Legal & Regulatory

Vietnam Regulatory Brief: Bank Mergers, Consumer Lending Caps, and Economic Restructuring

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Compulsory M&A for weak banks

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) will be submitting a draft plan to the government on restructuring the credit institutions to reduce bad debts during the 2016-2020 period, by encouraging mergers and acquisitions (M&A) for weak credit institutions such as commercial banks, financial institutions, financial leasing companies, and people’s credit unions. The SBV will also have the authority to compel institutions enter into M&A deals to ensure stability. The SBV has identified five weak commercial banks in need for restructuring and aims to restructure them in 2017. Investors are also encouraged to be part of the restructuring to reduce the number of weaker firms.

Smaller banks are unable to compete in the market due to declining profits, poor administration, and reduced chartered capital, currently standing at US$131 million (VND3 trillion). Banks such as SaigonBank and DongABank also issued preferred stock to increase their chartered capital, but stockholders are not willing to invest further due to reduced growth, affecting the lending capabilities and total assets of the bank. Industry experts have suggested increasing the FDI cap in banking sector to more than 30 percent for foreign investors.

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Customs Procedures in Vietnam

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By: Dezan Shira & Associates

Following the relevant customs procedures when importing or exporting goods from Vietnam is one of the most vital aspects of doing business in a country where manufacturing costs are leveraged to its favor. Goods to be imported or exported are subject to the relevant customs clearance standards, which effectively check the quality, specifications, quantity and volume of the goods. Currently, these standards are set out under Law No. 54/2014/QH13 on Customs as well as numerous implementing decrees and guiding circulars.

Following the standards set by the Vietnamese government, certain imported goods are subject to inspection. For example, imported pharmaceuticals must undergo testing and also include documents detailing product use, dosage and expiration dates (written in Vietnamese), which must also be included in or on the product packaging.

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Understanding Vietnam’s Import and Export Regulations

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By: Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Edward Barbour-Lacey

Once an investor has set up their trading company within Vietnam, it is important that their workers gain a strong understanding of the country’s import and export regulations and procedures. Below we lay out the key takeaways that companies must be aware of before starting their trading activities in Vietnam.

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Vietnam Approves New Fees for Foreigners and Foreign Firms

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Maxfield Vandel Brown

Since January 2017, a range of policies have come into effect for foreigners and foreign firms. The introduced changes impact international tourism companies, foreign advertisement firms, trade offices, foreign crew on ships, and visa processing.  

Passport and visa fees

According to Circular No.219/2016/TT-BTC, the stipulated fee for a single-entry visa for foreigners will be US$25 (VND 570,000) for a single individual, while the price of a multiple-entry visa for a duration of three to 12 months ranges from US$50 to US$155 (VND 1.14 million to VND 3.55 million). Exemptions will be applicable for guests (including spouses and children) invited by the government.

Fees for overseas diplomatic missions

As per Circular No.264/2016/TT-BTC, the naturalization process will cost US$250 (VND 5.7 million) per person. Charges for restoring nationality will be the same as registering for retaining ones nationality, namely US$200 (VND 4.57 million). Fees for issuing new passports are fixed at US$70 (VND 1.6 million) while charges for extending diplomatic and public passports are US$30 (VND 684,210).

Government invited guests, employees, and technical staff (including spouses and children) of foreign diplomatic and consular representative missions are exempt from the fees.

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An Introduction to Doing Business in Vietnam 2017 – New Publication from Dezan Shira & Associates

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DSA_Doing Business in Vietnam 2017_cover_250x350pxAn Introduction to Doing Business in Vietnam 2017, the latest publication from Dezan Shira & Associates, is out now and available for complimentary download through the Asia Briefing Publication Store.

Vietnam stands as a key country in the ASEAN region. Located advantageously near China and to important shipping lanes, with a growing population and middle class, Vietnam is a dynamic and growing country that is increasingly attractive to foreign businesses looking to expand their operations in Asia. 

There are a number of key advantages that make Vietnam stand out from the rest of Asia. Unlike many other countries in the region, Vietnam’s government is very stable and committed to seeing the country grow. Consumer confidence is strong and improving. Labor costs are currently 50 percent those of China and around 40 percent of those reported in Thailand and the Philippines. The country’s workforce is seeing an annual increase of 1.5 million people, and its workers are young and, increasingly, highly skilled.  

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Vietnam Regulatory Brief: Rice Exports, Government Workforce Reduction, and Gambling

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Government eases restrictions for rice exporters 

Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) approved an agreement easing restrictions on rice exporters. Under the previous regulation, the maximum number of rice exporters was capped at 150, who were all required to meet certain standards on storage and factories. Companies holding licenses to export rice were required to have at least one warehouse with a minimum capacity to store 5,000 tons of rice and a rice husking factory with a minimum capacity of 10 tons of paddy per hour. The facilities also had to be in planned areas. 

Due to these restrictions, companies developing their own rice were forced to use intermediaries rather than having the ability to export directly. Companies with rice export certificates were required to export at least 10,000 tons of rice per year or 20,000 tons of rice in two years in case the first year quota was not reached. The abolition of the regulations is in line with the government’s plan of removing unsuitable laws as per the Investment Law 2014. The move has been lauded by rice export companies. 

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Vietnam Regulatory Brief: Work Permits, Enterprise Registration, and Competition Cases

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New Guidelines in Effect for Issuing Work Permits

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) issued Circular No. 40/2016/TTBLDTBXH providing guidance on implementation of Decree No. 11/2016/ND-CP, effective December 12, for work permits issued to foreign workers in Vietnam. The key change is the transfer of authorization from The Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (DOLISA) to MOLISA for certain types of enterprises. MOLISA will be responsible for approving proposals for using foreign laborers, identifying unlicensed foreign workers, reusing and revoking work licenses and deportation of unlicensed foreign laborers.

The organizations under the authority of MOLISA are state agencies, business associations established based on legal regulations, foreign non-governmental organizations, foreign entities in Vietnam, operational offices of international organizations in Vietnam and projects with foreign investment. Public organizations functioning under the ministries, ministerial-level agencies, organizations established by the government and the Prime Minister, also fall under the scope of MOLISA. DOLISA will still be the authority for approving demand for foreign laborers from contractors. Employers are therefore required to inform either MOLISA or the Chairman of the Provisional People’s Committee 30 days prior to hiring foreign laborers or if there is a change in demand for such workers.

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Making Use of Shareholder Meetings in Vietnam

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By: Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Mike Vinkenborg

As in many countries across the world, instituting changes at a corporate level in Vietnam requires the approval of a majority of shareholders during a shareholder meeting. The Law on Enterprises outlines matters that can be discussed and decided during these meetings, what is required to convene shareholder meetings, and what percentage of shareholders, or members, are required to successfully pass decisions.

The latest update of the Law on Enterprises was passed in late 2014 and has been effective since July 2015, bringing with it some changes to the way shareholder meetings are being held. This article outlines how shareholder meetings in Vietnam are used, what can be achieved during these meetings, and how meetings differ between corporate structures.

Given the significant growth of foreign investment seen in recent years, in conjunction with market opportunities emerging each day, navigating the ins and outs of shareholder meetings will be an important consideration for new market entrants when structuring their holdings in Vietnam.

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Vietnam Regulatory Brief: New Zealand Diplomacy, Sports Betting, and e-Commerce Transfer Pricing

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Vietnam, New Zealand to Continue Strong Ties

Vietnam and New Zealand are expected to continue forging close ties. New Zealand has reiterated its committed to providing Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Vietnam particularly in education, human resources, agriculture and rural development. The developments came about during talks between New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully and Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Auckland on December 2. New Zealand also wants to increase imports and exports from Vietnam. This will be done by assessing the risk value of Vietnamese fruits while easing the sale of Vietnamese farm products and seafood in the market.

Officials also want to strengthen co-operation on national defense and security, education, people-to-people exchange and labor issues. Direct flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Auckland were already increasing tourism between both countries. Additionally, the countries want to extend the current Action Programme, effective until the end of 2016, to 2019. The Action Programme is an agreement between the two countries to support each other in regional and global forums. In addition, bilateral economic and trade is expected to reach US$1.7 billion by 2020 between the two countries.

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Vietnam Announces 7.3 Percent Wage Hike for 2017

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on August 30, 2016, and has been updated as of November 25, 2016, to include finalized wages passed by the Vietnamese National Assembly.
Vietnamese Minimum Wage 2017

By: Anh Ta

Vietnam’s National Wage Council has decided upon a modest 7.3 percent average increase in monthly minimum wages across the country for 2017. From January, workers must be compensated between minimums of VND 2.58 million (US$113) to VND 3.75 million (US$165). This is the lowest annual increase since 1997 and seems to be a compromise between the employers’ proposed increase of 5 percent and that of workers which pushed for an 11 percent increase. The decision also seems to be in response to competition from fellow manufacturing powerhouses in the region and hence primarily an effort to maintain its attractiveness to foreign investors and businesses.

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