Vietnamese businesses must urge the government to make its negotiations for the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership transparent and also raise their concerns over the deal, an expert has said.
Pham Duy Nghia, a lecturer at the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program, said while there have already been 20 rounds of talks since 2010, Vietnamese enterprises do not seem to know how the US-led trade pact would affect them.
“In the US, companies in the pharmaceutical, textile, entertainment, and banking sectors are lobbying for the TPP,” he told a seminar titled “Vietnamese CEOs under pressure from FTAs and TPP” held by the CEO Club in Ho Chi Minh City on March 24.
“Why don’t Vietnamese firms team up and speak up for their rights?
“Vietnamese businesses are funding the government’s operations by paying taxes. So why don't they talk to the government so that it can make favorable decisions for them in the TPP talks?”
While the TPP negotiations have been conducted in secret, some analysts believe that the deal is a product of efforts by some interest groups including US drug companies.
Analysts also believe that Vietnam will sign off on whatever TPP deal it is offered just for the unfettered access it will offer to consumer markets and a chance to move its economy further away from dependence on China.
If signed the pact is expected to increase Vietnam’s GDP by US$37.5 billion with an export lift of $307 billion by 2025 through TPP.
Already 50 percent of Vietnam’s foreign investment flows from countries negotiating the pact -- like the US, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, and Singapore.
But lawmaker Truong Trong Nghia warned that GDP is not everything.
“Economic growth should be accompanied by quality and effectiveness of the growth. Our GDP has expanded for years, but the effectiveness is low with high input costs, low return on capital and low labor productivity.
“We have poured much money for the growth in the last 20 years and now we are stuck with high public debts.
“We also sold numerous natural resources and scarified the environment for the growth.
“If we continue to sell the resources, we’re going to be suicidal and leave nothing for the next generations.”
Truong Thi Le Khanh, general director of Vinh Hoan Corp., one of the leading seafood exporters in the Mekong Delta, said the government should consider labor allocation when it comes to the TPP.
“Seafood processors are operating along the Mekong River. So, textile and footwear plants should be built in other areas, to avoid a competition in recruiting workers.”
Seafood, textile, and footwear are among Vietnam’s top exports and likely to benefit from the TPP with tariffs in member countries, including the US, to be cut to near zero.