Foreign businesses in Vietnam have expressed their concerns over the prolonged social distancing measures applied throughout the country to stall the coronavirus spread, warning that it would miss many investment opportunities given slow economic reopening.
Foreign business associations including AmCham Vietnam, the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, EuroCham, and KoCham recently sent a joint letter to the central government to propose a strategy on 'localized pandemic prevention and control,' aimed at restoring safe production and business activities in a ‘new normal.’
It is important that Vietnam take action now to maintain its regional and global competitiveness, and not to lag in economic recovery, the letter wrote.
The business associations said they support the strategy to adapt to living with the virus safely and wish to joint hands with the government and localities to reopen the economy safely and enable economic recovery.
Businesses need a clear road map and an exact date for reopening, they added, citing survey findings that at least 20 percent of manufacturing members have shifted some production to another country.
"Once production shifts, it is difficult to return, especially once production lines have been expanded elsewhere," the letter reads.
Vietnam is missing out on investment opportunities that may not return, they continued, adding that investment will not increase without a clear plan for reopening and recovery.
Existing businesses have most investment plans on hold given current uncertainties, while potential new investors cannot visit without streamlined policies for entry of foreigners.
"Vietnam will miss out on a huge opportunity to capitalize on diversification of supply chains away from China if it cannot demonstrate it is a reliable alternative," the associations said in the letter.
The associations stressed that vaccines are key to the current problem, adding that the government should decide on a specific app or tracking system for the 'vaccine green pass' scheme.
This app needs to be coordinated among ministries, departments, and localities to allow consistent recognition, access, and travel.
The foreign businesses also mentioned the importance of food security, stating that recent pandemic response measures had disrupted many of the remaining supply chains.
Delivery service, wet markets, and food supply chains need to be prioritized for vaccine access and reopening immediately, they elaborated, noting that restaurants are also important for ensuring food security and employment.
Vietnam has documented 687,063 COVID-19 cases as of Monday afternoon, with 457,505 recoveries and 17,090 deaths.
The country has recorded 682,617 local infections in 62 out of 63 provinces and cities since the fourth wave began on April 27.
Social distancing measures at various levels have been implemented across the country over the past months to push back the pandemic.
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