Vietnam’s provinces compete for new businesses

Doing business in Vietnam is getting easier, thanks to a tool managed by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry and developed by the U.S government.

The Provincial Competitiveness Index rates each of Vietnam’s 63 provinces on the ease of operating and investing in a business.

Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia, with an annual 6 percent growth rate over the past five years. But businesses there face challenges, including significant delays when registering a business, unsupportive local government leaders and requests for bribes. The index offers information on these and other factors.

The index creates “healthy and effective competition among localities,” said Nguyen Van Duong, chairman of Dong Thap province, located in southern Vietnam. Leaders in Dong Thap province have worked hard for the past 10 years to improve the province’s score. Their efforts have paid off. The number of new businesses increased by 28 percent from 2015 to 2016 — a far better pace than the national average increase of 16 percent.

Fifty-one of the 63 provinces have improved their index scores since 2005, the first year it was created.

Row of workers making steel water tanks (Richard Nyberg/USAID)
Employees produce stainless steel water tanks at the Sonha Corporation in Hanoi, one of many businesses benefiting from the Provincial Competitiveness Index. (Richard Nyberg/USAID)

The U.S. Agency for International Development has worked with the government of Vietnam for several decades to help strengthen the country’s emerging market economy.

Other U.S.-backed economic activities in Vietnam include these:

  • Revising more than 160 commercial laws and regulations.
  • Assisting more than 50 government agencies with trade-related legal and economic reforms.
  • Providing 400 women — 240 of whom have started businesses — with advanced business skills training.
Factory workers in Vietnam making shoes (Van Pham/USAID/Governance for Inclusive Growth program)
A shoe plant owned by the Thai Binh Holding & Shoes Manufacturing Company in Binh Duong province, Vietnam (Van Pham/USAID/Governance for Inclusive Growth program)

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in May to discuss the deepening economic relationship between the United States and Vietnam. Ross noted that Vietnam is the fastest-growing market for U.S. exports, rising 77 percent since 2014 to $4.4 billion.

“The growth of the middle class and the increasing purchasing power in Vietnam are further incentives to strengthening our long-term trade and investment relationship,” Ross said.

President Trump travels to Vietnam November 10–11 to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum’s Economic Leaders’ Meeting and is expected to meet with President Tran Dai Quang and other senior Vietnamese leaders.