April – Finally! | AMCHAM and EU-FTA Agreement Updates!

Friday, April 3rd, hopefully, one month closer to the end of COVID19 – but we must stay Vigilant! Today Granger Whitelaw discusses the latest update on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement — and A ‘Shout-Out”  AMCHAM for their great support of Health Care Workers In Ho Chi Minh! We hope you enjoy!

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Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability.

Listen to the full episode at the link here:  


Granger Whitelaw: Good morning. This is Granger Whitelaw with The Lotus Talks. Friday, April 3rd. We are officially in April and we have put March behind us. It’s a good thing. March was a crazy month for all of us. April looks to be fairly crazy as well. Obviously with COVID happening, we are all aware of this situation and hearing a lot of good news, potential good news coming up for a therapeutic, medicine and potential vaccines and testing. Right now we are all on a quote lockdown in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, and just Vietnam in general to not go out, not being in a group of two or more people. I’m sure you all know that, and if you haven’t, reported to the government, if you were at Buddha Bar or came to Vietnam on an airplane after March 8th, you need to go ahead and make sure you fill the paperwork out and just report. so that they can, keep a record of all that.  Tracing Is really important right now to put a stop to the spread of this virus in Vietnam. We certainly cannot take a big outbreak here. That’s my public service announcement for the Lotus Talks this morning.  

Granger Whitelaw: let’s talk a little business. I’ve been getting a lot of requests from the U S for, PPE material for face masks, boots, gloves, uniforms, clothing that they can use in the hospitals, Cox, to sleep on. If anybody listening to this has any knowledge of where to get that here in Southeast Asia and certainly obviously in Vietnam, let me know. I know that there’s been talk about, converting some of the textile factories here to making masks and surgical, hospital, PPE, equipment, boots, et cetera. I think that would be a phenomenal thing to do. It’s a matter of getting some tooling going. I would hope the government would get any paperwork done to let those companies convert immediately and not only for the country, but the Vietnam could be a leader for the world. And getting a coven flattened out and getting to work, converting 10 or 20% of textile factories in Vietnam to do health products would be enormous. It would help worldwide with supplies that we’re going to need over the next months and year. Just anywhere you can think of. Africa, USA, Europe, Asia. So I implore the government to allow this to happen. And for anybody who is in the textile business who can convert their factory, this is a great opportunity to look into doing that because there are certainly is the need for it.  

Granger Whitelaw: Switching subjects. Some positive news also the EU – Vietnam Free trade agreement, has been passed by the council on the EU side. that decision does clear the path to green light, this agreement by the Vietnamese National Assembly to ratify it the summer. This is the second agreement they are concluding with the Southeast Asia country. Singapore was the first and I think it’s the most ambitious free trade agreement ever done with a developing country. It’s going to open up a lot of new trading opportunities. great new tools, to help grow and enforce the basic freedoms and labor rights. Vietnam. It will provide for almost a 99% elimination of custom duties between the two blocks. 65% of duties on EU exports to Vietnam will disappear as soon as the FTA enters into force. And the remainder, the balance we phased out gradually over a period of 10 years. Vietnam exports, about 71% to the EU and those duties will disappear. The remainder of that were being phased out over a period of seven years. So this is a massive agreement that’s been put in place and it’s being put in place. it’ll reduce many of the existing non tear barriers to trade with Vietnam and certainly open up Vietnamese services in public procurement markets to EU companies. There’s a lot of IP, intellectual property protections and labor rate, sustainable development provisions in it as well, which will come under the international labor organization Core standards and UN conventions for example, relating to climate change and protection of biodiversity.  

Granger Whitelaw: It’s a great, great, thing for Vietnam, especially with a decrease want certainly will be our manufacturing PMI, which has already been taking a hit and will continue to over the next couple of months is just something to look forward to as we come out of this time and have something to look forward to for growth. One more thing I’d like to talk about today is the American Chamber of Commerce. I do like to profile a company on Fridays. It’s hard to think about all the different companies and things that I could talk about right now on the letters talks. But AmCham, American Chamber of Commerce, we call it AMCHAM, did something pretty awesome this week. They donated 250,000 face masks to the health workers in Ho Chi Minh city to help fight the coven 19 pandemic. this was led by a group of companies that are part of AMCHAM Intel products of Vietnam, Pharmacity, MSD, which is Merck Sharp and Dohme, Samtech, Vietnam, Kimberly Clark, Vietnam and Fulbright University, Vietnam faculty and staff. there was a number of other companies, that and people who donated money towards this. what a great thing. it was led by the healthcare committee, which I am a part of and chaired by, Chris blank, who’s the CEO of Pharmacity and Jonathan Moreno from Diversatek who are always doing things to help improve the healthcare in Vietnam. And of course, Mary Tarnowka, who’s our Executive Director at AMCHAM, was instrumental in putting this together.  

Granger Whitelaw: AMCHAM is a non-governmental nonprofit organization, for them to do this is phenomenal. I know you’re talking about doing a number of other initiatives to help Vietnam. certainly, the American Embassy is doing a lot, I think. I saw the Ambassador talking a couple of days ago and he said about $700 billion has been invested into Vietnam for healthcare and tropical disease prevention over the last 15, 20 years. And the Americans continue to support that here in Vietnam. EuroCham and AusCham and CanCham, all are doing different things. I know, they’re in the works too. You’ll be hearing about this as well.  

Granger Whitelaw: Getting the word out is critical to the Chambers. And if you need support with any issues, certainly contact your chamber. There are people there at all times and also at the Consul General or the Embassies to help you with business issues, employee issues and healthcare issues during this difficult time. On a bright note, we’re all at home. Hopefully you’re getting work done. Hopefully you’re getting more time with your families. Maybe finding some new hobbies. collecting centipedes and bugs for the kids to put into little, plastic boxes like I used to do, or a cardboard box is actually be better and putting grass and making little homes for them or creating Legos or painting. One of my friends was learning guitar with his family and out of this we may have a new band come to Vietnam from within Vietnam.  

Granger Whitelaw: Try to find the joy. There are many great things going on. Lots of people trying to help others right now with food and medical assistance. If you can help do a delivery for someone, please do that. I certainly would do that, if I could. But, help out your fellow man. This is a time to come together and show that we can be a part of leading change and helping to create a new, stronger society here in Vietnam and the ex-pat community alongside the Vietnamese. I wish you all a great weekend. I wish you health & happiness – hug your families and I will speak to you on Monday. Have a great weekend. Until then, this is Granger Whitelaw with The Lotus Talks.    

The Lotus Talks is produced by The Vietnam Group and Hosted by Granger Whitelaw.
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