Weekly eNewsletter
15th Week of 2021 - April 18, 2021
AmCham Vietnam’s Vision:

The most influential, strategic, and dynamic business association in Vietnam, that drives innovation and sustainable growth, and helps our members succeed. AmCham is a diverse, inclusive, business association and welcomes American, Vietnamese, and international companies that share our interest in enabling a fair, transparent, and predictable regulatory environment that values innovation. A community you want to join.
Dear ,
Books, glorious books!  I grew up weightlifting, carrying as many books home from the library per week as was allowed.  And I still prefer the tactile pleasure of real vs. e-books, as my bookshelves attest… Regardless of whether you prefer print or digital, there are two book-related events this week of interest.  The first is AmCham Singapore’s Asia Wednesday morning virtual book launch of China expert/scholar – and former diplomat – Ryan Haas’ book, Stronger: Adapting America’s China Strategy in an Era of Competitive Interdependence (complimentary to AmCham Vietnam members – register at the link as a non-member. The second is currently Saigon-based award-winning author and journalist Andrew Lam’s live reading on Thursday evening at The Old Compass Café from his newest book of short stories, Stories from the Edge of the Sea, at his last public event before returning for at least a while to San Francisco. (Register now if interested at info@oldcompasscafe.com – limited seating, https://stayhappening.com/e/stories-from-the-edge-of-the-sea-E2ISTK8I2KB). Not book-related, but an event that may be of interest to many and also featuring many AmCham members as panelists (500 Startups’ Eddie Thai, American Education Group’s Chi Thuc Ha, and EZLand’s Hien Vuong) Tuesday at the U.S. Consulate, Asians in America Through the Vietnamese Lens (will be live-streamed on the Consulates Facebook page – register to attend in person here.
This week, I will be representing AmCham on Tuesday morning, April 20th, at a HCMC People’s Committee ITPC and DOLISA-hosted Dialogue on Foreign Work Permits, and Friday morning, April 23rd with HCMC Party Secretary Nen, People’s Committee Chairman Phong, and Thu Duc People’s Committee Chairman Hoang on Improving the Investment Environment.  Thanks to those of you who shared your input, and/or registered to join.

We look forward to seeing many of you in person or virtually at our Tuesday, April 20 Digital Economy and Technology Committee to hear more about the April 16th MPS workshop on Personal Data Protection regulation and our plans for an AmCham series on Digital Transformation for SMEs.  Note the time change to 2PM to accommodate the HCMC PC meeting that morning.  And we hope you will register now for our Tuesday, April 27 event on Top Leaders’ Insights on Hard and Soft Leadership Skills with an all-star panel of experts, including German Consul General Josefine Wallat, Mastercard’s Winnie Wong, Talentnet’s Tieu Yen Trinh, and our own WIL leaders Irene Ohler and Dr. Astrid Matarrita.  And also, mark your calendars and register now for our April 28 Connect & Cocktails at Hotel Des Arts Saigon, and our May 8 Cinco de Mayo Fiesta at District Federal! 

Please note the AmCham Office will be closed on April 21 for the Hung King Anniversary.

On the positive news front, the U.S. Treasury Department did not include Vietnam as a Currency Manipulator in its latest list, but will continue “enhanced analysis” and bilateral talks.  However, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative continues to carry out Section 301 investigations as to whether Vietnam is manipulating its currency and importing and using timber that is illegally harvested or traded.

Closer to home, the U.S. Agency for International Development and Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry released their 2020 Provincial Competitiveness Index report.  Quang Ninh was #1 for the 4th year in a row.  Lots of good content and analysis in the report.  https://pcivietnam.vn/en/publications/2020-pci-full-report-ct187

We had mixed emotions at AmCham Vietnam’s April 12th Farewell for Ambassador Kritenbrink. We are sad to see Ambassador Kritenbrink depart, but are grateful for his leadership of the U.S.-Vietnam comprehensive partnership and continuous support of AmCham and the U.S. business community throughout his 3 and 1/2 years in Vietnam.

And we are honored to have been there with him along the way - to welcome him to Da Nang for APEC in November 2017, and to be with him again in Da Nang when he received news of his nomination by President Biden as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs during our March 26-28 AmCham National Conference and Weekend at the Sheraton Grand Da Nang.  We wish him safe travels back to Washington DC where he will reunite with his family - and best wishes for his upcoming Senate confirmation hearing!
We invite you to view the photos shown at his April 12th farewell dinner in HCMC, highlighting many of his events with AmCham Vietnam and our member companies during his 3 and 1/2 years in Vietnam.  A link to those slides is below - for those who were unable to join - or too busy catching up with friends at the event: https://bit.ly/3wZxZg

We were also delighted to see the announcement of the new U.S. Ambassador-nominee, Marc Knapper, a member of the Senior Foreign Service with extensive Asia experience, including a former tour in Hanoi.  Until he is confirmed by the Senate and can arrive in Vietnam, we look forward to continue partnering with Chargé d’Affaires Chris Klein, Consul General Marie Damour and the U.S. Mission Vietnam team to strengthen the U.S.-Vietnam trade and investment relationship.

We welcome your feedback at team@amchamvietnam.com to let us know how we can serve you better. Mary
Greetings from sunny Da Nang and I hope you are all well! We hope to see many of our Da Nang and Central Vietnam-based members and friends at our Friday, April 23rd Connect & Cocktails at 4Ps Indochina Riverside Tower!  Thank you to Ambassador Kritenbrink for your very sincere and warm remarks at the farewell party this past Monday at the InterContinental Saigon. We were so lucky to have you as our Ambassador to Vietnam and really appreciate all the support you have given AmCham throughout your time here. You will be missed! That said, AmCham Da Nang wishes you every success in your new appointment and as you look back fondly on your time in Vietnam, we know that we have a very strong supporter back in Washington that will be there to work with AmCham on our current and future goals for business in Vietnam.
Advocacy
Baker & McKenzie Partner Chung Seck represented AmCham Vietnam with comments at an April 16 MPS Workshop on Personal Data Protection (PDP). Prior to that workshop, AmCham submitted a Position Paper on the draft PDP Decree to VBF on March 31 as well as to MPS on April 6. If you need a copy of our this position paper to MPS, please contact  advocacyaction@amchamvietnam.com 
 
VBF has requested comments on MOF’s Draft New Insurance Business Law by Wednesday, April 21.  Given that April 21 is a holiday, we will seek an extension to April 22.  AmCham’s Capital Markets and Financial Services Committee and VBF & Legal Committee are coordinating AmCham comments.  If you have any comments or recommendations, please send to advocacyaction@amchamvietnam.com by noon on Tuesday, April 20.  
 
AmCham’s Advocacy Committee in conjunction with HR Committee is reviewing a draft letter by VBF expressing concerns regarding Decree 152 and new requirements for Work Permits for Foreigners.  VBF plans to file a joint letter on April 19 to MOLISA and seek a dialogue to discuss concerns. Meanwhile, AmCham ED Mary Tarnowka will represent AmCham at a HCMC ITPC and DOLISA dialogue with enterprises on this issue in HCMC on April 20. 

AmCham’s Healthcare Committee’s Medical Device Subcommittee is taking the lead in compiling the comments on the draft decree on capital borrowing, capital mobilization, joint venture, partnership, asset lease, and service provider hiring for public non-business units in the health-population sector. If you have any comments, please send to  healthcare@amchamvietnam.com
 
Representatives of AmCham’s F&B Committee and Healthcare Committee, together with ED Tarnowka, attended an April 13rd workshop with senior representatives from Central Institute for Economic Management and USAID’s Trade Facilitation project to discuss overall barriers to trade and investment, including with respect to importation of medical devices and pharmaceutical products, and related to the Draft Decree regulating the State inspection on quality and food safety of imported goods in order to submit to General Customs of Vietnam. The F&B Committee is taking the lead to compile AmCham member comments on the Draft Decree before the end of April. If you have any comments and/or recommendations to this draft Decree, please send to fnb@amchamvietnam.com.  Separately, our F&B Committee is collecting the comments on Draft Amendment of Decree 43 on goods labelling. Please send to  fnb@amchamvietnam.com no later than end of April if you have any comments and/or recommendations. 

On April 14, USAID Energy and Environment Director Robert Layng met with members of AmCham’s Energy and ESG Committees to discuss USAID energy and environment programs, particularly with respect to renewable energy, and to request feedback on private sector concerns regarding PDP8 and other energy and environment-related regulations  He also discussed the release of the new Draft Circular on Direct Power Purchase Agreements just released for 60-days comment by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.  If you are interested, please contact  advocacyaction@amchamvietnam.com for more information. 

Regarding any other advocacy matters that require AmCham support, please raise it to the relevant Committee leaders and/or advocacyaction@amchamvietnam.com 
Committee Meetings & Activities (For AmCham Members Only)
Upcoming Events
Venue: New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Dist. 1
Venue: Pizza 4P’s Indochina, Indochina Riverside Towers, 74 Bach Dang St., Hai Chau, Da Nang
Venue: The Reverie Saigon, 22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, Dist. 1
April 28, 6:00 - 8:30pm
Venue: Saigon Kitchen at Hotel Des Arts Saigon, 76-78 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Dist. 1
May 8, 7:00 - 10:00pm
Venue: District Federal, 84 Xuan Thuy Street, Thao Dien, Dist. 2
COVID-19 Update from Healthcare Provider Subcommittee Chair
Dr. Mason Cobb and Andrew Meadows
Vaccine distribution and safety remains a top concern in Vietnam and globally. Although all approved vaccines are safe to within 1 reaction in several thousand injections being classified as serious – far less than 1%, exceedingly rare blood clots with Astra-Zeneca (AZ) and Johnson & Johnson (JJ) have resulted in halts to their use in several places.  Most patients have been women under the age of 50, so some countries are restricting only that group.  The overwhelming danger in USA is that antivaxxers have seized on and publicized the rare problems and as many as 30% of Americans may refuse vaccination.  With highly transmissible variants, herd immunity will require 70%.  This leaves the door open for more virulent variants and allows the virus to become endemic.

The mRNA vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech (PB) and Moderna (MD), are very safe.  However, about 50-75% of those vaccinated have flu-like symptoms that are transient.  80% have minor injection-site reactions.  In lab testing, the mRNA vaccines appear nearly as effective against current variants.  It is very possible that a booster will be needed at 12 months, much like the routine yearly flu vaccines.

So far, an amazingly low 0.007% of those vaccinated with PB and MD later contract COVID-19 in the community, but only 7% of those require hospitalization.  Those vaccinated do not appear to spread infection.  This makes it possible for Vietnam to consider policies to recognize vaccine credentials, the long-awaited "Vaccine Passport".  The Ministry of Health just announced a recommendation to allow those with recognized vaccine passport testing, and a 7-day vs 14-day quarantine..

Meanwhile, Vietnam only has about 800,000 doses available through COVAX, the WHO program.  The original goal of 150M doses by the end of 2021 has been extended.  With outbreaks in Cambodia, Thailand, and elsewhere in the region, there is increasing urgency for Vietnam to obtaining the vaccine to protect its population and enable reopening and recovery.  U.S. companies continue to work tirelessly with the Government to reach agreement to enable an adequate supply of vaccine to Vietnam.
Offers to AmCham Members
AmCham Membership
If you want to become an AmCham member, register here. If you have already renewed for 2021, you should have received your membership card already. If you haven’t, please let us know. If you haven’t yet renewed or settled your payment, please do so soonest so you can keep enjoying the benefits of AmCham membership! 
AmCham’s Member Discount Program supports local businesses that contribute to our quality of life, and also offer benefits to you, our members. For more information on participating businesses, or if you want to become an AmCham Member Discount Partner, click here.
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The American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam
New World Hotel Suite 323
76 Le Lai Street, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Phone: +84 28 3824 3562