Competitiveness improvement through better industrial relations under discussion

A workshop to discuss how to improve competitiveness through better industrial relations through EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) was organized on April 12th in Ho Chi Minh city.

A workshop to discuss how to improve competitiveness through better industrial relations through EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) was organized on April 12th in Ho Chi Minh city.

The event, jointly organised by the Swedish Embassy and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), was attended by Vietnamese businesses representatives wishing to establish or expand business with Sweden.

Competitiveness improvement through better industrial relations under discussion

Participants at the workshop

In her opening remarks, Swedish Ambassador Camilla Mellander stressed that trade does not happen at the cost of the environment or of people’s rights. Businesses in Vietnam should be aware of the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) compliance, as committed by the Vietnamese government in the EVFTA. Consumers are getting more and more aware of how the products they buy have been produced in terms of effects on the environment and workers’ conditions.

She also said that Sweden is willing to work together with Vietnam to share its innovative experiences and best practices in the industrial relations field and in light of the EVFTA.

“Many still believe that CSR is only for big, multinational corporations and not for small and medium enterprises in developing countries. As a matter of fact, Vietnamese export companies have also been encountering certification and standard problems when their foreign investors and buyers require them to take business practices based on full respect for workers, communities and environment,,” said Mr. Vo Tan Thanh, Vice President of VCCI.

In Vietnam, the new labour code in 2012 introduced formal procedures for settling industrial relations disputes. But many issues still remain, such as the capacity of trade union and the enforcement of labour laws. CSR is still a relatively new concept and Vietnamese businesses are facing increasing challenges in executing CSR programs.

2015 was an important year for Vietnam with the conclusion of the negotiations for the EVFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). When EVFTA comes into force, expectedly in 2018, it is estimated that Vietnam GDP will grow by an additional 15% and that the value of its export to the EU could increase by almost 35%.

Since 2013, Vietnam has been the EU's fourth most important trading partner among the ten ASEAN member states./.

( Compiled by VNF )

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