Vietnam: Impact Of WTO Accession – An Analysis



Generally speaking, the WTO accession has created more opportunities and advantages than disadvantages to the Vietnamese economy.

However, without appropriate macroeconomic policies and necessary reforms, these opportunities sometimes did become challenges to Vietnam.

Accordingly, appropriate policy measures following the accession, especially in training and education, migrations, regional and social protection policies were of great importance.

  • Macroeconomic impacts:
  • When Vietnam joined the WTO, the world was facing the Great Recession. After the accession, impacts from the global market have become greater due to close connections with other markets, creating more risks to the Vietnamese economy. However, the increase in economic growth is also considerable due to great amount of investment.
  • The import of the heavy industry in Vietnam accelerated after the accession.
  • Vietnam switched from exporting primary commodities to exporting goods produced with high technologies.
  • Since the accession, Vietnam has diverted from agriculture-driven economy to focus more on developing industrial sectors. Areas requiring high technologies have become very attractive.
  • Impacts on agriculture:
  • Although the share of agriculture in GDP in Vietnam is decreasing, this field remains crucial to the Vietnamese economy. Agriculture is facing several issues after the accession including quality and competitiveness.
  • Impacts on the society:
  • The WTO accession has created several working opportunities for unemployed people.
  • It has also lessen the gap between the rich and the poor and eradicated several gender inequlities in Vientnam.
  • The number of juvenile laborers has largely decreased.



  1. a) Impact on the Economy:

Positive impacts on economic growth:

  • Trade liberalization was promoted following the accesion.
  • Market access was also improved for the country's exports.
  • After Vietnam joined the WTO, foreign capital flows strongly poured into the economy and improved the economic growth of Vietnam.
  • Import clearly has a greater growth due to increase in investment as well as higher average income, allowing access to foreign goods.
  • Approximately 5.7 million jobs were created prior to the accession (2000-2006).
  • The annual growth rate of the economy of Vietnam gradually increased from 2001 until 2005 and remained stable, reaching over 8% until 2007.
  • Limiting poverty. For instance, in the Red River Delta area, the figure for poverty decreased from 62.7% in 1993 to 8.8% in 2006.

Negative impacts on economic growth: inequalities among the citizens

  1. b) Impact on the Politics:
  • Market opening and international economic integration has put Vietnam's economy right at the door of opportunities and challenges.
  • Vietnamese law has become more transparent and uniform.
  • There has been a reduction in administrative procedure, creating flexibility in the market.
  • WTO accession has laid a good foundation for Vietnam's deeper integration into the world's economy.
  • The process of economic integration, particularly since Vietnam joined the WTO, however, revealed the immanent weaknesses of the Vietnamese economy.
  • The current situation requires an effective import-export strategy to improve efficiency of resource allocation, improve competitiveness of the economy and macroeconomic stability.
  • In this context, it is important to focus on macroeconomic stability, growth paradigm shift towards quality and efficiency as outlined in the Strategy of Social – Economic Development in the period from 2011 to 2020.

Question: In which domains was this impact particularly strong?

  • One of the crucial terms of the WTO agreement is trade liberalization.
  • After the WTO accession, Vietnam has made a commitment to open markets for services sector. Thus, Vietnam are obliged to open the market (allowing foreign investors to participate in the provision of services in Vietnam or to organizations and individuals in Vietnam) at least at the levels of the commitment. This is one of the main reasons leading to the rise in investment in this sector. Particularly high investment growth in the property business was derived from the transfer of capital from investors from risky markets to the emerging markets with higher returns.
  • In the first few years of joining the WTO, the sector has the strongest investment growth in the economy was the property and business consulting services (an increase of 263.0% in 2007 and 15, 0% in 2008); market sectors open to foreign investment, such as finance and credit (up 87.4% in 2007 and 5.8% in 2008); transport, storage and communication (29.5% in 2007 and 5.8% in 2008).
  • Growths of this sector are mainly due to the contribution of foreign investments and economic sectors outside the state.



  • WTO is a community which allows easier trading terms among countries with fewer barriers and this was reinforced by international trade law set forward by the WTO.
  • Therefore, being in compliance with the international trade law is one of the crucial requirements in joining the WTO as it promotes the integration of the Vietnamese economy into the international economy and it also creates similar opportunities for Vietnam in order to further develop its economy.

Question: Would you say that organizations such as the American Chamber of Commerce or the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam gained more leverage in representing their interests through the legal WTO commitments?



Case description:

In February 2014, the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance set up and amendment draft to the Law on Special Consumption to impose a 10% tax on sugar-sweetened, non-alcoholic carbonated beverages. This caused resistance by different parties, such as the Ministry of Trade and in particular, the American Chamber of Commerce, representing foreign producers of soft drinks. One of the main arguments of the opponents to the tax was that Vietnam could violate its commitment to the principle of "national treatment" because 88% of the products that would be affected by the tax are foreign branded. In the monthly resolution of the government in July 2014 (Document Number: No 56//NQ-CP, point 8), the government declared to not include the proposed tax within the Law on Special consumption.

Letter of the American Chamber of Commerce to the Vietnamese Prime Minister:


Are you familiar with this case? Did you hear about it when it happened?

  • Yes.

How would you generally describe this case? Is rather ordinary or more special?

  • The main reason that the Ministry of Finance proposed such amendment was its concern about the health impacts of sugar-sweetened, non-alcoholic carbonated beverages, such as causing diabetes, obesity, stomachache, gout or even cancer. Concern about health leading to the authority's decision to impose higher special consumption tax rate is quite ordinary. Many other countries in the region such as Thailand or Cambodia also impose higher tax rate for certain types of beverages not good for public health. In Vietnam, goods such as beer, cigars or alcoholic beverages are also subject to very high special consumption tax rate.

Would you say that the claim of a violation of the principle of "national treatment" is justified?

  • I believe you are referring to Article III:2 of the GATT 1994. Generally speaking, this Article prohibits members from treating imported products less favourably than like domestic products once the imported product has entered the domestic market.
  • As you can see, the objective of this article is imported products vs. domestic products. The discrimination in this article is not a discrimination of nationality of investors. For your information, in the Vietnam's market, most of sugar-sweetened, non-alcoholic carbonated beverages are produced or imported by foreign invested companies in Vietnam. All locally produced and imported goods are subject to this type of tax. However, I agree with the AmCham position paper that despite this equal application, the overall effect of the measure benefits local producers at the expense of foreign producers. Thus, a violation of the NT principle could be established.

Would you say that compliance to WTO law was one factor that caused the tax proposal to fail? If so, how important was that factor compared to others?

  • WTO has a dispute resolution regime for any members violating its commitments. If there is any dispute arising and the disputing parties have to go to the Dispute Settlement Body, it will not only harm trade relations but also political relations between the parties. Vietnam always wants to comply with the commitments it made for its own sake.

Would you say that the tax – if applied – could have justified a claim through the WTO dispute settlement mechanism?

  • Vietnam could use Article XX GATT 1994 to make its claim, but it will be hard for Vietnam to meet strict requirements under this exception, especially when there is no established scientific-based evidence available at that time.


Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions