Japanese Investors Call for Retail Trade Reform

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Sept. 10 – Japanese investors have called on Vietnamese authorities to clarify procedures for licensing foreign retail outlets during a Japanese Business Association meeting in Ho Chi Minh City last week.

Members of the group suggested that the government issue specific guidelines on how foreign businesses can pass the World Trade Organization standard, the Economic Needs Test (ENT), to be awarded a license to establish more than two retail outlets in the country.

The ENT is there to prevent saturation in retail sectors but qualifications for it remain unclear. Businesses say that no agency has been appointed to administer the ENT and what standards are used to determine results of the test.

Senior investment advisor at the Japan External Trade Organization’s office in Ho Chi Minh City, Hirota Nakanishi, said that retail outlets and convenience stores would thrive in Vietnam if prerequisite regulations were clear to foreign investors.

The government should not only issue the ENT guidelines soon, it should also simplify licensing procedures, he added.

Since joining the World Trade Organization in 2007, Vietnam has issued an estimated 216 licenses to foreign investors; allowing them to import and export goods.