Photo: UNDP Vietnam

Mr. Nguyen Khanh Ngoc, Vice Minister of Justice,

Mr. Bach Quoc An, Director General, International Law Department, Ministry of Justice,

Ms. Dang Thi Huyen, Programme Manager, Economic Reform and Global Trade, British Embassy in Hanoi,

Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of UNDP, it is my great pleasure to welcome you all to this consultation workshop on enhancing the effectiveness of investor-state dispute settlement in Viet Nam.

I would like to start by thanking the Ministry of Justice for the collaboration with UNDP to organize today’s event, and the UK government for supporting this.

This workshop is organized under the UNDP Regional Project “Promoting a Fair Business Environment in ASEAN”, which is generously funded by the UK Prosperity Fund under the ASEAN Economic Reform Program. This three – year Project aims at promoting a fair business environment in ASEAN by minimizing corruption risks and encouraging sustainable practices. It targets 6 countries in ASEAN with Viet Nam as one of the priority countries of this programme.

As part of the process of global integration, Viet Nam has signed several international investment agreements, hereby showing its commitment to protect foreign investment. It is of course important to demonstrate that Viet Nam is an attractive and safe investment environment. At the same time, more foreign investment also means more possibilities for disputes with foreign investors when they consider that the Government or government agencies have violated their commitments.

Along with the effort to improve the business investment environment and attract foreign investment, Vietnam has been negotiating and signing bilateral and multilateral agreements on trade and investment. Viet Nam has also negotiated free trade agreements (FTAs) with many countries. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership or CPTPP was ratified by the National Assembly of Viet Nam in November 2018. And recently, on 8 June 2020, the National Assembly ratified the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement or EVFTA. These trade agreements can enhance international commerce and deepening economic cooperation between Vietnam and partners.

In this new context, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development or UNCTAD, between 2004 to 2019, Viet Nam recorded 8 foreign investor-state disputes. And the number of such disputes is predicted to rise in the coming years. While such disputes are still relatively rare, they can have major consequences. According to the report that was prepared by UNDP’s consultant and will be shared at the workshop, these disputes mainly arise in areas such as (i) business registration; (ii) land allocation and land acquisition; (iii) withdrawal of investment certificates; and (iv) implementation of administrative procedures at state agencies.

The Ministry of Justice is the legal representative of the Government in settling international investment disputes. Under the framework of our Project, UNDP has supported a study on inter-agency coordination for improving effectiveness of this mechanism. This study will help the Ministry of Justice to

(i) review 5 years of implementation of the Prime Minister's Decision No. 04 of 2014 on inter-agency coordination in resolving international investment disputes and introduce new Decision No. 14 of 2020 replacing the previous decision

(ii) assess the practical difficulties and problems in the process of settling investment disputes, and

(iii) propose recommendations to improve the effectiveness of prevention and settlement of international investment disputes.

The information which was collected and analysed by the consultant in the report has already been used by the Ministry of Justice in the process of drafting the new Decision 14. Today’s workshop is not only to collect comments on this report, but also to hear various opinions from Government’s legal experts, lawyers, arbitrators on how to improve the effectiveness of investor-state dispute settlement. This will contribute in improving business investment environment and promoting foreign investment in Viet Nam.  

In closing, I would like to stress that promoting an effective mechanism for settling international investment disputes is key for ensuring a fair business environment in Viet Nam. This is needed for ensure better global economic integration for Viet Nam. UNDP stands ready to support Viet Nam in this journey. I wish you all a successful and productive workshop.

Thank you (Xin Cám Ơn)!  

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