Foreign investors acknowledge Vietnam's swift action after riots

By Bao Van, Thanh Nien News

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Liu Mei Tei, chairwoman of the Council of Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, speaks at a meeting held by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry May 19. PHOTO: ANH VU  
Foreign investors acknowledged Vietnam's swift action in restoring peace and security and asked for the government's continued assistance in getting back to business.

“The Vietnamese government acted swiftly after the riots,” Liu Mei Tei, chairwoman of the Council of Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, said at meeting held by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) on Monday.

“I thank the friendly Vietnamese people who have tried to help and protect us,” she said. 
Many investors remain enthusiastic about Vietnam's investment potential, but note that their enthusiasm must be nurtured by continuous government support.
On May 13-14, peaceful demonstrations were held across Vietnam as people from all walks of life took to the streets to protest China's deployment of an oil rig in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone.
Groups of hooligans incited huge crowds of demonstrating workers to burn, vandalize and loot Chinese-owned factories and foreign-backed businesses (many of which were Taiwanese) in central and southern Vietnam, last week.

Liu Mei Tei said the Vietnamese government should investigate and report the losses incurred by the affected companies and quickly compensate them. “That's how Vietnam can increase investor faith. The issue (compensation) should be resolved soon.”

The government should also considered paying back wages to laborers for the days during which production was suspended, she said.

She also proposed that the government consider loosening its licensing procedures for foreign workers in Vietnam, as it remains difficult for the firms to find eligible, qualified laborers under existing regulations on the issue. 
A number of foreign workers have left Vietnam for home due to the riots.

A representative of the Association of South Korean enterprises in Vietnam said the government should take measures to prevent similar incidents in the future, extend tax deadlines for the affected companies and accelerate customs procedures to ensure that production materials are imported in a timely fashion and outgoing orders are shipped on time.

Representatives from the American Chamber of Commerce, the European Chamber of Commerce and the Australian Chamber of Commerce say they'll cooperate with Vietnam in assessing its losses and help the country quickly regain its status as a safe environment for business.

Getting back to business

VCCI Chairman Vu Tien Loc said the riots seriously violated the law and severely undermined Vietnam's status as a desirable foreign investment and business environment.

The Vietnamese government has taken actions to contain the illegal activity and is collaborating with foreign enterprises to repair the damages and resume production. Those found responsible for the incidents will be strictly punished in accordance with the Vietnamese law, he added.

To date, the provinces where the riots occurred have been brought under tight control by security forces who now guarantee the safety of the lives and property of foreigners, he said.

To date, between 80-90 percent of the affected enterprises have resumed their normal production and business activities, Loc noted.

The Vietnamese government remains determined to ensure the safety guaranteed to foreign persons and properties by Vietnamese law and the country's international commitments, the VCCI noted.

The Vietnamese government will not permit any act of violence against foreign enterprises or staff, and will strictly sanction those who caused the violence while ensuring that such regrettable incidents do not occur in the future, the VCCI announced.

Representatives from Vietnamese ministries present at the meeting affirmed their commitment to assisting the affected firms in overcoming their difficulties and getting back to work.

Le Xuan Thanh, vice head of the Labor and Wage Department under the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, said the ministry has launched a nationwide propaganda campaign to help local residents understand and obey the labor laws and regulations.

The Ministry of Finance has ordered its insurance department to quickly assess the damages at affected firms and compensate them accordingly. The ministry also cautioned its assessors to be wary of firms seeking to capitalize on the situation by submitting fraudulent or exaggerated claims.

Nguyen Hong Linh of the Ministry of Public Security expressed his regrets that about the momentary breakdown in security, adding that the ministry has responded to the riots in a timely fashion and plans to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Linh said the ministry has increased security operations in 63 cities and provinces to protect foreign-invested companies. The sites of this month's riots in the provinces of Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Ha Tinh, remain closely guarded as the ministry continues its investigation.

He added that provincial and municipal governments understand that they'll be held responsible for any further violence or vandalism.

“I believe that the security and safety of the lives and property of foreign investors in Vietnam will be absolutely guaranteed in the future,” he affirmed.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung last week ordered officials at every level of the government to tighten security for foreign investors, prevent further riots, and punish violators.

Over 1,000 people have been arrested for rioting in central and southern Vietnam. 

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