Australian Business Groups were originally established in 1995 in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as independent initiatives of the then Australian Ambassador and Consul General. Until 1998, the two groups developed separately. With the passage in Vietnam of legislation on foreign business groups, the two groups developed separately although consulted with one another to present a common approach when dealing with both the Vietnamese and Australian governments.
- With the passage of legislation on foreign business groups – Decree No. 08/1998/ND-CP, dated 22 January 1998 Promulgating the Regulations on the Establishment of Foreign Business Associations in Vietnam, the two groups formally combined to create the Australian Business Group of Vietnam (ABGV).
- The Ho Chi Minh City Peoples Committee issued ABGV’s license on 19th September 1998, No 01/GP-HHDN/HCM. This was one of the first business group licenses issued. Following registration of the initial charter, it was amended in January 1999 to provide for the Chapter structure, which was approved and registered in mid 1999.
- On 23rd October 2003, ABGV received an Extension of License for the Establishment of a Foreign Business Association in Vietnam, No. 18/GP-HHDN/HCM, valid for a period of three years.
- On the 5th of September 2009, it received another Extension of License No. 11/GP-HHDN/HCM, valid until the 19th September 2012.
- On the 7th of November 2012, it received another Extension of License No. 5696/QĐ-UBND, valid until the 19th September 2015.
The first elections of Chapter Committees under the new structure were held in June 1999. The first National Executive was appointed in July 1999, with John Dick of Freehills, Ho Chi Minh City elected President and Jon Ackerman of ANzoil, Hanoi, elected Vice President. The second President of ABGV, elected for the 2000/2001 year was Andrew Hilton from the Hanoi Chapter and Nigel Russell of Phillips Fox elected Vice President.
In 1998 John Gourlay of BHP Steel Products, was elected as a life member for his services in the establishment of ABGV, Ho Chi Minh City and in 1999, Peter Allan of Telstra, was elected as a life member for services in establishment of ABGV Hanoi.
Decision to replace Chapter Committees with a unified National Board in 2014
Above, AusCham’s then National President, Tareq Muhmood, explains why the formation of a National Board was so important to AusCham [February, 2014].
At the 2013 AGMs in Hanoi and HCMC, the two committees each resolved:
“To review options for improving the efficiency of the of the current AusCham national and Chapter management structure including the feasibility of unifying the two current Chapter Committees into a single (National) Chapter Committee and to present each Chapter’s recommendation to the membership for decision at or before the next AGM (2014).”
To introduce such a change would require an amendment to each Chapter’s charter. To change the Charter:
- Both Chapters needed a quorum of 25 per cent and
- Both Chapters needed to approve the proposal with a two thirds (67 per cent) majority.
Under the stewardship of National Chairman, Tareq Muhmood, both the Hanoi and HCMC Chapters recommended to their memberships at their respective Annual General Meetings on 26 March 2014 that “the two City Chapters be managed by a single National Board to be elected jointly by the membership as a whole” (the wording was determined by a lawyer based upon the conditions detailed in the two Chapter Licences).
To gain an insight into why the two Chapters believed the formation of a National Board was so important, view the video below with AusCham Chairman, Tareq Muhmood.
The result was emphatic in support of the proposal to form a National Board:
- Hanoi: 63 per cent (32 of 51) of eligible voters cast their vote. 97 per cent (31 of the 32) approved the proposal.
- HCMC: 58 per cent (112 of 194) eligible voters cast their vote. 99 per cent (111 of the 112) approved the proposal.
The National Board comprises 12 voting members (8 from HCMC and 4 from Hanoi) and three non voting ex officio members (from Embassy / Consulate / Austrade). The Board meets monthly via video conference facilities in Austrade’s Hanoi and HCMC offices.