Decade-long WTO membership requires Viet Nam to work harder

Viet Nam has grown vigorously thanks to expanded diplomatic relations and reformed policies after joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 2007.

A large number of experts assessed that the WTO's accession helped Viet Nam open big doors to join global playing fields.

Reforms but still slowly

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) reported that despite negative impacts from the global financial crisis and public debt issue, Viet Nam still maintained an average growth rate of 6.29%.

GDP per capita jumped from US$ 730 in 2006 to US$ 2,228 in 2015; and US$ 2,445 in 2016. The economic structure was transformed positively with higher proportions of industry and trade.

The MoIT also added that since its WTO membership, Viet Nam's export turnover reached 12-14% per year, and it only showed signs of decline in recent time. The country's export turnover also increased 3.5 times against 2006. These figures showed that the economy has yet missed opportunities from the historic event.

Moreover, after the ten-year period, Viet Nam absorbed over 22,000 FDI projects with a total registered capital of nearly US$ 300 billion. Especially, a series of global leading groups selected the Southeast Asian nation as their production sites, namely Samsung, LG, Toyota, Honda, and Canon.

So far, the country has signed 12 multilateral and bilateral FTAs with other partners, including the Viet Nam-EU FTA and the Viet Nam-Korea FTA. The country is negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, a new generation FTA with high commitments.

Besides FTAs which were inked or are being negotiated, the country is on the path to reach other four FTAs, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Former Deputy Minister of Trade Luong Van Tu, who headed the Vietnamese WTO negotiation delegation said that in the post-WTO accession period, Vietnamese enterprises were able to seize opportunities from the strong foreign investment inflows; thus learning experience, management skills, making use of technology transferred by developed countries like the U.S. and Japan.

However, the restructuring process of SOEs remained slow and unfinished. The abundant labor force still failed to meet high demand for foreign languages, work performance, and productivity.

Former WTO General Director Pascal Lamy stressed that Viet Nam set a successful example in the integration process as the country tapped competitive advantages in human resources power and labor productivity. The country had advantages in electricity, garments and textiles, and farm products.

According to Mr. Pascal Lamy, thanks to the development of external relations and reformed policies, Viet Nam has been moving forward.

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh assessed that the 10-year WTO membership is not a long path with both opportunities and challenges for Vietnamese enterprises and businesses.

Avoiding from being left behind

Besides remarkable achievements, a large number of experts showed their concerns about the less-than-expected performance of domestic enterprises.

Though made-in-Viet Nam products have used better technologies and secured more export markets, the proportion of exports with domestic content remain modest without distinctive hallmarks of Vietnamese enterprises.

Mr. Vo Tri Thanh, Vice President of Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) said that Viet Nam needs policies that drive enterprises to raise their competitive capacity and focus on the auxiliary industries.

Mr. Pascal Lamy assessed that Viet Nam would maintain competitive advantages in human resources even amidst the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4.0). However, the country would lose the advantage if it pays inadequate investment in the talented.

Experts proposed Viet Nam conduct reforms; especially overcoming the negative reverse of a single window mechanism and renovating the State administrative apparatus; controlling the domestic market in a transparent manner.

Especially, they recommended Viet Nam pursue the business restructuring and develop infrastructure services, focusing on potential and advantageous services, as well as green logistics services.

In the coming time, Viet Nam should make breakthroughs in science and technology and produce added value exports./.

Source: Online Newspaper of the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam