Vietnam: Trading And Distribution By Foreign Invested Economic Organizations – What You Must Know

Following the issuance of the Investment Law (2014), the Government of Vietnam is speeding up the drafting of a new decree (the Draft Decree) guiding trading and distribution of foreign invested economic organizations (FIEOs) in Vietnam. The Draft Decree, once issued, will replace Decree 23 on trading and distribution of foreign invested enterprises dated 12 December 2007 (Decree 23).

What is new in the Draft Decree?

Below are some new features introduced by the Draft Decree

  1. [Effective] expansion of business lines to be subject to baby permits;
  2. Demerger of baby permits from the investment registration certificate (IRC);
  3. Delegation of the licensing authority with respect to issuance of the baby permits to provincial department of industry and trade (DOIT);
  4. Setting out circumstances where FIEOs are exempt from baby permits;
  5. Clarification of criteria for establishing retail outlets including economic needs test (ENT);
  6. More detailed licensing process.

Detailed comments on the Draft Decree

1. General understanding of baby permit requirements

For a general understanding, for some specific business sectors, the Investment Law requires foreign investor and their local companies to satisfy 02 layers of conditions before officially entering the market. The first one is investment conditions (điều kiện đầu tư) and the second being business investment conditions (also know as business condition or baby permit), (điều kiện đầu tư kinh doanh). Their major differences are presented in the below table:

Criteria Investment Conditions Business Conditions
Function Market access conditions applicable to foreign investment Professional conditions in order to actually conduct business or investment activities
Time of application Before investment in Vietnam After investment in Vietnam
Applicable Entities Foreign investors and FIEOs with 51% or more foreign ownership (if acting as an investor in another entity) Basically, all FIEOs and local companies.
Forms Investment registration certificates or 'approval' of the DPI in case of formation of new entities or acquiring existing local companies respectively Sub-licenses such as licenses, certificates, etc. In case of trading and distribution by FIEOs, it is the approval for sale and purchase of goods of the DOIT.
Relevant Authority DPI/industrial zone authorities at provincial levels. State bodies of many levels. In case of trading and distribution, the DOIT

2. Expanded coverage of baby permit requirements

The Draft Decree makes a specific list of 'purchase and sale of goods' and 'activities directly related to the purchase and sale of goods' by FIEOs, namely:

  1. Trading (import and export) rights;
  2. Distribution;
  3. Commercial promotion services
  4. Commercial intermediary services
  5. Goods leasing services
  6. E-commerce services
  7. Logistics services;
  8. Commercial assessment services
  9. Goods auction services
  10. Goods and service bidding services
  11. Commodity exchange
  12. Other activities directly related to the purchase and sale of goods'.

For the purpose of this note, the above services/activities are collectively referred to as 'Conditional Businesses'

Comparing with Decree 23, albeit referring to a variety of trading related activities (e.g. – advertisement, promotion, etc.), mainly subjects trading and distribution by FIEOs to baby permits. Hence, with activities being specified as above, it is more likely that licensing authorities would request all Conditional Businesses to be subject to baby permits. If this is the case, this fact can be seen as a 'one step back' in terms of relaxing licensing process for foreign investment. Specifically, licensing authorities will be given discretion in granting baby permits for Conditional Businesses which are in fact fully opened to foreign investment.

3. Demerger of baby permits from the investment registration certificate (IRC);

Previously, investors applying to setup a trading/distribution FIE need only to obtain an IRC which simultaneously serves as a baby permit. However, with the delegation of the IRC licensing authority from the provincial people's committees to DPIs under the Investment Law, it is still unclear as to licensing process for issuance of baby permit.

The Draft Decree gives the answer. DPIs and the DOITs are responsible for the IRCs and baby permits respectively. DOITs are required to obtain approvals of the MOIT and, under some circumstances, relevant State bodies. This new licensing process, when implemented, will effectively create a 03-layer approval for FIEs which are (i) IRCs at DPI; (ii) baby permits at DOIT and actually approvals at MOIT. This is even more critical because in order for the DPI to issue IRCs including Conditional Businesses they, as a matter of practice, often seek the DOIT/MOIT's greenlight. As such, 04 rounds for approvals would be required for some service sectors that Vietnam has been open to foreign investors for years under its respective international treaties.

Issuance of a decree on trading rights and distribution activities of foreign invested economic organizations (FIEOs) in Vietnam.

4. Delegation of the licensing authority with respect to the baby permits to provincial department of industry and trade (DOIT);

As said, the DOIT will be responsible for issuing baby permits. In doing so, it must first seek greenlights of the MOIT.

5. Baby Permit Exemption

There are roughly 04 possible scenarios where FIEOs are exempt from baby permits

  1. FIEOs import/export/process or dispose products in accordance with its registered businesses or in combination with their registered services;
  2. FIEOs already licensed to conduct trading and distribution rights;
  3. FIEOs already licensed to provide logistics and commercial assessment services; and
  4. FIEOs with foreign owner holding not more than 35% voting shares (in case of joint stock companies) or 35% charter capital or a lower voting ratio stipulated in charter (in case of limited liability companies).

With respect to FIEOs in item (b) and (c) above, it is not clear as to whether such exemption applies to FIEOs established before or after the effective date of the Draft Decree.

6. Retail Outlet Criteria

Retail outlets by FIEs are still subject to ENT criteria except for:

  1. The first retail outlet;
  2. A retail outlet other than the first one having area of less than 500m2 in commercial centers; or
  3. Retail outlets other than the first one having total area of less than 500m2 in the same commercial centers.

The Draft Decree introduces more specific metrics to measure ENT criteria including geographic size of the relevant area, number of existing retail outlets, possible impacts of retail outlet to be applied on the stability of market, population density and possible contribution of the retail outlets to the socio-economic developments of the area.

7. Licensing Process

FIEOs send the application file to the licensing authority for issuance of baby permits per post, online or direct submission.

The licensing period varies by nationalities of the investors/FIEOs. For example, investors from jurisdictions which have entered into international treaties with Vietnam on market access, the period for the MOIT and other State bodies to give opinions will be 07 working days only. Other investors (e.g. – investors from BVI or other tax heavens) may suffer a 15-day licensing period. The direct licensing authority (e.g. – the DOIT) will issue baby permits within 05 days from the date of receipt of greenlights of the MOIT and other relevant State bodies, if any. In case of refusal, explanations must be given to the applying entities.

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 Mondaq.com.

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

Authors
 
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
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
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
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (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 www.mondaq.com

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 Mondaq.com’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.

Disclaimer

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.

Registration

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 by clicking here .

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 unsubscribe@mondaq.com 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.

Cookies

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.

Links

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.

Mail-A-Friend

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.

Security

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 webmaster@mondaq.com.

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 EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

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 enquiries@mondaq.com.

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