In an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency, the Deputy Minister, who is also secretary general of the inter-sectoral steering committee for international integration, stressed that the TPP is only one among many multi-lateral cooperative frameworks that Vietnam joins as part of its international process.
He said the country joined TPP with the main goals of restructuring its economic institutions, accessing external resources necessary for restructuring and sustainable growth, expanding export markets and increasing access to supply chains.
The delay of TPP surely will affect those goals but it will not change Vietnam’s integration trend and direction, Deputy Minister Hai said, noting that the renovation and reform of economic institutions are an inevitable need and the policy of the Vietnamese Party and State, as seen in resolutions of recent National Party Congresses and the Government’s National Strategy for Sustainable Development for 2011-2020. Therefore, Vietnam will continue to proactively reform its economic institutions, and the TPP only serves as a catalyst for the reform to take place quicker.
Hai pointed out that in terms of both extent and scale, TPP is an important free trade agreement but not the only one, adding that Vietnam has signed and enforced 10 other FTAs, concluded negotiations on one FTA and is negotiating 4 others. Those FTAs involve almost all main trade partners of Vietnam, such as the ASEAN, EU, Japan, Russia, China, the Republic of Korea and Australia. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s trade and investment ties with the US are covered by a bilateral trade agreement (BTA), a framework agreement on trade and investment (TIFA) and WTO commitments.
According to the Deputy Minister, while the possible failure or delay of the TPP may weaken the driving force for growth, the past negotiations for the deal have already created a momentum of institutional reform in Vietnam, and the process will continue regardless of whether the TPP is enforced or not.
Furthermore, Vietnam’s comparative advantages in terms of production costs, geographical location, geo-political conditions and signed FTAs with major economic powers, such as the Eurasia Economic Union, EU, Japan and the RoK, continue to help promote economic-trade growth and attract foreign investors.
Deputy Minister Do Thang Hai said in order to make full use of FTAs, the MoIT has outlined six groups of solutions, one of which is to enhance the knowledge and consensus of society, particularly enterprises and business people, about international agreements, especially opportunities, challenges and requirements when joining and implementing new-generation FTAs.
The legal system should be perfected and law enforcement capacity strengthened to ensure the enforcement of FTAs, while key officials of all sectors and administrations at all levels as well as business executives, lawyers and prosecutors should receive training in international laws.
A group of solutions focus on increasing the competition capacity of the national economy, of each sector, each locality and each enterprise. The State apparatus should be reformed to enhance its operation effectiveness and efficiency. The investment and business climate must be further improved along with perfecting institutions of the socialist-oriented market economy.
External relation work should be accelerated to enhance the country’s prestige and position and deepen ties with foreign partners.
Social affairs should receive due attention when enforcing new-generation FTAs, especially the building of a full legal framework for labour relations and issues arising during FTA enforcement, along with policies guaranteeing social support for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in society.
Environmental issues are also very important when carrying out FTA commitments, calling for a complete set of regulations on corporate social responsibilities for consumers and the environment, and ensure the effective and economical use of natural resources.