The Beyond WTO Programme (B-WTO) has helped Vietnam perfect its market economy institutions and address integration’s socio-economic challenges to rural areas after four years of implementation.
As Vietnam is integrating deeper into the regional and global economy and continuing to perfect integration policies and step up reforms, the country continues to need support and technical assistance from donors, stated Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Cam Tu.
With its goal of strengthening the Government’s capacity, the B-WTO Programme, a post-WTO technical assistance programme, has provided Vietnam with much-needed assistance to policy and institution building, he said.
It has also helped Vietnamese ministries, agencies and localities implement the Government’s action programmes on some major guidelines and policies for the rapid and sustainable development of the Vietnamese economy as a WTO member, he added.
According to Trinh Minh Anh, Head of the B-WTO Programme Steering Committee Office, between September 2009 and September 2013, 48 projects were carried out as part of the B-WTO Programme – Phase II.
Of which, 23 supported the completion of the market economy institutions, six helped solve socio-economic challenges of integration to rural areas, 11 improved integration management and coordination capacity, and the remaining eight assisted localities in realising their action plans.
The majority of the programme’s short-term objectives have been achieved, actively contributing to implementing the priorities of the Government’s Action Plan, he said.
One of the major projects is to improve the capacity of the Competitiveness Management Department (CMD) in order to enhance market economy institutions in Vietnam.
With the support of the B-WTO Programme, the CMD has investigated and handled trade defence lawsuits under Vietnamese law, including the cases against imported float glass in 2009 and refined vegetable oil in 2013.
It has also investigated and imposed anti-dumping measures against cold-rolled stainless steel imported from China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia, which was the first case made under the Ordinance on Anti-dumping of Imports into Vietnam.
CMD Director Bach Van Mung said that thanks to the programme, the department has built a competitive environment database and assessed the competitiveness of 30 economic sectors.
Since the programme was launched, 17 countries have recognised Vietnam as a market economy, raising the total number to 38, he said.
Another outstanding result of the project was the establishment of an early warning system on anti-dumping lawsuits and the training of staff capable of dealing with trade defence cases lodged by foreign countries, he added.
However, Deputy Director of the Central Economic Management Institute Vo Tri Thanh said that despite remarkable reform and development achievements over the past 27 years, many reforms have lost the momentum and the Vietnamese economy has revealed a number of shortcomings in structure, resistance, and social and environmental issues.
Therefore, Vietnam needs a new reform push in three major directions, which are economic restructuring with a focus on State-owned enterprises, finance-banking and public investment; deep and comprehensive integration centring on economic integration and prioritising ties with the ASEAN, East Asia, Asia-the Pacific and strategic partners; and combining economic reforms with institutional and political reforms, he stressed.