Alain Cany, president of European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham), said EuroCham members remain confident and optimistic about the long-term outlook for Vietnam’s business and investment environment.
However, there is no doubt that the fourth wave of Covid-19 presents challenges for companies and their business operations. Businesses in all sectors have been affected to some extent, but especially those in the tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors.
This could have a short-term impact on confidence until a mass vaccination program can unblock normal trade operations and ease quarantine requirements for international travel.
The recent EuroCham Membership Survey found that 70% of business leaders faced barriers during this fourth wave, with 78% of our members predicting that the current three-week quarantine requirements will lead to a decrease in number of investors and experts to come to Vietnam. This could have a ripple effect on trade and investment between Vietnam and the European Union.
Alain Cany added that one of the acute issues for our members continues to be the quarantine requirements where the same rules apply whether or not someone has been vaccinated.
Vietnam has managed to deal with previous outbreaks through social distancing, quarantine and contact tracing. However, this cannot last forever without impacting growth, especially as other countries roll out vaccinations and reopen their borders.
“These public health measures are a sticking plaster, not a permanent cure. We now need an urgent and ambitious mass immunization program to ensure that Vietnam can continue its strong economic growth in 2021, ”he said.
If the government can repeat its success in the previous three waves with a new vaccine-based approach, there is no reason for this fourth wave to inflict long-term damage to the economy. Vietnam has recovered from previous epidemics, recording one of the highest GDP increases in the world in 2020.
“There is no reason he cannot start over,” said Alain Cany.
PPP in the mass immunization program
In the short term, European companies want to resume their activities as if nothing had happened as quickly as possible. This requires a mass vaccination program to protect the population and ensure that reopening the economy does not create a risk to public health.
Vietnam has set itself an ambitious but achievable goal of vaccinating 75% of the population. This must now be the urgent goal of the government, with the support of the private sector and other international partner organizations.
Alain Cany confirmed that EuroCham is committed to supporting the Vietnamese government and people during this fourth wave.
Vaccines are now available, so the challenge has shifted from targeted containment to widespread inoculation. Other countries are setting up mass immunization programs and reopening their economies, so Vietnam must now match its earlier success with an ambitious and accelerated mass immunization program being implemented on a large scale and at a sustained pace.
There is also a great will on the part of many European companies in Vietnam who have the means to do so to cover the cost of vaccination of their own staff. This could help ease the burden on public finances while helping normal business activities resume as soon as possible.
EuroCham offers a public-private partnership between the State and the private sector. This could use wholesale purchasing power and local government networks to enable large-scale vaccination.
Meanwhile, the program could be accelerated through innovation and international expertise from private enterprise.
She wants to contribute to it with all the tools at her disposal. In particular, the chamber contains some of the world’s largest companies in the medical device, pharmaceutical and logistics industries.
She helps these members to share their experience and expertise with Vietnam to speed up this vaccination campaign.
In addition, European companies in Vietnam also want the current three-week quarantine requirements to be relaxed for investors and experts who have been vaccinated in their home country.
More than 80 percent of business leaders support the idea of a separate and shorter procedure for vaccinated business travelers. This would help increase trade and investment and help Vietnam bounce back and recover from the pandemic.
For example, the EU is working on a ‘digital green certificate’ to allow people to travel across the bloc’s 27 member states. The government could consider a similar program to allow those who have received a vaccine to come here for business or investment activities, as this would support Vietnam’s economic growth without hampering its public health efforts.