Free trade agreements (FTAs) may have significantly reduced import tariffs in many markets for Vietnamese goods, but administrative reform, reduction of trading costs and improving the business environment are key to improving national competitiveness, a forum heard in HCM City yesterday.
Phạm Bình An, director of the HCM City International Integration Support Centre, told “The HCM City International Economic Integration Forum 2018: Trade facilitation and enhancing competitiveness” that Vietnam had 17 FTAs with 60 nations and they offer the nation’s economy the chance to transform.
Ngô Chung Khanh, deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s multilateral trade policy department, said: “FTAs have enhanced the competitiveness of enterprises through market access and increased exports.”
“Export turnover has sharply increased from US$5.4 billion in 2006 to $213.8 billion this year.”
Nguyễn Ánh Dương, head of the Central Institute for Economic Management’s macroeconomics policy department, said: “Vietnam trade costs are estimated to decrease by 18.3 per cent if the commitments under WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement are fully implemented.
“Vietnam trade facilitation rankings are middling in the world and in ASEAN, and far behind neighbouring nations like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.”
In the World Bank’s trading across borders rankings, Vietnam is 94th out of 190 countries, in the World Economic Forum’s enabling trade index, it is 73rd out of 136 nations and in the World Bank’s logistics performance index, it ranks 64th out of 160.
According to the World Economic Forum, if nations can improve border administration and transport and communications infrastructure halfway to global best practice, global GDP can add 4.7 per cent, equivalent to US$2.6 trillion, global trade can grow by 14.5 per cent, equivalent to $1.6 trillion, and the benefits from trade cost reduction can be much higher than from tariff reduction.
The Government’s efforts to create and sustain a favourable environment for trade have not been very successful.
The event attracted 300 attendees, including officials from HCM City, related ministries and departments, international organisations, business groups, universities, and research institutes from HCM City and neighbouring provinces.
It is organised by the HCM City Institute for Development Studies and the HCM City International Integration Support Centre in collaboration with the Central Institute for Economic Management planned, who plan to make it an annual event.