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What will Brexit mean for our relationship with Vietnam?

3 November 2020: A webinar hosted by the UK-ASEAN Business Council has highlighted the strength of the UK-Vietnam trading relationship and the continued opportunities available to both countries.

The UKABC webinar, which featured the Vice Minister and the Director General of the Ministry of Industry and Trade for Vietnam, revealed that discussions with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had been positive and they were in the final stages of creating a new free trade agreement (FTA) that looks to remove all customs duties between the countries.

With Brexit looming, the UK is working hard to finalise free trade agreements with worldwide trade partners. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab visited Vietnam recently to mark the UK’s 10-year partnership with the country, and to look ahead to the future of the UK/Vietnam relationship. Over the last 10 years, since the partnership between the UK and Vietnam was first set up, bilateral trade between the countries has tripled, as has the number of British tourists visiting Vietnam (2020 excluded) and over 50 research partnerships have been established between UK and Vietnamese universities.

Vietnam is a key trading partner for the UK, with a significant number of big players in pharmaceuticals and renewable energy working out of the country. The Vice Minister also emphasised that the expertise in Financial and Professional Services the UK provides added value to Vietnam’s economy.

Mark Billington, ICAEW Regional Director for Greater China & South East Asia, says: “Since opening an office in Hanoi in 2015, ICAEW has been a prominent supporter in developing the accountancy profession in Vietnam. Working with UK government support we have developed a programme of teaching and certification for IFRS that has been adopted by the Ministry of Finance and the State Securities Commission. In 2019, we became the only international professional accountancy organisation to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry for Education and Training to provide support to universities across Vietnam.” 

The country offers an attractive investment opportunity for British organisations, having seen 25 years of consistent growth. Even in 2020, their GDP is predicted to grow despite COVID, thanks to their effective handling of the healthcare crisis and continued focus on the economy throughout.

In terms of opportunities for the future, there is one in particular that stands out to Gareth Ward, British Ambassador to Vietnam, who was part of the webinar. The UK is the world leader in wind power technology, while Vietnam has impressive wind resources. This, according to Ward, creates an obvious “synergy” that could bring huge benefits to both countries and has the potential to make the UK one of the biggest investors in Vietnam. 

A huge priority for both governments and businesses going forward is to strengthen our trading relationship over the next 10 years, particularly in areas such as online education and training, addressing climate change, healthcare and greener energy. This can be achieved through finalising a robust FTA but also through continued open dialogue between the countries, creating networking opportunities and facilitating ongoing co-operation.

Watch the webinar here.

For a range of resources to help prepare for the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 visit ICAEW’s dedicated Brexit Hub.

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