Vietnam: New Laws to be in Effect in 2019

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In 2018, the Vietnamese government passed several new and amended laws which are going to come into effect in 2019. The laws primarily focus on wages, environmental projects, food industry, rural development, cybersecurity, and administrative procedures.

Labor

Minimum Wage

According to Decree No. 157/2018/ND-CP, the regional minimum wage in Vietnam as of January 1, 2019, will be increased by VND160,000 to VND200,000.

  • Region 1 – VND4.18 million (US$180);
  • Region 2 – VND3.71 million (US$160);
  • Region 3 – VND3.25 million (US$140); and
  • Region 4 – VND2.92 million (US$125).

Workplace democracy

In effect since January 1, 2019, Decree No.149/2018/ND-CP, prescribes the contents and forms of application of workplace democracy at companies, cooperatives, households, and individuals hiring and having employees under labor contracts.  

Laws related to industries

Law on cybersecurity

The law on cybersecurity, which is in effect since January 1, 2019, focuses on regulating cyberspace activities and maintaining social order and security. It also covers the responsibilities of government agencies, individuals, and internet companies and requires companies to store data locally, open representative offices in Vietnam, and hand over any user information as requested by the government.

Tertiary education

The revised Law on Tertiary Education which will come into effect on July 1, 2019, focuses on increasing university autonomy, expanding the education system, and developing a system for different universities to share resources.

In addition, it also focuses on the development of private universities along with public universities and introduces news changes in university administration and council in areas such as hiring, development strategy, and investments.

Dredging operations

Decree No. 159/2018/ND-CP, which will come into effect from January 11, 2019, focuses on the management of dredging activities in seaport water and inland water areas.

It stipulates that dredging projects need to be evaluated for environmental impact in accordance with the environmental protection law. In the case of maintenance dredging projects with regular annual work volume, the environmental impact assessment is carried out annually or cyclical basis up to five years.

Civil aviation violations

Decree No. 162/2018/ND-CP will come into effect on January 15, 2019, recommends penalties for administrative violations in the civil aviation sector.

Violations of regulations in areas such as aircraft operations and maintenance, airport management, environmental protection, aviation personnel, flight activities, and passenger behavior will attract fines and sanctions from the government.

Food safety

According to Decision No. 47/2018/QD-TTg, pilot food safety investigations will be carried out at nine provinces and cities including Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong City, Da Nang City, Can Tho City, Thanh Hoa Province, Ha Tinh Province, Dong Nai Province and Gia Lai Province from 2019.

In addition, Circular No. 117/2018/TT-BTC which will come into effect on January 15, 2019, reduces some fees for food safety and hygiene inspections for testing establishments, conformity certification organizations, and state inspection agencies on imported foods.

For the first assessment, the fees have been reduced from VND32 million to VND28.5 million per application and establishment. Re-evaluation fees have been reduced from VND22.5 million to VND20.5 million.

Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries

Agriculture and rural development

Issued by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Circular No. 04/2018/TT-BKHDT comes into effect from January 21, 2019.

It guides the implementation of Decree No. 57/2018/ND-CP, which covers policies for encouraging enterprises to invest in the agriculture and rural sector.

Forestry Law

The Forestry Law includes forestry activities, prohibited acts, government policies, forest classifications, planning, forest management, protection, and use of forests. It is already in effect since January 1, 2019.

Fisheries Law

Already in effect since January 1, 2019, the Fisheries Law covers fishing activities, rights and obligations of enterprises and individuals engaged in fishing activities, and state management of the sector.

Business activities

Single window

In effect from January 6, 2019, Circular No. 01/2018/TT-VPCP guides the implementation of several provisions in Decree No. 61/2018/ND-CP, which focuses on the implementation of a single window mechanism for handling administrative procedures.

Competition Law

In June 2018, the government passed a new Competition Law, replacing the 2004 version of the law. The new law which focuses on competition restraining agreements, market dominance, economic concentration, and unfair practices, will be in effect from 1 July 2019.

The new law has expanded its scope and now includes both Vietnamese and foreign companies and individuals in case their actions have or potentially have a competition restriction impact on the domestic market. Competition restriction impact is the impact which will exclude, reduce, or hinder competition in the market.

The Vietnamese government will also have authority over offshore activities if there is an impact on the domestic market. The law will apply to foreign entities part of competition-restricting agreements, economic concentration, or other unfair activities even if they do not have a subsidiary in Vietnam.

Anti-Corruption

The government revised the anti-corruption law in November 2018, to deal with corruption in the private sector. In addition to the private sector, the revised law also includes the duties of the agencies and organizations involved in controlling corruption.

The law will be in effect from July 1, 2019.

Environmental

Environmental protection tax

The government has introduced a resolution, raising the environmental protection tax for petroleum products, coal and plastic bags from January 1, 2019. New taxes for various products are:

  • Anthracite coal – Increased from VND20,000 to VND30,000 per ton;
  • Other types of coal – Increased from VND10,000 to VND15,000 per ton;
  • HCFC, ozone-depleting substances, greenhouse gases – Increased from VND4,000 to VND5,000 per kilogram;
  • Plastic bags – Increased from VND40,000 to VND50,000 per kilogram;
  • Gasoline – Increased from VND 3,000 to VND4,000 per liter;
  • Kerosene – Increased from VND300 to VND1,000 per liter; and
  • Lubricants and Heavy fuel oil – Increased from VND900 to VND2,000 per liter.

Other laws which are in effect since January 1, 2019, include the Law on Denunciation, Law on Measurement and Map, Law on Physical Training and Sports, Law on Amending and Supplementing to 11 laws related to planning, Law on Defence, Law on Planning, and regulations related to natural disaster prevention and control.


Vietnam Briefing is produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists foreign investors throughout Asia from offices across the world, including in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.  Readers may write vietnam@dezshira.com for more support on doing business in Vietnam.  

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