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World Trade Organization

WTO Trade Policy Review of Viet Nam 2021 - Australia Statement

27 and 29 April 2021

Australia Statement

Viet Nam’s economic growth over the past three decades is a great success story. Since reforms in the 1980s, it has evolved from a low-income, closed agricultural economy with heavy state involvement to a dynamic, mixed economy with a growing private sector. The country has ascended from being one of Asia’s poorest to middle income status, lifting 45 million people out of poverty. Viet Nam’s strong public health response to COVID-19 also allowed its economy to continue to grow despite the pandemic in 2020 – one of the few countries in the world to do so.

Australia encourages Viet Nam to continue the process of trade policy reform and looks forward to continuing our support for Viet Nam’s efforts to develop its economy further, as well as its greater integration into the global trading system. Australia welcomes the commitment expressed in Viet Nam’s TPR Report to its involvement in regional and multilateral trade institutions. A more prosperous and confident Viet Nam will improve the quality of life of its citizens, contribute to regional security, and become an even more significant export market and trading partner for Australia.

Australia recognises that in many areas a maturation of Viet Nam’s relevant policy and institutional settings has taken place. This is reflected in areas such as: fiscal consolidation and the pursuit of a more stable monetary policy; improvements in Vietnam’s foreign investment framework; and modernisation of its competition policy. Australia notes Vietnam has reduced the degree of state involvement in some important sectors of the economy, and considers this will provide a valuable boost for efficiency and productivity. But we note the extent of state control of the economy remains very extensive. Changes in Viet Nam’s intellectual property and government procurement policies taken pursuant to membership of the CPTPP will also be positive and Australia looks forward to these developments.

We note Vietnam’s steady pursuit of its economic integration agenda through its membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO), ASEAN and APEC. Given the importance of agricultural trade to both of our economies, Australia values Viet Nam’s positive contribution, including through its Membership of the Cairns Group, to continuing agricultural trade reform. We look forward to working with Viet Nam in the leadup to MC12 to achieve a meaningful outcome on agriculture, in particular domestic support.

Services trade is of increasing importance to Viet Nam’s economy. Viet Nam has recently taken on comprehensive services domestic regulation commitments in RCEP. Australia encourages Viet Nam to join the WTO Services Domestic Regulation Joint Statement Initiative (JSI). This JSI will provide greater certainty to global service providers and help support Viet Nam’s long-term economic growth.

Australian businesses and importers have reported Viet Nam’s implementation of trade commitments, such as acceptance of digital certificates of origin under the CPTPP, has been inconsistent. More broadly, customs procedures when inconsistently applied have acted as constraints to trade. These kinds of border clearance barriers affect a variety of traders, particularly through biosecurity and related certification issues. Australia encourages Viet Nam to fully implement its commitments under trade agreements including the CPTPP, AANZFTA and RCEP once it enters into force.

Australia welcomed Viet Nam joining the Trade Facilitation Agreement in 2015, and notes the steps Vietnam has taken already to implementing the agreement. We look forward to Vietnam finalising implementation of all commitments by 2025 as scheduled. We note Vietnam’s participation in the Information Technology Agreement, and would encourage it to consider joining the agreement’s expansion, or ITA 2.

Australia also looks forward to working with Viet Nam and all other AANZFTA parties on the AANZFTA upgrade negotiations – the upgrade presents an opportunity to enhance economic integration and maximise the Agreement’s contribution to the region’s economic recovery.

Digital trade is contributing an increasing amount to global economic growth. Viet Nam has made important commitments in its FTAs to support digital trade, including to support business and traders through cross-border data flows. Australia encourages Viet Nam to continue to support this important area of trade by ensuring a supportive regulatory environment and through full implementation of its FTA commitments into the future.

A further reduction in trade barriers will be an important part of Viet Nam’s domestic economic reform process, strengthening trade and competitiveness and supporting further integration into global value chains and long-term economic growth. Continuing structural reform of the economy is essential if Viet Nam is to realise its full potential.

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