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7:25 PM, 14/12/2015

PM urges businesses to sharpen competitive edge

VGP - The Government and the business community must work together to promote strength in order to enhance competitiveness for successful regional integration, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said.

At a meeting with businesses who participated in the Forum "Viet Nam Business Towards ASEAN Economic Community" held in Ha Noi on December 13, the PM said there was no way but integration to help Viet Nam gain rapid and sustainable growth.

In integration, the business community must be a pioneer through the enhancement of effective management and technological innovation to reduce costs. The Government meanwhile can help only through opening more markets as well as improving institutional and administrative reforms to facilitate business.

He affirmed that the Party, State and Government always created favourable conditions for local people to do business, as well as helping local enterprises to globally integrate successfully.

He stressed that the last five years were Viet Nam's turning point for international integration, especially for the international economic integration. With the completion of the negotiations of 12 free trade agreements, Viet Nam now has free trade relations with 55 countries, including 15 of the top 20 largest economies in the world.

Through integration, enterprises have become mature and the State has also streamlined institutions and laws consistent with international practices.

However, the biggest challenge facing the nation and its businesses is weak competitiveness while the target of the country in the next five years is to grow faster and more sustainably.

On this occasion, the PM required the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) to gather recommendations from the business community so that the Government could issue more policies to further ease the work of doing business and integrate successfully. 

At the forum, VCCI Chairman Vu Tien Loc said that participation in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) would not create problems for Vietnamese enterprises, as commitments to the community are similar to those made to the World Trade Organisation. 

However, to seize opportunities within the AEC, Loc urged local enterprises to continue efforts to prepare for their participation, noting that the business communities of other ASEAN countries might be better prepared than Viet Nam. 

According to reports of the ASEAN Studies Centre (ISEAS – Singapore), up to 90% of enterprises in Malaysia, more than 81% of enterprises in Singapore and 50% of enterprises in other ASEAN countries had prepared for doing business with the AEC. These countries' enterprises have opened compulsory courses to train employees in foreign languages of those AEC countries where the firms are about to open business establishments. Meanwhile, in Viet Nam, surveys have showed that only 35% of local enterprises are knowledgeable about the AEC.

Experts at the forum, therefore, urged local businesses to make greater efforts to become knowledgeable about the AEC and enact further reforms to meet ASEAN and international standards. 

According to Pham Thi Thu Hang, Secretary General of VCCI, Viet Nam's businesses are very optimistic about the prospects that FTAs can bring, and see few disadvantages in their being enacted.

Hang said that most local businesses recognised AEC as an opportunity to gain access to new markets and increase exports, but the gains would be relatively limited. 

"In fact, the agreement aims to produce a unified market and production base, and it is the long-term benefits that enterprises in ASEAN should seek," Hang said. 

Hang attributed the shortcomings to a lack of initiatives in gathering information from local businesses, particularly specific information in each field that will strongly influence business strategies of the businesses, Hang said. 

However, she noted, there are many advantages that Viet Nam's businesses have and they should promote these in the future.

"It is the ability to rapidly integrate into the world economy and make a leap," Hang said. 

Addressing the forum, economist Vo Tri Thanh said Viet Nam must capitalise on the AEC, as it presents an opportunity for the country to avoid a middle income trap. 

Thanh recommended that the Government, businesses and even local people learn about competitors so that they can make accurate forecasts about their rivals' strategies./.-VNA

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