The laws of Vietnam are complex and new legislation is constantly being introduced. What follows is no more than an introductory overview that we hope will assist investors to decide which areas of law they will need to research further.

This summary is, necessarily, selective and is no substitute for detailed legal advice.

1. The supervising department for all telecommunications is DGPT which originally functioned via a number of operating companies, notably Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications (VPNT). In June 1995 however, VPNT separated from ]:)GPT to become an independent company though still under supervision from DGPT.

2. VPNT had held a monopoly in the provision of services, but this too was changed by Decision 3179 signed by the Deputy Prime Minister, which licensed the military, via its operating company Sigelco also to operate. The exact relationship between VNPT and Sigelco has not been finalised.

3. Vietnam's mobile communications network remains small despite its recent expansion, especially in comparison with its Asia-Pacific neighbours. Currently, limited GSM digital cellular mobile services exist in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with a very small Citynet CT2 Service covering Ho Chi Minh City also. All of these are operated on the basis of Business Co-operation Contracts (BCCs), ( i.e. where no new legal entity is formed), between VNPT and the foreign service providers. Indeed State Policy dictates that all telecommunications businesses with foreign parties must be constituted in this way. However, for businesses involved in the manufacture of telecommunications related equipment, joint venture companies and wholly foreign owned enterprises are permitted.

4. Regulatory Legislation currently in force includes Decree No 28 CP of 24 May 1993 which deals with the functions powers, duties and Organisation of DGPT. It is expected however that this will be replaced to reflect the new situation following the separation of VPNT. New regulations on Posts and Telecommunications to replace the existing Decree 121 of 1987 are currently under discussion.

NOTE: The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

If you would like further advice please contact: David Ellis, Johnson Stokes & Master, 16th Floor, Princes Building, 10 Chater Road, Hong Kong; Tel 2843 4226; Fax no. : 2845 9121. Alternatively do a text search "Johnson Stokes and Master" and "Business Monitor".