Vietnam: Top Challenges Of Doing Business In Vietnam

Last Updated: 15 February 2019
Article by TMF Group

Vietnam is one of the crown jewels in Asia's high growth emerging markets, often presenting an easier base for business in China than China itself. It's expected the Vietnamese economy will grow more than 6% annually in the coming years, driven by a growing domestic market and a young, educated and hard-working population which is the fastest-growing middle class in South Asia.

A member of the WTO and regional forums, including ASEAN and its Economic Community, Vietnam is also party to an EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, making Vietnam a prime investment destination. GDP per capita has grown by 350% since 1991, second only to China.

Foreign direct investment increased by 6.3% in 2018, rising to USD 15.1 billion; the manufacturing and real estate sectors received the most pledged foreign funds in that period, followed by wholesale and retail trade. Yet Vietnam still poses challenges for foreign businesses wanting to invest in the country. If you want to move your business into Vietnam, it pays to spend some time in the country doing research before you make your final decision.

Starting a company

The World Bank's Doing Business rankings has Vietnam at No 104 in the world for ease of starting a business (69 overall globally for doing business), but it does note that reform is underway - it only takes eight procedures now, where it was over 100 a few years ago. You must have a company address and a lease signed before you register your entity. It's also worth noting there are conditions and limits placed on some foreign investments, with some undertakings - dealing with certain types of drugs, chemicals and minerals, some biological businesses, and firecrackers - banned from accepting foreign injections.

Reporting and filing (in Vietnamese)

All paperwork must be written in the Vietnamese language, and all foreign paperwork must have certified Vietnamese translations - they should be notarized or certified by courts in the home country, and then authenticated by a Vietnamese embassy. Licenses are also issued in Vietnamese.

Currency

The Vietnamese dong is closely connected to the US dollar through a crawling peg, which provides exchange rate stability between trading partners. Considered one of the most stable Asian currencies, the dong has aided foreign direct investment. It's worth noting that the government heavily regulates transactions in relation to foreign currencies, with rules on inflow generally more relaxed than those on outflow.

Taxes

Vietnam's government has been undertaking much reform of its complicated tax system in recent years, and this has been reflected in a rise in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business rankings. Those rankings state there are 10 corporate tax payments to be made each year, with other tax burdens including VAT and social insurance. The country's Ministry of Finance notes that the Tax Department has issued regulations that create favourable conditions for businesses, including listing invoices of goods and services purchased and sold together along with the VAT declaration, and a simplification of procedures for calculating VAT and CIT. There has also been much work undertaken in the IT side of tax reporting, with electronic tax declaration fully implemented as of late 2017. In addition, proposals to amend and supplement current laws on CIT, VAT, special sales tax and natural resources tax regulations comes into force on 1 January 2019; these proposals aim to clarify unclear tax issues and reduce the tax compliance burden for businesses with operations in Vietnam.

Payments and the banking system

Vietnam is one of the most cash-dependent economies in the world; more than 90% of all domestic transactions are done in cash as there is a lack of ATMs and trustworthy cashless systems. The Vietnamese also feel distrustful of corrupt local banks. As such, many Vietnamese businesses will use wire transfers to send funds. The government aims to make Vietnam "cashless by 2020", and the plan is to provide the infrastructure for such a system, increase the fees on cash payments, and decrease fees related to electronic payments.

Bureaucracy and transparency

Vietnam is a country in flux, one moving into a more globalised outlook. As such, you'll likely still encounter a lot of bureaucracy and lack of transparency as regulations move into the modern age. Vietnam's regulatory regimes and commercial law, and the overlapping jurisdictions of some government ministries, can result in a lack of consistency in government policies. There's also poor corporate disclosure standards and a lack of financial transparency, which can add to challenges for due diligence and KYC.

Intellectual property

While Vietnam has regulations in place to protect intellectual property rights, the enforcement is notoriously weak and IP abuse remains a problem in Vietnam; piracy rates for software were estimated at 74% for 2017. The government is taking steps to address the problem, and introducing new legislation to protect IP rights, including copyright, industrial property and plant varieties. Foreign companies that want to register their intellectual ownership should file an application with the National Office of Industrial Property of Vietnam, or the NoIP, via an authorised agent. Regardless of the authority of the NoIP, foreign businesses with IP to protect are advised to ensure it's looked after before exporting or setting up in Vietnam.

Corruption

Despite reform in the country, corruption is still widespread in Vietnam and anyone doing business in the country is likely to encounter it or hear about it at some point. The Vietnamese government is committed to fighting the problem and has introduced anti-corruption laws, developed anti-corruption strategies, strengthened its institutions and ratified the UN Convention Aganist Corruption (UNCAC). Its anti-corruption frameworks are comprehensive when compared to some of its Asian neighbours. But while the intention is there, the practice is more difficult to police. Taking bribes, making facilitation payments and receiving expensive gifts to develop business relationships are all illegal activities, and many foreign companies promote a zero tolerance policy from set-up.

Respecting the business culture

Vietnamese business culture centres around the social connection made between business partners, perhaps a lingering effect of Confucianism's impact on the local people. Be prepared to share personal information about your family and hobbies - it will improve your relationship with local suppliers and can impact ultimate business deals. Most connections are made through referrals and recommendations, and the price you are offered can be dictated by how you met the business. Seniority is also important, especially when dealing with the government or any state-owned organisation. Finally, be prepared for collective decision-making; most decisions in Vietnamese businesses are made by committee, with no individual having absolute power. This makes the group connection, rather than an individual connection, important.

Talk to us

Whether you're looking to enter Vietnam, or have been operating there for years, it's important to work with a partner on the ground who knows the culture and can help you navigate these minefields.

Get in touch with TMF Group's local experts in Vietnam to discuss how we can help take your Vietnam business to the next stage.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Events from this Firm
3 Oct 2019, Webinar, Rotterdam, Netherlands

To view this Webinar in full click here

24 Oct 2019, Business Breakfast, London, UK

Join TMF Group and ACCA for breakfast and a briefing session dedicated to the latest VAT changes and how they affect the UK.

21 Nov 2019, Conference, Shanghai, China

Retail remains a significant growth opportunity even as GDP slows, but the challenge of recruiting and retaining quality staff must never be underestimated and managing these issues successfully can define the winners and losers. TMF Group’s 2019 Annual Retail Summit in Shanghai brings together industry professionals to share opinions on the key differentiators that can lead to achieving growth targets and maintaining momentum for your retail business in China.

 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions