Conference on “The Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations: Opportunities and Challenges for Vietnam”

At Hanoi city:
Time: 8:00 – 11:30 Thursday, November 04th, 2010
Place: Fortuna Hotel, No. 6B, Lang Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi City

At Ho Chi Minh city:
Time: 8:00 – 11:30 Friday, November 05th, 2010
Place: Continental Saigon Hotel, 132 – 134 Dong Khoi Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

On November 4th, 2010, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) coordinated with Miller & Chevalier Chartered held a conference “The Trans-pacific Partnership Negotiations (TPP) – Opportunities and Challenges for Vietnam” in Hanoi. About 200 participants from State agencies, business associations, enterprises, press agents and related agencies attended the seminar.

This event belongs to VCCI’s Program “Enterprises and International Trade Policies” in the framework of Project MUTRAP III (Multilateral Trade Assistance Project, Component III EU – Vietnam) sponsored by European Union.

In the opening speech, Mr. Tran Huu Huynh – President of the Committee on International Trade Policies of VCCI said that Vietnam has already signed 6 bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements (FTA). FTAs are a chance for Vietnam to be deeper integrated into the world economy (not like WTO accession is a kind of “broad” integration). However, the matter here is Vietnam should negotiate FTA with whom, at what level and what time? Currently, the Trans-pacific Partnership Negotiations (TPP) is of great concern to Vietnam as one of the 7 negotiating partners is the United States – a very important market of Vietnam.

Main speaker of the Conference, Mr. Jay Eizenstat, senior lawyer of Miller & Chevalier Chartered made a presentation providing an overview of TPP and the U.S. objectives in these negotiations. Accordingly, Vietnam is one of the most concerns of the U.S in TPP because of great and growing trade transaction between the two countries. Mr. Jay also pointed out difficulties and challenges for Vietnam when joining TPP as it is a high-standard and comprehensive free trade agreement while Vietnam is still constrained in implementation and capacity.

However, it is also a “not to be missed” opportunity for Vietnam to increase export and enhance domestic competitiveness capacity. Specifically, we can see most near-term market access benefits in sectors like Aquaculture, Textiles and Apparel, Footwear, Furniture…due to significant tariff cut/reductions.

One matter raised and discussed by participants is what Vietnam should do and how to negotiate to yield the best all the benefits brought in by TPP in particular and FTAs in general. In fact, each industry must take into account all risks and benefits gained from TPP, in the context of general benefits of the whole economy, to have proper policy recommendations to the Government. According to the senior economic expert Pham Chi Lan, everything has two faces, economic integration contains both opportunities and challenges, but it does not mean Vietnam should stand outside FTAs to miss such clear benefits.

The conference concluded with the consensus of the participants that joining TPP is good for Vietnam, but how to join and what should be prepared need consultations between the government and business community to have best negotiating strategy to take full advantage of TPP.

A similar conference is also held in Hochiminh city in November 5th 2010.

Download conference documents here: