Enhancing Vietnam’s business and investment environment is a key priority for the government. An overhaul of company licensing processes is one of the means being worked on to bring this about. Revamping the licensing process will require large-scale changes to the current company and investment law regime.The current Law on Investment 2005 is planned to be replaced by a new investment law, the first draft of which was prepared earlier this year. This draft new law on investment (LOI) received a lot of interest when first published in April.

During the summer months, in a session which ended mid-August, the Standing Committee of the National Assembly discussed and raised issues in relation to draft LOI. The Standing Committee stated that its key concern related to the regulations on investment in conditional sectors. Conditional sectors are listed in the current investment regulations as ‘sensitive’ sectors, such as e.g., trade and distribution, pharmaceuticals, banking and education. Given the concerns of the Standing Committee, it seems that the draft LOI will still have to undergo further, perhaps substantial revision before it is ready to be passed. The expectation is still that the National Assembly is likely to pass it in November 2014 and that it will take force from July 2015. Therefore any changes still required will need to be drafted, considered and agreed in quick succession.

The first draft of the draft LOI was published in April and the second in June. The latest published draft is from August. Some key content has changed radically between the April, June and August drafts. Whilst some changes are to be expected during drafting, it seems that the concept and detailed workings of the new licensing regime are open and still being developed.

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