Vietnam Premier Pledges Better Climate For Foreign Firms

June 8, 2001

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai promised improved legal and investment conditions for foreign firms operating in his country in a speech given to the seventh Future of Asia conference on Friday.

He also stressed that Vietnam intends to ask back foreign firms that left the country feeling the business climate was less than congenial.

He said the Vietnamese government is ready to take any conceivable measures to make the business environment more favorable and improve export competitiveness for foreign firms.

He suggested the government will ease high telecommunications costs, individual income taxes, rents and other expenses. He also mentioned the administrative reforms underway to cut red tape.

As basic economic policy, Vietnam will seek to build a market economy directed by socialism egalitarianism, he said. The country will lower tariffs and abolish non-tariff barriers, in accordance with the timetable of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation's regional free trade zone concept.

After adopting the Doi-moi economic reform policy in 1986, Vietnam enjoyed about 20% growth per year in foreign capital inflows until 1996. But the 1997 Asian currency crisis and the inflexible institutional structure within the country, including an unfriendly legal system, have caused the economy to stagnate.

Since the retirement in April of Le Kha Phieu, the conservative secretary general of the Vietnamese communist party, the leadership of Phan Van Khai, who was deeply involved in implementing the Doi-moi policy, and his economic reform efforts have strengthened.

(The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Friday evening edition)

Titles of speakers, names of companies, etc., were correct as of the time when the forum was held.