Vietnam opens up logistics sector to foreign companies

Foreign investors will be given the go-ahead to set up logistics companies in Vietnam, but with conditions on ownership and services, according to Government Decree 163 on logistics services which will come into force on February 20.

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Foreign investors are given the green light to establish maritime shipping companies, except for domestic services.

They are required to meet some requirements such as their vessels carrying the Vietnamese flag, their captains and first vice captains being Vietnamese citizens, and the number of their foreign crewmen being less than one-third of the total on board.

Overseas investors who offer container loading and unloading services can set up their own companies, or hold a stake of below 50% in local enterprises.

Those providing goods customs clearance services can also do the aforementioned services. However, they have the right to establish a commercial presence in the form of business cooperation contract only.

Foreigners are allowed to set up companies specializing in goods shipping services by inland waterway and rail, or acquire stakes of less than 49% in local companies in the same sector.

Those active in road cargo transport can set up their own companies, but all of their drivers must be Vietnamese citizens.

According to the decree, they also must fulfill business investment requirements in line with regulations for their services. Besides, they must compensate their customers if goods become defective in their shipping process.

Statistics of the Vietnam Logistics Association indicate Vietnam has around 3,000 local companies, with 1,300 being small and medium enterprises, in the logistics sector. However, they hold a market share of a mere 25%. Meanwhile, 25 foreign companies make up the remaining proportion, mainly in international transport services.

The association said the domestic logistics sector has an annual growth rate of 15-16%. The Logistics Performance Index of the World Bank indicates that Vietnam was ranked 64th among 160 countries, and took the fourth place among ASEAN countries behind Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in 2016.

However, logistics cost accounted for 20.8% of gross domestic product, totaling a whopping US$41.26 billion in 2016. 

Saigon Times

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