Vietnam’s Work Permits, FDI, Trade Agreements, and Global Mobility

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AmCham and other Foreign Business Associations have faced increasingly burdensome paperwork requirements and restrictions on foreign workers since 2003. We have repeatedly asked the Government to adopt more reasonable administrative procedures for employing qualified foreign workers, since there are ongoing shortages of qualified Vietnamese workers. Qualified foreign workers are a key factor supporting FDI, technology transfer, and on-the-job vocational training for Vietnamese workers, which is not available otherwise in Vietnam. Many say: “Thầy thì nhiều, thợ thì thiếu.” [A surplus of teachers; a shortage of workers.]

Vietnam’s Work Permits, FDI, Trade Agreements, and Global Mobility

Former specimen of Vietnam Work Permit

A more reasonable policy and more efficient procedures for employing foreign workers would result in improved business conditions for, and attract more, FDI, which is a goal of MPI and leaders of the Southern Key Economic Region. So it would be mutually beneficial for leaders in the SKER provinces and FDI companies to address and resolve this issue.

Moreover, the work permit regulations violate both the spirit and the letter of Vietnam’s international commitments such as the Vietnam-U.S. Bilateral Trade Agreement, Vietnam’s WTO Accession Agreement, and the ASEAN Economic Blueprint 2015, which calls for the “free flow of skilled labor.”

Outstanding Problems / Obstacles
All foreign business associations continue to face very many obstacles to the free flow of skilled management and specialist labor, which is a fundamental commitment in Vietnam’s trade agreements and is essential to the success of foreign companies’ business operations and FDI in Vietnam.

Question / Proposal
We suggest a different approach to resolve this issue, which has festered and gotten worse over the past ten years. It is one of the major constraints facing FDI companies that want to invest in Vietnam. Specifically, we respectfully request that the Ministries and the SKER People’s Committees consider the following proposals.

1. establish a small working group in the SKER, consisting of representatives of the People’s Committees, relevant departments, and representatives of the VBF Consortium Members, that will meet regularly on a monthly basis, under the leadership of the People’s Committees, to discuss and present recommendations to the Chairmen of the People’s Committees and then to the Ministers of MPI, MoLISA, MoIT, and ACAPR, to resolve this issue in a way that will reduce administrative procedures, promote efficiency, improve the business conditions, and attract more FDI;

2. In the meantime, make a number of small improvements, which are explained at this link: Proposed Revisions to Circular 3, Số: 03/2014/TT-BLĐTBXH, Hà Nội, 20/01/2014.


Background: Work Permits Regulations and FDI Comments, 2003 – 2014

Managing Immigration Risk in Vietnam, Sep 13, 2013
Presentation by EY Vietnam

Developing a Globally Diverse Work Force for Global Companies
As companies seek to expand their global capabilities and cultivate leaders to run their multinational operations, providing field experiences that enable the acquisition of new knowledge, skills, languages meets the individual need for more global experiences and helps to achieve competitiveness and growth goals. Education may prepare students to meet today’s challenges, but professionals need real-world experience to advance their skills to thrive in a global economy and meet requirements of the future. Just like the need for HTML5 developers didn’t exist 10 years ago, professionals need to consider the skills they will need for the future to succeed. In a global business environment, cross-cultural proficiency – the kind gained through globe-trotting assignments – is at a premium. Employees with international experience become an even greater asset to their organization. International assignments can help increase cultural literacy, facilitate the mastery of foreign languages, expand the professional network, and broaden perspective.

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