU enterprises to help the both sides to reap fruitful achievements.
A representative from European Union said that Vietnam is the second Asian country that has signed a Free Trade Agreement with the EU. The EVFTA will take effect on August 1 when 70 percent of products will enjoy zero tariff rate. Currently, the EU is HCMC’s third largest market; accordingly, the agreement has allowed many Vietnamese products to be imported into the EU duty-free or with reduced duties.
According to Deputy Director of the city Department of Industry and Trade Le Huynh Minh Tu, more than 20,000 exporters in HCMC earned US$41.9 billion in 2019 including $4.47 billion in the EU market. Vietnamese enterprises sell electronic parts, shoes, textile and garment products, coffee, cashews , and plastic products into the EU.
Vice Chairman of EuroCham Jean-Jacques Bouflet said that the agreement will pave the way for new investment wave while EU enterprises admitted that HCMC has open policies to appeal investors. Investors from the EU showed their interest in the smart city plan and infrastructure development in the city.
The event also featured the launch of EuroCham’s 12th Whitebook publication. The EuroCham Whitebook - Trade / Investment Issues and Recommendations (Whitebook) - is published annually by the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam and identifies the year’s focal business, trade and investment issues affecting our members, the business community and, in many cases society at large. The Whitebook is EuroCham’s annual report, where the chamber’s 17 Sector Committees raise the issues most important to their business operations and highlight specific actions the Government could take to improve the business environment and increase trade and investment with the EU especially in infrastructure, customs, commerce, smart and sustainable development in industry, consumption and medicine.
A representative from EU enterprises said that HCMC is short of land for logistics. According to the representative, the city should have warehouses in good place near city downtown. A representative of the Department of Industry and Trade said that 623-ha warehouses in districts 2, 9, Thu Duc and in outlying districts Cu Chi and Nha Be near downtown area.
In regard to tariff, EuroCham Deputy Chairman Tomaso Andreatta proposed to reduce half of registration tax on imported vehicle like domestically-assembled ones and enterprises can delay paying value-added tax until enterprises have already sold their products. Additionally, Vietnamese government should take heed of electric vehicles and environmentally friendly vehicles to reduce pollution.
Deputy Head of the city Tax Department Nguyen Nam Binh said that the Ministry of Finance has been reviewing to cut fees to aid enterprises. Upon enterprises’ complaint of inconsistent VAT rate on medical equipment causing difficulties for them, Mr. Binh said that the Department will suggest an insistent tax on such commodity.
Last but not least, meeting participants also raised their voice about support for tourism sector which has badly been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.