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VN should not become a place where investors exploit only cheap labor

Vietnam wants foreign investors to come to cooperate and not build closed facilities that are separate oases in the economy, former chair of the Vietnam Confederation of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc said.

At a recent event organized by the HCM City Business Association, Loc said Vietnam must not become the place where foreign investors come just to seek cheap labor force and natural resources.

Foreign firms should come to Vietnam because it is a country of startups and creativity and the FDI flows into Vietnam must not be just like economic aids, he said.

Vietnam has failed to implement the wishes of the officials who drafted the country’s FDI attraction plan. Previously, Vietnam had a committee in charge of FDI attraction, called the State Committee for Cooperation and Investment. The word investment stands next to the word cooperation.

Vietnam wanted foreign companies to come to cooperate, not just to build closed facilities. Even in the field of food catering, some foreign invested enterprises (FIEs) use services provided by companies from their country, but don’t seek services from Vietnam’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Meanwhile, the world is changing. The concept of integration and freedom has been replaced with integration, freedom and fairness. Fairness is important. Nationalism is rising in each country and the sense of self-strengthening of economies is being promoted. 

At present, Vietnam’s economy relies heavily on exports and foreign investment. Autonomy and self-reliance of business owners remain weak.

“If Vietnam cannot use the foreign invested sector as a driving force that helps it renovate technology, foreign capital flow won’t have a spreading effect, and won’t connect the domestic economy. And we won’t be able to develop the business community,” Loc said.

FDI filters 

For these reasons, Loc said Vietnam’s investment attraction policy needs to change.

“Vietnam has Resolution 50 on foreign investment and cooperation, and now it needs to have an FDI filter as well. The state needs to set up standards and regulations to force FIEs to connect with the domestic economy when they operate in Vietnam,” Loc said.

Dang Van Thanh, president of Thanh Thanh Cong Group, said that in order to have an everlasting economy, it is necessary to ‘build’ and not just ‘start up’. The ‘building’ could be implemented by businesspeople who take responsibility for the domestic 100-million consumer market. 

The General Statistics Office (GSO) reported that $18.75 billion worth of FDI was registered in Vietnam as of September 20, a drop of 15.3 percent compared with the same period last year.

Tran Chung

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