Change to adapt with commitments of FTAs

VCN – As an important part of the economy, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are concerned with the commitments in many free trade agreements (FTAs).

The suitable business environment for small and medium enterprises

To evaluate the compatibility of Vietnam's current policies and laws in implementing commitments on SMEs in FTAs, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) held a consultation meeting on "Evaluation of Vietnam's current policies and laws with commitments on SMEs in FTAs ​​that Vietnam participates in”.

According to Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, Director of the WTO and International Trade Center (under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry - VCCI), by the end of 2021, Vietnam has signed and implemented a total of 15 FTAs, in which new-generation and high-standard FTAs ​​such as EVFTA, CPTPP, RCEP have brought SMEs into an issue in the commitment documents with separate chapters or specific commitments.

Mrs. Trang said that the effective implementation of commitments on SMEs in these FTAs ​​was expected to help Vietnamese SMEs achieve a more suitable business environment and create more favorable conditions for SMEs to exploit the commitments of FTAs, thereby making better use of opportunities and preparing more effectively for challenges in the FTAs.

Small and medium enterprises still face many challenges when taking advantage of opportunities from FTA. Source: Internet
Small and medium enterprises still face many challenges when taking advantage of opportunities from FTA. Source: Internet

At the meeting, experts from the Project on Promoting Reform and Improving the Connectivity of SMEs (USAID Link SME) presented results in the draft study "Review of Vietnam's policies and laws with the commitments on SMEs in Vietnam's FTAs" conducted by USAID LinkSME for supporting VCCI based on the study of the compatibility of domestic laws and policies with the requirements of the commitments in four FTAs, which are the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Free Trade Agreement between Vietnam and the European Union (EVFTA), Free Trade Agreement between Vietnam and the United Kingdom - Northern Ireland (UKVFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Accordingly, through review and evaluation,the research showed that Vietnamese laws and policies related to SMEs were basically compatible with commitments on SMEs in the four FTAs.

In most cases, Vietnam has made good use of reservations about SME-specific measures in its FTA commitments, especially in the aspects of subsidies and financial support for SMEs.

Viet Nam also ensures the practical implementation of commitments on a predictable legal system and effective procedures or providing information for SMEs to make effective use of FTAs.

Need to continue to adjust

Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Ha, consultant of USAID Link SME, said that in terms of subsidies and support for SMEs, all four FTAs ​​had this commitment. The results showed that Vietnam had built a system of policies and laws on supporting SMEs with measures of incentives, subsidies and support in different aspects for SMEs, including regulations applied stably or temporarily to SMEs.

However, in some respects, Vietnam had not taken full advantage of the allowed exceptions, so it is necessary to study to continue supplementing policies and legal regulations on essential support and measures for SMEs, especially in the context of restoring production post-Covid-19.

Regarding customs and trade facilitation, the research showed that, except for the CPTPP, the remaining three FTAs ​​all have commitments on SMEs, focusing on three aspects: general commitment to simplifying customs procedures, ensuring efficient procedures, reducing costs, increasing predictability for SMEs; commitment on the conditions for applying for a pre-determined application, if any, SMEs must be taken into account; commitment to make efforts to avoid setting criteria for determining priority enterprises in the direction of restricting SMEs.

For e-commerce, although both have chapters on e-commerce, only the CPTPP and RCEP have commitments on SMEs in this field, emphasizing cooperation to help SMEs overcome barriers to participate in e-commerce.

The research indicated that Vietnam had formed a basic legal framework for e-commerce, and has improved this framework, especially in very meaningful aspects to SMEs (such as e-commerce through social networks). Vietnam also has legal regulations (supporting SMEs in digital transformation) and programs with specific goals and tasks to support SMEs to overcome shortcomings, and effectively participate in e-commerce.

With the above problems, Nguyen Thi Thu Trang said that in some areas, either Vietnam had not taken full advantage of its authorized rights to support SMEs or has not yet ensured absolute compliance with the requirements. Therefore, it needed to continue to adjust and amend provisions in relevant legal documents and policies.

By Hương Dịu/Thanh Thuy

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