Lawmakers discuss lessons drawn from 8 years of Vietnam’s entry into WTO

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Lawmakers discuss lessons drawn from 8 years of Vietnam’s entry into WTO

Vietnam’s lawmaking National Assembly held a hearing on Friday to discuss what the country has achieved after eight years of entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the lessons drawn from it. Vietnam was officially granted the WTO membership in 2007.

Nguyen Van Giau, chairman of the economic committee of the National Assembly, told the meeting in Hanoi that Vietnam has expanded its export markets and attracted more foreign investment since it entered the WTO.

However, the financial crisis and the global economic recession from 2008 to 2011 hindered the economic growth of Vietnam, Giau said.

The average annual economic growth rate of the Southeast Asian country was 7.27 percent in the 2001-06 period, when Vietnam was not a WTO member, but it reached just 5.94 percent in 2007-14.

Vietnam’s export and import turnover has made considerable progress after it joined the global trade bloc, according to a WTO report.

In 2007, Vietnam ranked 50th and 41st in terms of export and import revenues in the world.

Five years later, the ranking of the country’s export turnover rose 13 notches, reaching the 37th place in the world.

In the meantime, the import revenue of Vietnam surged seven notches to the 34th place globally that same year.

According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the total commodity trade value of Vietnam topped US$228 billion in 2012, double that in 2007.

Those lawmakers attending the meeting asked for a clear report on the advantages and disadvantages of Vietnam since the nation joined the WTO and the lessons learned in order to prepare for other free trade pacts, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

The TPP is a proposed regional free trade agreement aimed at eliminating tariffs and lowering non-tariff barriers that is being negotiated by 12 countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The countries include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam, which collectively contribute almost half the global output and over 40 percent of world trade, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

Phung Quoc Hien, chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee of the National Assembly, confirmed that Vietnam has failed to leverage its advantages in agricultural production, travel, and cheap workforces.

He added that specific lessons must be drawn from that since it is not objective to blame it on any failure in economic reforms.

Nguyen Sinh Hung, National Assembly chairman, agreed with the opinions and asked relevant agencies to specify what experience should be learned from the failures.

“What I am worried most now is that Vietnam is not ready for the TPP,” he said.

“We have been a WTO member for eight years. Have we made enough progress to bridge the gap with other nations?”

“We’ve asked other nations to recognize our market economy, but the major issue is that we must ask ourselves whether our national economy is following market rules.”