Vietnam’s 2015 World Trade Organization Obligations

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HCMC – Vietnam became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on January 11, 2007. As part of its membership, Vietnam committed to a number of economic reforms which it would undertake over a period of years. 2015 marks the last of the reforms that Vietnam must make.

Specifically, the year 2015 will see the following restrictions abolished:

  • Hotels and restaurants (including lodging services, food catering, and drink services):
    • Abolished Restrictions: the services provided should be in parallel with investment in hotel construction, renovation, restoration, or acquisition.
  • Services incidental to manufacturing:
    • Abolished Restrictions: After three years from the date of WTO accession, only joint ventures with foreign capital contributions not exceeding 50 percent shall be permitted. Five years thereon: 100 percent foreign invested enterprises shall be permitted.

Related Link IconRELATED: Understanding Vietnam’s Import and Export Regulations

While the WTO obligations have opened up many sectors of Vietnam to foreign investment, a number of areas will continue to have restrictions for the foreseeable future.  These areas include the following:

  • Distribution services; Commission agents’ services; Wholesale trade services; Retailing services:
    • Restriction: The establishment of outlets for retail services (beyond the first one) shall be allowed on the basis of an Economic Needs Test (ENT). An ENT exemption is applicable for FDI firms who wish to open more retail stores. However, firms are also required to apply for a new business license for every single additional store.
  • Architectural services; Engineering services; Integrated engineering services; Urban planning and urban landscape architectural services; Veterinary services:
    • Restriction: Foreign enterprises have to be business entities of a WTO Member nation.
  • Construction and related engineering services:
    • Restriction: Foreign enterprises have to be business entities of a WTO Member nation.
  • Legal services:
    • Restriction: Foreign lawyers’ organizations are permitted to establish commercial presence in Viet Nam in the following forms:
      • Branches of foreign lawyers organizations
      • Subsidiaries of foreign lawyers organizations
      • Foreign law firms
      • Partnerships between foreign lawyers’ organizations and Vietnam’s law partnerships

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